From the talk of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with the participants of the First Partnership Forum of Women of GUUAM Countries held in Baku - September 20, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: It is very nice to meet you. I see that all of you are very beautiful. I welcome you. This is the first assembly of the representatives of the women`s organizations of GUUAM countries since the establishment of GUUAM. It is a good initiative. I hope that the work done here will be useful for us. We, presidents of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan, decided to establish this organization in Strasburg in 1997. Uzbekistan joined this organization in 1999. The organization has already won international reputation. Our last meeting took place in the Crimea, Ukraine, on the initiative of President Leonid Kuchma. Your activity completes our job, so I wish your initiative become a tradition.

It is pleasant for me to see guests from friendly countries. You have an opportunity to get acquainted with the life in our country. It is useful for our countries. Our countries, which were part of the Soviet Union, have been independent for 10 years. Ukraine has already celebrated its 10th anniversary of independence. We are going to celebrate our anniversary in October. Independence is a historical event and great achievement of our nations. At the same time, our countries have similar problems.

Our countries were part of the same Union, system and ideology. Now the transition period in our countries is under way. It is a very hard process. Transformations take place in economy, in social life, in the mentality of people. We used to live under the Soviet rule, so we were raised according to the ideology of that time. Therefore, this process is not so easy and goes on similar and different ways in our countries. It is similar because our course is the same. It is different because every country solves its problems in its own way. Some people still maintain their conservative views, while others think that it is easy to reach all the goals within a short time. In the transition period our countries have similar and different ways of development. So it is important to have relations between our countries, to learn from each other.

I am aware that the representatives of Moldova and Uzbekistan could not come. I welcome the Ukrainian delegation headed by Maria Andreevna Orlik, whom I have known her for a long time. I also greet the delegations of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

GUUAM consists of five countries, however, three countries are represented by the delegations. I am very happy that you have assembled here and are working effectively. I appreciate your job. I wish you the best. I see that Maria Andreevna wants to say something.

Maria Orlik (Chairman of the Women`s Union of Urkaine, head of the Ukrainian delegation): Dear Heydar Aliyevich. I also belong to your generation.

Heydar Aliyev: To the next generation.

Maria Orlik: In our case the age has not so much importance. I mean that I belong to the generation raised in the Soviet time. I shall never erase that period from my life. Because we have worked effectively then and created all what we have now as a basis for our independent countries.

Women always support the presidents in their countries. Therefore, the women of these five countries could not remain idle. The women working in parliaments, state bodies, NGOs are ready to help us to implement our targets. On behalf of our delegation I thank you very much for your initiatives for the establishment of GUUAM and the organization of this forum. We have achieved our aim, signed the document on the establishment of the women`s forum of GUUAM countries. We are going to elaborate our charter, plan our works, decide how effectively we can do our work. This is not my first visit to Azerbaijan. As you remember, we organized the days of the Ukrainian literature and art in Azerbaijan in 1979.

Heydar Aliyev: Then you headed the Ukrainian delegation as deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Ukraine.

Maria Orlik: I worked in that position for 12 years. Now I chair the Women`s Union of Ukraine. The friendship and mutual understanding between our nations are the basis of our meeting today. In my personal archive I have found a lot of interesting materials, which may remind you our youth.

Here is a material in the newspaper "Kommunist" about your receiving our delegation. This is the photo of our delegation. The next photo reflects the inauguration of the days of literature. On the next photo we are talking. Here in another picture we are in the Oil Rocks. Here you can see your late wife, who accompanied us in the Oil Rocks. There is a photo of our delegation when your received us. This picture was taken when we were awarded in the Supreme Soviet for the successful organization of the days of literature (Maria Orlik presents President Heydar Aliyev the archive materials and photos). Let them remind you those times.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Maria Orlik: I present you two books - "Masterpiece of the Ukrainian culture" and "The Women of Ukraine" - published by the Women`s Union of Ukraine. I want them to remind you our friendship.

Heydar Aliyev: Maria Andreevna, thank you. Do you have copies of these photos?

Maria Orlik: I present them to you.

Heydar Aliyev: And do you have a copy of this newspaper? I don`t want you to lose it.

Maria Orlik: They are for you. I want to present them to you. I was given all the materials as the head of the delegation. I would like them to remind you our meetings, more important, the friendship between our nations.

