Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception held on behalf of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev in honor of the President of Azerbaijan, Sofia, 29 June 1995

Mr. President Zhelyu Zhelev,

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the kind invitation of the President of Bulgaria Mr. Zhelyu Zhelev I paid a visit to Bulgaria with great pleasure and today we sum up our work together. From the first minutes of our stay in Bulgaria we faced sincerity, hospitality and friendship. This atmosphere helped us to produce a good work and sign a very important document. I and the delegation, which accompanied me in my visit, came to Bulgaria with a feeling of great respect for the Bulgarian people, for the Bulgarian land and the outstanding achievements of the Bulgarian people within a long history and with a sense of respect for the important democratic changes taken place in Bulgaria in the recent years.

In all this, I want to emphasize particularly the role of the President, the person who is the leader of the Republic of Bulgaria, who passed difficult trials for democracy, for the protection of democratic opinion and will of the people. I met and talked the head of Bulgaria, was in this country in the past, but now there is completely a different atmosphere, a different environment and a different life.

Bulgaria follows the path of democratic development and democratic society, implements into life democratic changes and follows the path of the interests and wishes chosen by the people. All of the processes taken place in Bulgaria are complicated. We are well aware of the difficulties which Bulgaria faces now in the transition period. Therefore, we feel great respect and are very optimistic about the future and, in particular, about the results of the changes taken place in Bulgaria. In the person of Bulgaria we see a European country which follows the path of civilization, democracy and national independence.

Azerbaijan honors and appreciates its national freedom and national independence gained three and a half years ago.

Our countries, we can say, faced with similar processes. I am confident that we shall overcome the trials and will reach the level of civilization and democracy. From this point of view, Bulgaria has a lot of experience and broad opportunities. Thus, we respect this valuable experience in our practical activity and work. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan intend to build long-term and friendly relations. An agreement on friendship and cooperation, and other important agreements signed today by us prove it.

I believe that we have laid a good foundation for our future cooperation and the main point is that we have mutual desire and intentions for the fruitfulness of this cooperation.

We are very serious about this and hope that our cooperation will be really efficient and useful. I take this opportunity to once more express my gratitude to Bulgaria for the attention shown to the independence of Azerbaijan. In summer of 1992, Bulgaria recognized the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This is our great achievement. Bulgaria supports Azerbaijan in time hard for us, when Azerbaijan is subjected to the aggression by Armenia and suffers from heavy losses. Therefore, the support of Bulgaria for the national independence and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is a great help for us. I express my gratitude to the government of Bulgaria and its President for their support.

For future cooperation and most importantly for good relations and friendship we have great opportunities and a great desire. Azerbaijan has passed large trials in the recent years. Military aggression, which began seven years ago, has caused great damage to economy of Azerbaijan and, of course, the socio-political situation of our republic. In this situation there have been moments of violation of the Constitution of Azerbaijan. They have created difficulties for the social and economic development of the Republic and of course, to its exit from the crisis. With a sense of pleasure I can say that in the past two years these moments which contradict to the Constitution and laws have been removed, and now there are conditions in the country for the solution of many issues related to the socio-political development and peaceful settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Last May we were able to sign an agreement with Armenia on cease-fire which is going on for 13 months. Today I declare it once more that we shall observe the cease-fire in order to achieve complete peace and stability in the region, have good neighborly relations with all the countries which surround our republic. We attach great importance to the Minsk Group of OSCE and cherish great hopes in its activity. The resolution adopted last December at the Budapest Summit by the co-chairs of OSCE is an important event. We appreciate the resolution of the Budapest Summit and especially the contribution made by Bulgaria there in the adoption of this important document.

The statement of President Zhelev pleased me greatly which said that Bulgaria would take steps at the OSCE for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. I am confident that Bulgaria will contribute to the achievement of peace and to the measures taken for ensuring this peace.

I believe that everything in which we agree is a good foundation for our future cooperation. Today, summing up our joint work, I want to express my gratitude to President Zhelev, President of the Parliament, Prime Minister, to all those who met us today and discussed issues concerning our bilateral relations and who has shown a sincere attitude, care and hospitality. Reception of guests in Bulgaria, in this beautiful land evokes the feeling of great respect for the Bulgarian people, its country and in particular for the changes taken place here in the recent times. We shall be faithful allies, remain faithful to the agreement on friendship and cooperation and shall do everything to make our cooperation fruitful and productive.

I wish the Bulgarian people happiness and peace. I wish all of our Bulgarian friends successes in the implementation of the plans.

I propose a toast to President of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev, to the Republic of Bulgaria, to the Bulgarian people and to the strong friendship between Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.

To your health, thank you!