From the conversation of Heydar Aliyev with the Greek ambassador Merkurious Karafotias when he presented his credentials - December 6, 2000

Merkurios Karaphotias: Your Excellency, Mr. President!

It is a great honour to present my credentials to you as the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Greece to Azerbaijan. Taking the chance I would like to convey to you the personal greetings and best wishes of the Greek President.

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Ambassador, I congratulate you on your appointment Ambassador of Greece to Azerbaijan and wish you success in your activity.

Thank you for giving the regards of the Greek President Konstatinos Stephanopoulos, and I would like you to give my best regards and wishes to him. I`m very pleased that the diplomatic relations between our countries are on an embassy level. The Greek Embassy has done a lot to improve the relations between our countries. We highly appreciate it. I hope that you will continue this activity more successfully.

Be sure that, all the government bodies will render necessary help to you and you`ll feel how hospitable and peaceful our nation is.

Once more I congratulate you and wish you success.

If I am not mistaken, you are the third Greek ambassador to Azerbaijan. We have established positive relationship with Greek ambassadors to our country. Personally, I have always been in touch with them. I think that we have created good traditions in this sphere.

As well as in other spheres, Greece Embassy has taken valuable measures to improve the Azerbaijani-Greek cultural and scientific relations. I hope you will fulfill these activities more successfully.

Mercurious Karaphotias: Your Excellency, thank you!

Mr. President we have enlarged our embassy in Baku before I started my activity. Now we have got a special representative in the embassy in charge of economic and commercial issues. There are special attaches to deal with military and cultural issues in our embassy. It shows that Greece pays special importance to the development of the relations with Azerbaijan.

As the number of the staff is growing our present building is getting smaller for us .So from January on, we are moving to a new building to work more successfully. We hope and are sure that we shall do our best to improve the relations between our countries in all the spheres.

Mr. President, besides my appointment to Baku as an ambassador, I`m lucky to inform you that in the very days when I start my office, exactly since January 1, Greece will preside over the EU for the next term.

Heydar Aliyev: Is Greece due to preside over the EU after France?

Mercurious Karaphotias: Yes, we are. Besides the EU, we shall preside over one more organization.

Your Excellency, I want to assure you that we shall do our best to develop and strengthen not only the Azerbaijani-Greek, but also European and Azerbaijani relations.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I`m very glad that your country is going to do great things in these European organizations. It`s natural that it is a very influential job for you. Our country, as well as others, is looking for the benefits.

I know that Greece is the supporter of our admission to the European Union.

Vilayat Quliyev: Mr.President, the Greek representative took a critical position in the latest discussions on Azerbaijan`s absolute membership to the EU. I have told it to the ambassador.

They said that if Azerbaijan wouldn`t get ready till the end of January, they would have to support Armenia unilaterally.

Heydar Aliyev: Have you told him about it?

Vilayat Quliyev: Yes, I have, I have told him and asked him to inform the Foreign Minister about it.

Mercurious Karaphotias: Mr. President, I have informed your Foreign Minister about it, and I would like to inform you that there was some misunderstanding. According to the official position of Greece we support both countries` simultaneous admission. Our representatives to Strasburg have been instructed so.

Your Excellency, as I`m the ambassador to your country, I`m really interested in Azerbaijan`s admission to the EU.

I am sure and hope that, we shall be glad and pleased with Azerbaijan`s admission the EU on January 17. That will be a great day for all of us.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. It`s a well-known fact that there`s close, friendly relations between Armenia and Greece. But at the same time, as you know, there is a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This conflict is the result of Armenia`s aggression against Azerbaijan.

It is known that due to several reasons Armenian armed forces have occupied some of the Azerbaijan regions. More than one million inhabitants have been withdrawn from their lands.

We ceased the fire in 1994.Once more I would like to declare that we want to solve the problem peacefully.But the solution shouldn`t take much time. I think that Greece can do something about it. First of all, you should think about your friend Armenia, this conflict is harmful not only for Azerbaijan, but also for Armenia. Secondly, the solution of this conflict, establishment of peaceful relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, i.e. liberation of Azerbaijan lands, restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will create a fruitful situation for the development the Azerbaijani-Greek relations. So you should be interested in this problem. Admission of Azerbaijan and Armenia to the EU will be a step forward in this direction. I hope that your declaration will justify itself.

Mercurious Karaphotias: Mr. President, thank you.

Your Excellency, you are right that we have good relations with Armenia. Despite of this fact, I would like to mention that we have always supported Azerbaijan in the Upper Kharabagh conflict. The reason for it is that this is the issue of a principle. The official position of Greece has always been so, we have always supported Azerbaijan`s integrity, and wanted the Azerbaijani refugees go back to their own lands.

Your Excellency, we will always keep this position. We are ready to do our best to solve this conflict as soon as possible.

Greece hopes for better results from your talks with the president of Armenia, and is waiting for the solution of the conflict. Besides, we are ready to take all the possible measures to help the peaceful solution of this problem. I agree with you, simultaneous admission of Azerbaijan and Armenia might be very helpful to the peaceful solution of the Upper Kharabagh conflict.

Heydar Aliye: That`s true, thank you.

Translated from newspaper \"Azerbaijan\", December 7, 2000