We were welcomed here very well. We feel like at home. We have carried out our tasks. Now we can report our president about the job done. I hope that our presidents will implement all what they have planned. We support you.

Heydar Aliyev: Maria Andreevna, thank you. These photos remind me the old days. I remember that the days of Ukraine took place in Azerbaijan in 1979 successfully. The organization of such measures was a tradition. Later the days of Azerbaijan were held in Ukraine. Then the Azerbaijani delegation was headed by Bagirov, Secretary of the Central Committee on ideology. The Soviet republics had such exchange measures held in high level. A lot of prominent men of-art came from Ukraine to Azerbaijan then.

Maria Orlik: 400 people came here by 2 special planes.

Heydar Aliyev: For example, I remember the famous singer Solovyanenko.

Maria Orlik: Sofia Rotaru was present, too.

Heydar Aliyev: By the way, I met Sofia Rotaru recently. When I worked in Moscow, she visited my family, met my wife and my daughter. I told her that I feel like she is my daughter. Then she was on a visit in Moscow. My wife invited her to our dacha. My daughter is interested in music, as well. Since then I had not seen her. She was invited to the informal meeting of the heads of CIS countries in Sochi in August, where she performed well.

Later I approached her. She said to me that she always remembers me. She is a good person and singer. By the way, Soloyanenko also visited Azerbaijan after I became President. He is a good friend of our Muslim Magomayev. I was very sad when I learned about his death. I sent Leonid Kuchma a telegram. Solovyanenko always made a good impression on me. I remember all these meetings. Thank you for the photos. I don`t know if I have these photos in my own archive.

Maria Orlik: I have found them in my archive. You may search in yours, too.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Maria Orlik: By the way, Ukraine always remembers your help and care for our problems when you were the first deputy prime minister of the Soviet Union. Then we dreamed about independence, later we achieved it. I have been in your cabinet a few times where you solved our problems. I thank you for this very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you for not forgetting. As I had been the leader of a country for many years, I knew the problems of the countries unlike my colleagues in the Political Bureau. Because most of them worked in Russia, not in other Soviet countries. But in order to understand the problems of other constituent countries, one should have worked there.

As I presided over the republic for a long time, I witnessed the indifference of some officials in Moscow to the problems of the constituent republics. Our country, the Soviet Union was established in 1922 as a voluntary union.

Maria Orlik: We know what the voluntary union was.

Heydar Aliyev: Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in the Political Bureau did not understand the problems. But I did. I also solved some problems related to Ukraine. A big country, Ukraine had many unsolved problems. You worked in humanitarian field. So did I. I controlled many fields, including social and cultural fields. Many first secretaries of different regions addressed me because of the problems. I always tried to solve them.

Maria Orlik: You were a motivating force there. That`s why we appealed you. Thank you once more.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you for not forgetting. Does the Georgian delegation want to say anything?

Irina Evania (expert of the Georgian governmental commission on improvement of the women`s conditions, expert on conflicts): Distinguished Heydar Aliyevich, I am a bit nervous. Let me thank you on behalf of the Georgian delegation for receiving us, the participants of the first cooperation forum of the women of GUUAM countries. You have always spoken about the possible contributions of the women to the implementation of the aims and tasks declared by you, the leaders of the countries, who established GUUAM. We have serious plans. We have worked effectively and decided that we shall work further. Distinguished Heydar Aliyevich, we attach great importance to the expansion of relations with our friends from Azerbaijan. I am sure that my colleagues have something to say. Thank you.

Tamara Abashidze (senior referent of the Georgian governmental commission on improvement of the women`s conditions, expert on conflicts): Mr. President, I am also nervous. I also thank you for your attention to us, the participants of the forum. We always rely on your support. We shall always remember that as a real leader and prominent politician you chose friendship with our country. We highly appreciate it. We are sure that the relations between the women of Azerbaijan and Georgia will set for the women of other countries of GUUAM. Thank you very much. We are leaving Baku with the best feelings and sure that we shall meet in Tbilisi, Chishinau, Kiev, Tashkent again. Our meeting with you is important for our further cooperation. Mr. President, thank you. 

