Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the VIII meeting of ‎TURKSOY International Organization held in Baku - The State Theatre of Song ‎named after Rashid Behbudov, November 6, 1996‎

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Dear guests, friends!

Today very significant events are happening in the life of the Azerbaijan Republic. In the first half of the day, III congress of writers of the Turkic world opened in Baku and in the second half of the day, the summit of TURKSOY International organization starts its work. Then meetings with the guests, who have arrived in Azerbaijan, will be taken place and, at last, solemn ceremonies connected with 500-years anniversary of great poet Mohammed Fizuli will be held on November 8. So, the ancient Azerbaijan land, our independent republic meets its friends, guests, embraces its friends, guests and I welcome with all my heart everyone, who have esteemed our country, shown respect, sympathy to anniversary of Mohammed Fizuli and arrived in Azerbaijan.

Dear friends, I heartily congratulate you on the occasion of beginning the work of VIII assembly of TURKSOY International Organization and I wish you successes in your work.

With feeling of great satisfaction, I note that for last period TURKSOY has passed the big way, achieved good successes, shown its importance and big future to both Turkic states and all world. It causes a feeling of great satisfaction that TURKSOY is already the international organization. It has established direct communications with the UNESCO, being a part of the United Nations Organization. It causes a feeling of great satisfaction that today representatives of the Republic of Georgia, its minister of culture and representatives, the deputy minister of culture of the Russian Federation have come to the next session of TURKSOY Organization and they are participating at this meeting. All this proves that the culture has great opportunities. All this proves that culture assumes great importance and can have big merits in the solution of heavy, difficult, political and economic, social problems with which people now meet in the modern world.

Therefore we - the Azerbaijan Republic, our state have always marked importance of TURKSOY International Organization from the date of its creation till today, declared our opinion about it. Today, participating in VIII session of TURKSOY Organization, on behalf of our people and the state I declare that we will use our best efforts for more successful activity of this organization in the future as well.

Today, listening to ministers of culture of the countries-members of TURKSOY organization, I am covered with great feelings. It is the new world, the new period. We finish XX century. We have passed through many stages. We have lived very happy days of our life and at the same time seen bloody, tragical days. And consequently, each new event, undoubtedly, interests us and it is valuable inherently.

Creation of TURKSOY and its extensive activity is really one of the events pleasing our peoples, countries very much.

In due time, we had very close relations with Turkic people, having Turkic roots, Turkic republics in the countries of Central Asia.

In due time, we had close relations with Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, conducted meetings, our cultural workers have closely cooperated, we have held days of culture in our countries. But we have never seen that our cultures were so close, as today. Personally, I have repeatedly visited the countries of Central Asia and the state heads of these countries, heads of republics and representatives of culture visited Azerbaijan. But we have never addressed to each other in the language concerning our root, at these meetings we have not used our language and explained sense of our cultures in our languages. Seeing all this, I am very much pleased and I consider that it is the beginning of our great future.

Interstate relations between Turkish Republic and Azerbaijan have five years' history. But friendly and brotherly relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan have passed from century to century. Unfortunately, in XX century our communications have been very limited and even stopped. We received information on the events occurring in Turkey only from world press. Our brothers, sisters in Turkey looked at Azerbaijan with melancholy and received very little information on the events, processes happening here. But now, after we got independence, became free, we have established wide communications for a short time. Those relations, which now are available between Turkey and Azerbaijan, perhaps have never been such wide, deep for all history.

Our language, culture are the same, besides we are neighbors. But how far we have been from each other, lived from each other, how much we have missed each other. Today we are already together. Today we speak in a language which is clear to everybody and we reach our sincere words to each other.

Membership of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan in TURKSOY is especially significant event. It is very pleasant. Both Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are big republics. We are very glad that these republics have achieved great authority in the structure of the Russian Federation. These authorities are at very high level. They had got already an opportunity both to analyze and propagandize comprehensively their culture, national heritage, national history as they wish.

I have repeatedly met with representatives of Tatarstan in ceremonies, assemblies and also personally. But we have never spoken in a language which is clear to both sides.

Today, I was delighted very much that ministers of culture of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan spoke in their native languages and even in spite of the fact that I well knew these countries, I could not imagine any way that these languages are so close to the Azerbaijani language and comprehensible.

All of these are results of the big political changes occurring in the world. All of these are the fruits of the state independence, national freedom reached by our peoples. All of these are the beginning of the new era, the new brilliant future for us. We are happy that all these were granted to us by a destiny. We are founders of this future. I hope that we will see both this future and subsequent generations on advantage will estimate the work done by us.

