From the speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the world-renowned cardiac surgeon in a hospital in Houston, professor Michael E. DeBakey - Houston, August 3, 1997

Dear Dr. DeBakey,

We are extremely pleased to meet you. This is a historic event for us.

When I was preparing for the visit to the US, it became clear that I would visit Houston. No sooner had we determined this visit than had I decided to include a meet­ing with you and a visit to your medical center into my program. I am happy that now I have this chance to meet you, because we all know you as a legendary man.

I remember that your name became famous when the first heart transplant was successfully completed. We lived in the Soviet Union then. One could read many articles about you in the press. It was a miracle for us: is it possible to transplant the heart? All these are in the past now. You have accomplished tremendous deeds since then. You are a unique person. I have personally always been amazed by your person­ality.

You have recently appeared on the Russian television a few times. President Boris Yeltsin\'s illness caused quite a concern in Russia with his heart surgery. You were invited, and you successfully did the operation. We constantly watch the Russian televi­sion. Although we can tune in to the U.S. CNN and other broadcasting channels in Azerbaijan, we cannot watch American television all the time because of the time dif­ference. However, since Russia and Azerbaijan are located almost in the same time zone, we watch the Russian television more often. I personally watched your arrival in Moscow and your detailed explanations about the coming operation. I was aware of the operation that you performed. This was not an isolated case. Your operations in other parts of the world were well publicized, too. When I came here, you pointed to your sculpture that was created after the King of Belgium was treated by you. You fully deserve such things. These photos, all these exhibits display your successes.

Another aspect about you that strikes the world public is that you have been engaged in this work for many years and are still very active in the field. The surgeons usually have very hard work to perform. You obviously have great fortitude. Despite all the work you have done so far, you are still actively involved in the industry. I com­mend and congratulate you. I consider my meeting with you a remarkable event in my life.

We are not in need of any operation yet. However, I still want to invite you to visit our country, Azerbaijan.

You know that I am on an official visit in the United States at the invitation of President Bill Clinton. I have held numerous meetings and negotiations. On August 1st, I had a very productive meeting with President Clinton, and we signed very important bilateral doc­uments. The relations between our countries are those of real partners. Our cooperation in oil industry in particular is growing fast.

Houston became a sister-city of the Azerbaijani capital Baku 25 years ago. I headed Azerbaijan then. I was one of the initiators of this friendship. I am happy that I came to Houston after 25 years.

I thank for your attention and hospitality. The information you provided was nothing short of being fascinating. I wish you success in your endeavors.

Michael Debakey: Mr. President, thank you very much.

Mr. President, I would like to note that our prominent schools, research centers and, in general, this medical center can closely cooperate with Azerbaijan. We can set up executive education of your doctors and scientists. Please, let us know if we can help in any area. We shall do that with great pleasure.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. We shall certainly benefit from these opportunities.

Michael Debakey: Mr. President, I would like to give you my business card too.

Heydar Aliyev: I am also presenting you with these books. But I would also like to write my thoughts in them.

Michael Debakey: Mr. President, you will visit a children\'s hospital after this meeting. You will notice there that 31 years ago when the first space satellite was launched, we made a historic discovery in the history of surgical operations. That dis­covery was the ability to demonstrate different parts of the human body using laser. You will see it first hand there. Then we could utilize that satellite and watch the surgery per­formed in Houston from Geneva. This capability had tremendous ramifications. We termed it telemedicine here. In future, if you want to make these facilities acces­sible to your people, then we would set up such telemedical equipment in your country. Thus, we would make sure that everyone could benefit from the use of the telemedicine.

In order to keep in close contact with us, we need to establish such a telemedical center in Azerbaijan. We have done such a project in many countries. Let me give you an example that would clarify my ideas. For instance, we have recently examined and diagnosed a patient from the Far East while we were physically located here in Houston. The results were excellent. In other words, we can perform all the surgical operations via telemedicine. This is a great tool to know about in a timely fashion.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much. I would like to present you with this little gift. It is an Azerbaijani rug. You can hang it wherever you wish.

Michael Debakey: This is a fabulous rug, and I am accepting it as a very pre­cious gift. Thank you very much. Mr. President, I am much satisfied with our meeting. I would like to stress again that if you need anything, please inform me.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev invited Professor DeBakey to visit Azerbaijan. Mr. DeBakey expressed his deep satisfaction with the invitation and gladly accepted it.

The document was taken from the edition of “Together towards the New Century”