Heydar Aliyev: Georgia is our neighbor and friend. Our friendship has long history. We have been co-existing for centuries. The situation in the Caucasus is not normal. There is a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia has problems in Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia. There are also problems in the south of Russia, the northern Caucasus, Chechnya. Unfortunately, our region is a conflict zone. These conflicts affect every country in the region. I think that we shall solve them. We are not guilty in the outbreak of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, neither in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. Armenia tried to occupy the Azerbaijani territories and started an aggression against Azerbaijan in 1988. The Azerbaijanis and Armenians co-existed there.

Georgia has a rich history. Abkhazia is a part of Georgia. Before it was too hard for us to distinguish the Georgians and the Abkhazians. But now the Abkhazians have a separatist position. But what have they gained? What has Armenia has achieved? Nothing. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as Abkhazia and Georgia have suffered a lot. Fortunately, there is a close friendship between the peoples and between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Eduard Shevardnadze and I have been close friends for a long time. When I was the leader of Azerbaijan, he headed Georgia. We also worked in Moscow together. Later we returned to our countries and became presidents. We have a lot of problems. But the friendship between us and between our peoples helps us solve many complicated problems. We have implemented into life big projects. Seven years have passed since we signed a historical contract with 11 foreign oil companies on joint developments in the deposits of Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. We chose Georgia to export our oil, constructed the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline and put it into operation in 1999. We have been engaged in the realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline for a few years. The project is ready. Soon its construction will start. Azerbaijan also has gas. After the Contract of Century we signed many other contracts. A very big gas deposit has been discovered. We need to export this gas to the world markets, so we have chosen the route through Georgia once more. Probably we shall sign a contract with Georgia soon. Turkey and Azerbaijan have already signed such a contract. We shall start the construction of a gas pipeline. It is designated for the next generations of Azerbaijan and Georgia. We open new opportunities. The pipelines laid through Georgia will strengthen the friendship between Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Our neighboring regions also live very friendly I meet President Shevardnadze very often. Perhaps we shall meet this month. I am happy to see the representatives of the Georgian women. They belong to the young generation. It is good. We should continue our work. So we have to prepare the next generation for this. It is pleasant to see you here.

Does the Azerbaijani delegation want to say anything?

Zahra Guliyeva (chairman of the State Committee on Women`s Problems): Distinguished President! We were happy when GUUAM was established by four countries in 1997. Uzbekistan joined it in 1999. The population of the countries of GUUAM is more 90 million. Half of this figure is women. It means that woman is a great power. We want and help our presidents reach the future targets.

We thank you for the support of our idea on the establishment of the women`s forum of GUUAM. Our republic had relevant conditions for establishing this forum. It took place in the Gulustan Palace. You sent a telegram of congratulation to our forum. Mr. President, it attached great importance for the forum. We thank you for that telegram. We, the female participants of the forum, remember the platform of the 4th World Women`s Conference, our targets and that we were raised during the Soviet time. We have always had friendly relations. The significance of the First Women`s Conference of GUUAM is to strengthen the friendship between our nations and to pass it to the next generations.

We thank you for your support. Nowadays gender problems, equal rights between men and women are attached great attention. We have had such equal rights since 1918. You implemented the gender program into life when you headed our republic during your first period.

The gender problem was being solved in Azerbaijan in 1969, while it was not even discussed in the world. The women were promoted to high positions for the first time in the history of Azerbaijan. We still feel your attention to the problems of the women. The decree issued by you on March 6, 2000 on the role of women in policy making was adopted as an official document of the UN and sent to many countries.

We are proud that our president pays attention to the problems of the women. We, all the women of Azerbaijan, feel this attention. We are proud of our president. We want to help our president to maintain the independence of our country.

We are happy for the establishment of GUUAM and the organization of the first forum of the women in Azerbaijan. Along the delegations of Ukraine and Georgia, experts from Moldova and Uzbekistan took part at the forum. They participated in the ceremony when we signed the Baku Memorandum. They assured us that they would deliver their women all the documents adopted here. The forum was a success. Very good conditions were created for every delegation. Almost everyone from the Ukrainian delegation made speech in the forum. So did the Georgian delegation and our representatives. Over 100 people took part at the forum. Along the official delegations, female members of the parliament, representatives of NGOs, scientists, famous figures participated. The second half of the meeting was held in five sections. The work in the sections was very interesting. Everyone was very active in the work of sections.

