From the speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev with the regional representative of UNICEF on the Central and Eastern Europe, the CIS and the Baltic countries, Philip O`Brien - Presidential palace, 20 October, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Welcome to Azerbaijan. Relations and corporation between UNICEF and Azerbaijan assume great importance. Generally, formation of the organization like UNICEF in the frames of the UN is a great event. Its activities are of great importance.

Corporation of Azerbaijan with UNICEF began in 1993. I remember that when I participated at the General Assembly of the UN in New York, I signed the document on corporation between UNICEF and Azerbaijan. Up to know UNICEF has rendered assistance to the solution of many problems, especially to the prevention of diphtheria, poliomyelitis and others. I appreciate such activities of UNICEF very highly.

UNICEF has great chances for more beneficial and useful corporation with Azerbaijan. I suppose that after your acquaintance with the situation in our republic, you can prove the correctness of my words yourself .

We want to enlarge the corporation between UNICEF and Azerbaijan. Especially in the sphere connected with the life conditions of refugees, children who live in tents, we need this corporation very much.

Philip O`Brien: Your Excellency, thank you very much. I feel proud of being here today. Your country assisted to UNICEF in its mission in many spheres. First of all I want to congratulate You on the occasion of two great events.

First, I congratulate you on the occasion of the 9th anniversary of your country`s independence. I`m very glad to be here when you celebrate the Independence Holiday.

My second congratulation is connected with the success of Azerbaijan in the Olympic Games.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Philip O`Brien: I know that you personally assisted to the realization of projects of our organization in Azerbaijan. We share your trouble connected with the great number of refugee children in Azerbaijan.

I want to express my gratitude to you on behalf of the executive- director of UNICEF for the activities of the representative of Azerbaijan in the UN in the position of the Board of Directors of UNICEF. When I heard that Azerbaijan nominated its candidacy for the permanent place, in the permanent committee of UNICEF engaged in the protection of children`s rights, I became very happy.

Your Excellency, as you know, next September UNICEF will hold a summit on children`s rights in the frames of the UN. Secretary-General of the UN has invited you to the summit. I`m very glad, in my turn, to repeat this invitation to you on behalf of the Executive Director of UNICEF. This summit is supposed to be a great opportunity for exchanging the views in the sphere of protection of children`s rights and improvement of their lives. I hope that in my current position I will be in close contact with Azerbaijan for the next several years and have a chance to learn more about your country.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. At first, I want to thank you for your congratulations on the occasion of Independence Day and successes of Azerbaijan in the Olympic Games. In fact, for the first time Azerbaijan has reached such a high level at the XXVII Olympic Games. Undoubtedly, it is the result of the care to the children and the young generation in Azerbaijan. We are proud of winning 2 gold and 1 bronze medals. We managed to hold the 34th place among the 199 participant countries. Many countries stronger from the point of territory, number of population, as well as the economy lagged behind us.

Our bronze medalist boxer Vuqar Alekberov is 19 years-old. The gold medal winners are also young. It means that Azerbaijan cares and pay attention to its young people, and that is why young men have chances to demonstrate their abilities.

At the same time you know that as a result of the aggression of Armenia, 20% of the Azerbaijani territories have been occupied. Over one million Azerbaijani citizens were driven away from the occupied territories and for 7-8 years they have been living in very critical conditions, in tents.

You just imagine, the XX century is coming to an end, but a part of our people are still living in tents, children are born in tents, grow up in tents and get educated and marry in tents. Because of these facts, the life of the children in Azerbaijan is much more miserable than of those in other countries.

We know that there are countries in Africa, Asia where not only children, but also the adults suffer from terrible diseases. We are informed about. But the conditions in a country, situated in Europe are unbearable. That is why, your organization UNICEF shouldn`t treat the problems of different countries in the same manner. UNICEF must help each country individually.

I want you to spend 3-4 hours-, it is possible by helicopter, - and visit one of the tent camps. You will be terrified. You see that it is raining outside and it is not the first day. It will be snowing tomorrow. Then in summer it will become very hot. Every season has its difficulties for the people in tents. It`s so hard to live in tents under the rain and move in mud not only for adults, but also for children.

I know that you have nothing to do with the solution of these problems. But I think you are able to help the people in tents, take care of children. I want you, in general, UNICEF to make some changes in the program connected with Azerbaijan because of the reasons I`ve told you.

As you declared, the summit of the UN dedicated to children will be held on September, 2001. It is a very important event. Undoubtedly, I accept this invitation and will participate in the summit. Because we have too much to tell them. From this point, your visit to Azerbaijan and your close acquaintance with our country is of great importance. Taking into consideration your visit and my conversation with you, I want your organization to expand its activities, its assistance to Azerbaijan.

Philip O`Brien: Your Excellency, I`ll absolutely share all your wishes with the executive director of our organization with pleasure. Your sincere words describing the hard and unbearable living conditions of the refugee children impressed us very much. It shows that you are devoted to the issue of improvement of children`s life standards. I suppose that, you have already proved it in New York when you signed 2 documents on corporation with our organization.

Your Excellency, as a regional director of UNICEF, I wish I had the power to put an end to all these conflicts. But when you said that all these problems were beyond my power, you were quite right. We realize how the war affects the children, and it torments us.

You are right. In fact, together with UNICEF, we do not treat all the countries in the same way, it concerns the children, too. One of the features demonstrating the power of our organization is our assistance to the children which are in need of it. Representatives of our organization, my partners establish close contact with your government and make efforts to learn more about the needs of the refugee children and to help them. I want to assure you that we shall do all our best to solve the serious problems that you touched upon and increase assistance to Azerbaijan.

I`m sure that the Executive Director of UNICEF and Secretary-General of the UN will be very glad to hear the news about your participation in the summit. I`m also very glad. If you tell about the terrible life of the Azerbaijani refugee children so sincerely also in the summit, I`m sure that it will be a gift to our general ceremony. Together with the government of Azerbaijan and NGOs, the Baku office of UNICEF wants to improve the living conditions of the Azerbaijani children and make some changes in their lives. Be sure that I`ll myself be closely involved in these problems. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. Your words are very hopeful and I hope that my wishes will come true.

You said that you wish you to stop the conflicts. Azerbaijan wants it more than others. Because, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated as a result of Armenia`s invasion.

As I noted, 20% of our country`s territory is under occupation, and it has been entirely ruined. One million people have been driven out of their native lands. We want to put an end to this horror, we want peace with Armenia. We want to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We want to ensure the refugees to return home. Unfortunately, the position of Armenia is aggressive and not understandable in this problem. I also want to inform you about the discussions of these problems in the Security Consul of the UN in 1992-1993. It adopted 4 resolutions on this problem. The resolutions demand the immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories, but Armenia ignores these resolutions. I spoke on this problem on September 7, In New York in the UN and criticized the UN and its Security Consul for inability of implementing their resolutions. Undoubtedly, the UN is an organization of historic importance. We believe it. But if the decisions and resolutions adopted by the UN are not fulfilled by the countries, the UN must take measures. Please, convey my words to your Executive Director, too.

Next year, in September, I`ll visit your country. I wish we could stop the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan by that time. If we manage it, then the refugees will need some years to return to their native lands. But everything is ruined there. New buildings, houses must be built. We have many missions. I shall come to your country by all means.

Philip O`Brien: Your Excellency, I`m very pleased. Thank you very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.