Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the official reception hosted by the President of Georgia in honor of the President of Azerbaijan - March 8, 1996

Mr. President, chairman of the Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,

Today is very significant for me and for the Azerbaijani delegation arrived with me in Georgia, its capital Tbilisi. My friend Eduard Shevardnadze described it as a historical event. I suppose that if a very important document signed between the independent Georgia and Azerbaijan, if the heads of the two republics, the two peoples and two independent countries came together, met and made decisions for the development of further cooperation, it is truly a historic event.

God almighty has blessed our people. Benefit is that our peoples had the fortune to be neighboring nations and live in close relations with each other. It is really a great happiness. Our ancestors and great-grandfathers saw the fruits of this happiness. Our task is to give eternal life to these traditions and continue to pass them on to future generations on a higher level. The fate, which God has given us, united us for centuries. Living and working together as brothers and friends we have reached bright and happy days. Many generations before us created this friendship and brotherhood, gave them life and developed. We are lucky enough to perpetuate these friendly and fraternal relations in the second half and at the end of XX century and pass them to future generations.

One can give numerous facts and evidences of the close relations between our peoples for centuries. Our thinkers, intelligentsia, scientists, writers, composers, artists and ordinary people always have been friends supporting each other in hard times and attended the events of each other on joyful days. My friend Eduard Shevardnadze remembered the words of our great poet, Samad Vurgun. I remember the friendship between Giorgi Leonidze and Samad Vurgun. What a sincere friendship it was! What significant contribution they have made to the life of our peoples! The heritage left to us and in particular the heritage of Grigol Abashidze and Rasul Rza, Irakli Abashidze and Samad Vurgun and our contemporaries are invaluable and are also significant sources for the promotion of our friendship. The son of the late Samad Vurgun, Yusif Samedoglu is also in our delegation today. He is a member of our parliament and the chairman of the Commission on International and Interparliamentary Relations.

All this are wonderful pages of our common history. Today we are writing the history. My friendship with Eduard Shevardnadze has a 30 - year or even a longer history. I clarify it by saying 30 years. Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia and I in Azerbaijan are engaged in the resolution of significant issues. In 1969 I was elected head of Azerbaijan and in 1972 Eduard Shevardnadze was elected the same in Georgia. We established very sincere friendship and cooperation.

I highly appreciate the historical past. But at the same time, I consider that a period when Heydar Aliyev and Eduard Shevardnadze were heads of Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Georgian-Azerbaijani relations had their brightest period. Then fate brought us both to Moscow. As I was ahead of Eduard Shevardnadze in the Caucasus, I went to Moscow before him. In late 1982, I went to Moscow. In the middle of 1985, Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Moscow. There we cooperated mutually a few years. I think that the main feature of our work consisted in the fact that we always were loyal to our peoples, nations, country, and remained faithful till the end.

Then the changes in our life occurred simultaneously. In late 1987, I resigned in Moscow. A few years later, in 1991 Shevardnadze resigned.

Indeed, after me for some reason he lingered a bit. Therefore, I let him know that he should not linger. Finally, in late 1991 Eduard Shevardnadze once again came to power in Georgia.

Eduard Shevardnadze: It was agreed by us previously.

Heydar Aliyev: This time, he was ahead of me. Then I was told that I also have to come. But I did not come. Finally, in 1992 I had to come and thus, Eduard Shevardnadze became the head of Georgia, and Heydar Aliyev the head of Azerbaijan. This is probably a rare event in history. But our way of life and the fate are very similar and they are closely related.

I can say that in the Soviet Union there is no any republic, where the head left his post many years ago and then came back to power in another capacity. This indicates that we served our people faithfully in the time and they demand us for the second time.

For example, could our former colleague, Gorbachev again become the governor of Stavropol? No, he cannot. Or can Ligachev become the governor of Tomsk? He cannot either. That is what differs us from them.

We should be eternally grateful to our people. Not because of the fact that we once more came to power. But because of the fact that during the period of heavy processes, people have not forgotten us, needed us and invited us to lead the country. Taking up your time, the purpose of my story is to once again emphasize the great contribution of Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia and to mention his respect among the people.

I told you about myself just because to let you know that I was together with Eduard Shevardnadze. If I did not say that the picture would not be quite clear. Despite the fact that in the past we had great achievements, the current tasks we face are much more complicated than those and at the same time are higher. I am sure that Eduard Shevardnadze as the Georgian leader, as President of Georgia, as in the past days will fulfill his duty and after a difficult phase will lead Georgia, the Georgian people to a bright future. Therefore, a new stage of the Georgian-Azerbaijani relations is very important and responsible to us. I am aware of this responsibility, my friend. Accepting the invitation of Eduard Shevardnadze I came to you, to visit you. We are all aware of this responsibility and with great pleasure today we signed very important documents between the two countries that have a great future.

My dear brothers and sisters, you can be sure the Azerbaijani people are very loyal to friendship. I am personally one of these persons. I assure you that I shall do my best for the development of friendly and fraternal relations between Georgia and Azerbaijan in future. Eduard Shevardnadze perfectly described the documents which we signed today. I fully agree with him. The Kura River has always flowed through Georgia. But its source begins from Turkey. The Kura will continue to flow into the Caspian Sea. The Azerbaijani oil will always flow to Georgia through the pipeline and from there to the Black Sea.

Please raise your glasses to the people of Georgia, to the free, independent and democratic Georgia, to Eduard Shevardnadze, a very valuable leader and a great son of the Georgian people, to the chairman of the Georgian parliament and other leaders of Georgia present here, to eternal friendship of the Georgian and Azerbaijani people . Thank you.