Some issues, including legislation, activity of women NGOs, gender problems were discussed. We raised serious problems, such as how to help to the women suffering from the war, protection of the rights of the refugee women and children living in tents. We plan to visit a refugee camp tomorrow. There are a lot of refugee camps in different places of our republic. But we have chosen a closer place, which is Sabirabad. I want our guests to see in what conditions our refugees live. As you said, it may be possible to live in those conditions for a few months, but not for years. It is too hard. It will be also hard for their rehabilitation. We think that if we have solidarity with the women of GUUAM countries, they will support us, protect the rights of the women and children, struggle for peace together with us. We, women, mothers, no matter in which country we live, always wish our children and the next generations peace and stability. Thus, such solidarity is very important for us. We thank you for establishing this solidarity. You always support us. We shall carry out our tasks. You mentioned the oil contracts. Today is the seventh anniversary of the first oil contract. We are aware how hard it was for our president to achieve the signature of this oil contract. Some believed in it, while some did not. Some external and internal forces wanted to obstacle its signature. However, the contract was signed. I congratulate you on the seventh anniversary of the contract. We adore you. We want to work like you, but it is too hard for us. Your working style motivates all the Azerbaijani people to support you. On behalf of all the participants we want to present you the folder of documents and the carpet with the logo of the forum.

Heydar Aliyev: Zahra khanum, thank you. You told about the forum very detailed like our friends. When you raised this initiative, I found it very useful. It is pleasant for me to feel that this work is useful not only for the women, but for all the people. It is good that you are going to visit the refugees who have been living in tents for 8-9 years. The conditions in Sabirabad are very bad. But there is a worse place, which is Bilasuvar. You will see it yourselves. It is too hard to imagine how people live in those conditions, they survive in tents every season. You will see how many people live in a small tent. It makes hard impressions. I visit the refugee camps frequently. I think how patient they are. When you are there, nobody will complain about the conditions. When I visit them, I hear that some people complain, but in general they express their trust in me that their problems will be solved soon.

The cities and districts where hundreds of thousands of people used to live have been ruined. They had been created for centuries though. Now everything there has been destroyed. Now we have a task to end the occupation, achieve peace, liberate the occupied territories, restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, return the refugees home. The refugees will definitely return. But it will take a lot of time to restore everything in the occupied territories. So we have so many difficulties that you can not even imagine. The liberation of the occupied territories and the restoration of our territorial integrity are the main issues in the agenda. We want to solve the conflict peacefully.

Some people call for the military way of solution of the problem. But those people will not go to war, if the war breaks out. But the responsibility lies on the government. The war would cause many losses. Because each party has its army to fight. The ceasefire we have achieved by us allows stabilize the situation in the country, develop the domestic economy and protect the human lives. Do you remember how many people we have lost in the war? Perhaps you have visited the Martyrs` Avenue. What you have seen is just a migure part of what has happened. Therefore, we strive to solve the conflict peacefully. However, it is too hard because of the destructive position of Armenia. The Armenian government uses the factor of occupying our territories. But I still believe that we have a chance to settle the problem peacefully. Unlike other people I take into account the future perspectives.

What shall we do then? Later we have to rebuild hospitals, schools, houses. What the refugees used to have in the occupied territories has been destroyed. So we have to recreate everything. It will take a lot of time and finances. We have a big problem to solve. But I want to achieve its solution. I want to liberate our occupied territories, restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan peacefully. The second part of our job will take many years. Tomorrow you will visit the refugee camp in Sabirabad. The refugees there have been living in hard condition for eight years. They will welcome you cordially. They will not complain so much. I like your initiative to visit at least one refugee camp in order to learn the hard conditions that the refugees live in.

I think that our forum was successful. The documents adopted by you are of great importance for us. Perhaps you will send them to international organizations. It will be a big support for us. You just mentioned that over half of the population of the world is female. We have such a tendency in our country, too. Woman is a big power. What would men do without women? But it would be hard for women without men either. As a man I have to say that there is no life without women. Women are also worthy people. We can be proud that our people have achieved so much. Now our women are free, they take an active part in the society, 50-60 per cent of the teachers at our schools is female. This is a tendency of the former Soviet Union.

