From the talks of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev when he received the Greek deputy foreign minister ─░oannis Maqriotis - June 18 2003.

Heydar Aliyev: I highly appreciate your current visit to Azerbaijan. Your term as the chairman in the EU is coming an end. During this period the EU did a great deal. And naturally Greece played a great part in it.

─░oannis Maqriotis : Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving us a chance, to me and to my colleguies to meet you again. I took notes of all that you told me in our previous meeting and approached them carefully and with consideration. A year and a half has passed since our first meeting. During this period Baku has been changed a lot. You have moved ahead very well. Th term of chairmanship of Greece in the EU is now coming an end. We decided to pay visits to the countries of the Caucasus and exchange our views about the work performed under the chairmanship of Greece.

Mr. President! As you know, while being Chairman of the EU, Greece included the quession of the Caucasean countries for the first time to the agenda of the EU. Although the Iraq conflict took plenty of time and effected the dynamics of our work, but we think in this period a number of things have been carried out. I would like to bring it to your attention that a special representative of the EU to the Caucasean countries has been appointed. And this took place during our chairmanship in the EU. It is also noteworty that Denmark propounded the same proposal when it was the chairman of the EU, but its proposal then was not accepted by the EU countries. However they accepted particularly our suggestion. That representative is working on a number of issues, especially on the conflicts of this region.

I would like to state particularly the TASIS program. Within the framework of this program a good deal of work was done and the program, actually, has been updated according to the realities and requirements of Azerbaijan. The dialogue regarding the energy issues has already started between Azerbaijan and the EU representatives. I am pleased to note that your specialists of gas industry visited our country and quite beneficial exchange of views took place. I know well that the production of enefgy bearers is very important both for Azerbaijan and the EU. I can say that we are now oppening new stage in the establishment of relations in this field and in future this will be a representation of Europe here. Mr. President, in autumn our President Konstantinos Stefanopulos will visit Azerbaijan at your invitation. Signing a lot of documents of mutual understanding and agreement are expected during that visit. Especially plenty of documents of economic nature are included in the file to be signed. In that visit a group of Greek buzinessmen will accompany the Presidnet.

Mr. President, at the conclusion I would like to say that in November 2001 when we met, you expressed your wish to raise our political relations to a high level. As you see, we have already began to cooperate with you in all the spheres. I hope this cooperation will expand more. We have many common things and there are wide possibilities for cooperation. I hope after the visit of our president to Azervbaijan these possibilities will be enlarged and we will be able to cover all the possible spheres of cooperation.

Merkurios Karafotias (Ambassador of Greece to Baku): Mr. President, this includes not only the relations between Greece and Azerbaijan. It includes the relations between Azerbaijan and the EU as well. Greece, in the EU will always support Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev: I am pleased with the information about the work you performed during your term of chairmanship in the EU. These are the result of our joint effors. Along with that I would like to note that during the chairmanship of Greece in the EU, the Caucausean countries, particularly Azerbaijan have established very effective relations. And naturally, Greece played a great part in it. I welcome your large-scale activities in the Caucasean countires, including Azerbaijan. We are ready to cooperate further with you in all the spheres you mentioned.

It is natural that we have to keep close relations with the EU. Sometimes it sounds strange: Azerbaijan is a European country and at the same time, we are talking about the relations between Azerbaijan and the EU. We are a Euoropean country. If we are now not a member of the EU, it doesnt mean that Azerbaijan is not a European country. I think it is not of much importance. Yes, we began to cooperate with the EU lately. But we make efforts and will do our best to get the possibilities for entering joining the EU.

Cooperation in oil and gas field has great perspectives. We are trying to be more active in this sphere. It is needed that the EU, especially Greece to adhere to their position completely. I am looking forward your President to visit Azerbaijan. Because of me, we couldnt meet him. But we will meet at the time you mentioned. We will receive the Greek President in Azerbaijan and discuss the economic issues which you were talking about. We also have our proposals and we will sign certain documents. I think Greece will contine its cooperation with Azerbaijan as a member of the EU even after its term of cairmanship after the expiration of the term of its chairmanship in the EU. The appointment of the representative of the EU to the Southern Caucausus just during your term of office proves how Greece pays great attention to the Caucasus. We will cooperate with your representative, and, of course, will look forward the special representative to be appointed to Azerbaijan.

On the whole, I think there are good perspectives for the development of relations between Azerbaijan and the EU. We carry out necessary works in this direction and will continue doing it hence. 

"Azerbaijan" newspaper,  June 19 2003