It is very pleasant that today delegations of Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation are taking part at the next summit of TURKSOY Organization. I listened with the great pleasure to minister of culture of Georgia mister Asatiani. I also listened with the great pleasure to the deputy minister of culture of the Russian Federation, mister Sherbakov who is very honorable and close to us. Very warm, positive attitude to TURKSOY in both speeches, desire to cooperate with this organization and encouraging words about the future cooperation please us very much.

There was one very interesting moment in mister Sherbakov's speech. He said that Turkic people take the second place after Slavic people in the Russian Federation and their number is 12 million. He notified that very big attention and care are shown to cooperation of Slavic people with Turkic people in the Russian Federation. It is a pleasant factor. In the past we had never touched upon these issues, could not touch upon them. That is, even if we wanted to touch, it would mismatch requirements of that time. But, as you see, events, changes which have occurred in the world, including in the former Soviet Union, achievement of independence by the states, republics, the big feeling of respect and esteem from the Russian Federation to the state independence of former republics of the Soviet Union create conditions for occurrence and uses of such factors.

Once again, I note that all of these are results of the changes which have appeared recently. These all have created fine conditions and opened big ways for close cooperation of our countries - both the Turkic states and the neighboring states of the Turkic states.

In all assemblies of heads of the Turkic states special significance is attached to TURKSOY organization. On October 21, in Tashkent at the 4-th meeting of heads of the Turkic states, we discussed many questions connected with sphere of culture and put many obligations before this organization in the Tashkent declaration which has already been declared. These are known to you. I consider that the declaration, accepted by heads of the Turkic states in Tashkent, has put new important obligations before TURKSOY organization. Their implementation will lead to revival of work of this organization. I would like to express hope that at VIII assembly, held in Baku, you will closely discuss the problems which have been put forward in the Tashkent declaration and will take necessary measures for their realization.

As a whole, the basic purpose of meetings of heads of Turkic states is development of economic cooperation, expansion of all other relations which are available between our countries. We declare that our meetings have no political character. TURKSOY organization has no political character too. At the same time, we can not and we will not remain indifferent to the political questions connected with a life of our countries. But I repeat, the basic direction of our activity is expansion of cooperation in the field of economy, sciences, education and culture.

From this point of view, activity of TURKSOY organization is of great importance for us, for heads of these states. The majority of the decisions, reflected in the Tashkent declaration, concern science, culture, education. Many of them should be carried out by means of TURKSOY. And consequently, I believe that you will take necessary measures for expansion of all these relations in the future.

Undoubtedly, political processes, social and economic difficulties in our countries do not give an opportunity to pay necessary attention and material aid to culture. You know that 20 percents of Azerbaijan's territory were occupied as a result of aggression by the Armenian armed forces. More than 1 million our fellow citizens, Azerbaijanis were violently expelled from the native lands and live in position of refugees. In such condition, undoubtedly, the basic part of our activity consists of leading Azerbaijan out of this heavy position, to restore territorial integrity of our country, to release the occupied lands, to return our fellow citizens, expelled from native places, to their homes, native lands and at the same time, to carry out economic reforms, to improve social and economic position of the population. All this, it is possible to tell, makes essence of activity of our state, the government, that is, basically we direct our activity on it. It takes main part of our time and we are compelled to devote all our work to it. But, despite it, culture, science, education remain the most important questions for us.

One of the important problems for increase of a level of our culture, science, education and morality of people is development of cultural, scientific-technical relations. TURKSOY carries out this work and the experience, which has been gained for a short term - three years - proves that this organization can conduct effective work and even great work for our countries, peoples as well as henceforth. It consists of establishing close relations between our people. For our people, expansion of these relations by means of culture, literature is very necessary and important.

The orators, who acted here, also said that acceptance of various measures has already yielded its result. But big duties are ahead. For example, in the Tashkent declaration we have recommended TURKSOY to make a general calendar of the Turkic peoples of the countries entering into this organization. Probably, in the future this calendar will provide joint celebrating the events connected with history, culture, historical past of each people, carrying out of necessary anniversary ceremonies, celebrations.

From this point of view, conducting the anniversary of Mohammed Fizuli is the result of development of relations of our peoples in last years. Arrival of the high-ranking delegation in Azerbaijan from many countries - Turkic, neighboring countries - for participation in these anniversary celebrations and many other things - shows occurrence of a new stage in a life of our republics, peoples, countries. All this gladdens us. All this creates a good basis for the future of TURKSOY organization.

I am very satisfied with today's meeting with you. I wish you successes in this work. Taking this opportunity, I express my respect and gratitude to peoples of the countries entering into TURKSOY organization and peoples of the countries, of which delegations participate in this ceremony. I send them my friendly greetings. Thank you, good luck in your activities. See you next time.