Now the Soviet Union is being criticized too much. There are enough reasons for that. I shall never forget the Soviet period. No one should do that. Because without the Soviet period our countries would have never won such big economic, political, social, cultural and intellectual potentials, which became the basis for our independence. Our countries created schools, hospitals, infrastructure then. They were created for decades. Therefore, I think that we shall solve all our problems. I am optimistic about our future. We need and shall pass this transitional period.

I thank you once more. Please, convey my regards to the Ukrainian women. Everybody loves women. I love women. The Azerbaijani women mean a lot to me. There was an armed attempt to overthrow the government in 1994. It was a complicated period then. I had been President for one year. The people who attempted coup d`etat were armed. Then I addressed to our people on TV. It was 10 or 11 p.m. I asked our people to save our statehood. Two hours later the square was full of people. Nearly half million people gathered there, even though there was no transport at night. When I met them, I saw a lot of women among those people.

I was impressed when I saw the women with children in their arms. They assembled there with no fear. It would be easier for men. But the women came there. Our women have always supported me.

Maria Orlik: By the way, they organized this forum with your approval. The Azerbaijani women are incredibly active. They had prepared all the documents and sent to other republics. So we came here prepared. We read all the documents and projects before the forum. You have very good women.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. Please, convey my regards to the women of Ukraine and Georgia. Please, convey my best regards to my friends Leonid Kuchma and Eduard Shevardnadze.


Then President Heydar Aliyev and the participants took a picture.

President of Azerbaijan looked through the book "The Women of Ukraine" presented by Maria Orlik. He charged Zahra Guliyeva, chairman of the State Committee of Women Problems to publish such a book about the prominent women of Azerbaijan.

Maria Orlik: Heydar Aliyevich, this book includes biographies of three thousand women starting with Olga of Kiev.

Heydar Aliyev: It is a very good book.

Member of the Ukrainian parliament Elena Bondarenko addressed President Heydar Aliyev:

"Let me wish you the best. You are a wise leader of the Azerbaijani women."

Heydar Aliyev: "Please, convey my regards to Ivan Plyushch. He visited Azerbaijan. Do you have many female members in your parliament?"

Elena Bondarenko: "There are 37 women in our parliament. There are less women MPs than men MPs. I think that your wise leadership will set a good example for us, too.

Heydar Aliyev: "At least, there are women MPs, though their number is not so big."

Chairman of the Women`s Council of the Congress of the Ukrainian Azerbaijanis Metanet Rzayeva addressed President Heydar Aliyev:

"I want to convey you the best regards of the Azerbaijanis of Ukraine. I can`t express my feelings. I shall tell our women about how we met you. I always hear only the best about you wherever I am. I was told how you helped the reconstruction of Kiev Conservatory. Your name is mentioned only positively everywhere. We are proud of your deeds. We feel your support even in Ukraine. Your friendship with Leonid Kuchma has a good impact on our relations.

Maria Orlik: "The Congress of the Ukrainian Azerbaijanis is an active organization. Over half of a million Azerbaijanis live in Ukraine."

Heydar Aliyev: "I am informed about it. It has offices in every region of Ukraine. The Azerbaijanis in Ukraine voted for Leonid Kuchma."

Metanet Rzayeva: "In Ukraine there is few information about the processes in Azerbaijan. We try to inform the Ukrainian society about Azerbaijan as much as possible."

Heydar Aliyev: "It is good. But Fatma khanum should be concerned of it. There is less information about Azerbaijan not only in Ukraine, but in other countries, as well. It is an important issue. By the way, we shall organize the Assembly of Azerbaijanis of the World in November.

I am satisfied with the Congress of the Ukrainian Azerbaijanis. So is Leonid Kuchma. I wish the Azerbaijanis in other countries could be so much organized. Please, convey my regards to all the women."

Irina Golubeva (chairman of the National Council of the Ukrainian Women): "There is a union, called Novaya Ukraina, which includes tens of parties. I heard a young man making a speech in fluent Ukrainian. He was the deputy chairman of the Congress.

I proposed Mrs. Rzayeva to join our organization. I thank you for your initiative. You involved us to the solution of problems within GUUAM. We discussed the peace initiatives. We included in our resolution that we shall always held women`s forums.