Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the reception held by the French Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette - Paris, January 14, 1997

Mr. Minister Hervé de Charette, Madame de Charette!

Messieurs Ministers, senators, members of the French parliament, ladies and gentlemen!

The second day of my official visit to the Republic of France is coming to an end. I arrived here at the invitation of the French President Jacques Chirac. We have done here a big and efficient work, during the two days which will lay the foundations for improving the relations between France and Azerbaijan.

The persons accompanying me and I were met a warm welcome and kind treatment as soon as we arrived in Paris and we feel very well here, in Paris, France.

France is a great country with ancient and rich traditions. It has contributed much to the civilization. France, the French people, French culture have always attracted the attention everywhere, in the every country of the world. The Azerbaijani people respect France and the French people very much.

The history of France and great contribution of the French people to the civilization are well known in Azerbaijan, as well as in the world. We highly appreciate the contribution of the French people to the establishment of democratic principles. The French Revolution which founded a new France is a great event not only for France and the French people, but for all the mankind as a whole. The principles of democracy worked out by the prominent French figures, Didroe, Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, served the basis of ruling a country and state on democratic principles.

Azerbaijan, a newly independent state, who took the way of democracy, profits greatly from the French experience of democracy and all the rich heritage worked out by the prominent Frenchmen and realized by a number of French generations.

France is a beautiful country. France is the cradle of the civilization. France is a country which attracts all the people of the world. The French people are always well-known for their wisdom and talent, and a number of French generations have enriched the civilization. That is why, it is a great event for everybody to arrive in France, to be in beautiful Paris.

I want to thank you for the hospitality and sincerity that we were met here in these two days. I want to thank Mr. President Jacques Chirac for his invitation. We had a nice meeting yesterday here, and he expressed ideas about the French-Azerbaijani relations.

President Jacques Chirac is a prominent political figure of our period. We are well aware of his ardent activity, of his life and contributions to strengthening the Republic of France. President Chirac has made great contributions to the peace of world and strengthening peace and stability in a number of regions and gained great respect of a number of countries for it. It was a great event for me and persons accompanying me to meet President Chirac. I think friendly relations were established between us. I highly appreciate it and I will do my best for their improvement.

Monsieur Hervé de Charette, thank you for efforts for the expansion and improvement the French-Azerbaijani relations. You have done much for raising the relations between France and Azerbaijan to such a high level within a short period of time, as the French Foreign Minister. Monsieur Hervé de Charette, your visit to Azerbaijan in October of the past year was a new stage in our relations, and I am very glad and thank you that our meeting and open talks about a number of problems of our relations and those connected with our region.

Three years have passed since my visit to France at the invitation of the deceased President Francois Mitterrand. We signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation between France and Azerbaijan and other documents then. Some work has been done in the past three years for the improvement relations between France and Azerbaijan. But this meeting, especially the meeting with Mr. President Chirac and the meeting and talks with the Foreign Minister Monsieur Hervé de Charette and my meetings with the chairmen of the Senate and National Assembly and other officials of France is a new stage in the French-Azerbaijani relations.

I am glad that France accepts Azerbaijan as partner in cooperation and I want to assure you that we shall be a worthy partner. We are for the expansion and deepening of cooperation between France and Azerbaijan in all the spheres of economy, culture, policy and humanitarian spheres. We build a democratic, legal and civil state in Azerbaijan and we are in need of experience in state building, market economy and free entrepreneurship. We use the French experience for this purpose and shall continue it. Namely this inspires us to close cooperation with France.

There are great opportunities for economic cooperation between France and Azerbaijan. We have taken some steps in this direction. The signature of the agreement on joint developments of the Azerbaijani oil deposits between the French companies \"Elf-Aquitaine\", \"Total\" and the State oil Company of Azerbaijan at the Élysée Palace with the participation of President Chirac is an important page of our cooperation. You are probably aware that the French \"Elf-Aquitaine\" was a participant of a big oil contract along with other transnational companies in June, last year. These companies established a consortium and began to explore the oil and gas deposits of Azerbaijan. There are other projects for on cooperation and M. Hervé de Charette spoke about them. I am stating that we shall take all necessary steps for their implementation.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan, a newly independent state, faces many hardships from inside and exterior. We eliminate the internal hardships with our on forces, and I am confident that we shall succeed. From this point of view, we attach great importance to the realization of reforms, privatization of the state property and attraction of foreign investment for the development of the Azerbaijani economy. We have opened our country to the world. Today, I am declaring here once more that those who wants to work jointly with Azerbaijan and do business in Azerbaijan can easily arrive in our country and have suitable conditions for a free cooperation.

What about the external hardships, this is an aggression committed by Armenia against our republic in order to tear out a part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh. This aggression resulted in a bloody conflict, occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory by the Armenian armed forces and expelling one million Azerbaijanis from this territory. These people live in tent camps for more than four years.

In May of 1994, a ceasefire agreement was achieved between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The ceasefire continues for two years and 8 months. We shall take further steps to sign a Great Peace Agreement. We firmly stand in the position of peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and shall do our best to succeed in such a settlement.

The conditions for this are the principles reflected in the statement of the OSCE chairman in the Lisbon Summit of the OSCE: the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and Republic of Azerbaijan, granting a high self-rule status to Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan and provision of security of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. We agreed with these principles and ready to hold negotiations until peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

But Armenia does not agree with them. That is why the support of all the OSCE members, members of the Minsk Group is necessary. There is no doubt that we hope to get assistance and support of France as well, as a member and taking this opportunity, I want to declare once more that we don`t want war, but peace. We want peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the Caucasus, all over the world and we believe that all peace-loving peoples and countries will support us in this issue. We believe that France will support all our proposals.

My visit to France is coming to an end, and I return to my motherland. Today, I want to say that I return to my motherland with great pleasure for being in Paris, France, and for such useful meetings with M. President Jacques Chirac and other French statesmen. Azerbaijan wants to be a friend of France. You can rely on us. We shall be a faithful friend. We shall use all existent opportunities to advance the French-Azerbaijani relations in all the spheres further.

I wish welfare and prosperity to France and happy life and peace to all the French people. I propose to raise glasses to the honor of France, to the Republic of France, to democracy of France, to the culture of France and to all the French people! To French President, my friend Jacques Chirac! To the French Foreign Minister Hervé de Charette and Madame Charette! To your health dear friends!
Thank you! 
Translated from \"Our independence is eternal\" VIII book, Azarnashr, Baku-1998