From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the Director of the World Bank in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia Judy O`Connor and other representatives of this organization - Presidential Palace, July 8, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: You are welcome to Azerbaijan! We think that our relations with the World Bank are very important. And our cooperation is also very useful for Azerbaijan. Naturally, we shall continue our cooperation in future, too. So therefore, your visit is very important for us.

Our prime minister reported that you met the ministers and others for several times. That`s very good. You discussed all the questions concerning you. Perhaps, you would briefly inform me, too.

Judy O`Connor: Of course I will. Mr. President, let me first to convey to You greetings and the best wishes of the President of the World Bank Mr. Wolfenson, and say that I`m very glad to visit Azerbaijan again. Your opinion about the importance of expanding the relations and cooperation between Azerbaijan and the World Bank is very pleasant. As a member of the World Bank, and as one of the owners of this international financial organization Azerbaijan possesses the right of using the best expertise, advice and recommendations of the World Bank. Azerbaijan deserves it.

Before discussing the questions connecting with our cooperation I want to congratulate You on the admission of your country to the membership of the Council of Europe, on behalf of the World Bank.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you!

Judy O`Connor: I think it again confirms the importance of the geographical position of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is an important country situated between the East and the West.

Using the chance I want to congratulate You with the fact that the popular international agency "Peech" which defines the level of credits gave Azerbaijan the highest grade - "B+", among the countries of CIS, including Russia, too. That means that Azerbaijan with its economic activities is ahead of other countries in getting credits.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you! I did not know it. Very good news.

Judy O`Connor: You are right. It again shows that the macroeconomic reforms implemented for determining the rate of currency exchange, monetary and credit policy in Azerbaijan are highly estimated. The most important sign of it is the estimation given to you. It is a sign and advice to the international businessmen, financial structures and foreigners to invest in Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev: Very good! Is it our achievement, or is it the success of the policy pursued together with you?

Judy O"Connor: You are quite right. The report of "Peech" says that Azerbaijan has reached this high level mostly itself. At the same time it says that you have observed the recommendations of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Whether it is intentionally, or accidentally, but my name, and the merits of the people who worked with me, or before me have been mentioned there. And I accept this estimation.

Heydar Aliyev: My congratulations.

Judy O`Connor: Thank You! The incomes of Azerbaijan from oil in the recent years and months have exceeded the expected. That is why the report also disclosed the anxiety connected with such a big sum of unexpected incomes from oil. I`m sure that You and your colleagues are also concerned with such a danger in future.

Heydar Aliyev: You can review the situation, because the price of oil has risen again. We want it be so all the time. However, some countries are against the high oil prices. What concerns the anxiety, please, don`t worry! We realize our responsibility well enough. Anyhow, not a single cent of that income will be spent in vain.

Judy O`Connor: In conclusion, I would like to say that your recent direct contacts with your Armenian colleague Kocharyan inspire us greatly. I think it is my duty to say it to You. I hope that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be settled peacefully.

Heydar Aliyev: We are trying to do it.

Judy O`Connor: I want to note the fact one more that on the initiative of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of CSCE there was held a meeting of donors with the participation of the international financial structures, the World Bank, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the UNO and other organizations. The main purpose of the meeting was to contribute to the removal of destructions in liberated territories and on the reconstruction and accommodation of the people after the resolution of the conflict.

I want You to know that the World Bank participates directly in these processes. We are waiting for the invitation from the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia and from the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, too. We want to send there a mission for evaluating the reconstruction and restoration work to be implemented in this region. Therefore, it is necessary to define all needs. We hope to take direct participations in this work.

Mr. President, I`m here because of one administrative reason, too. Meeting you and with members of your government I shared a moment which I regret. The fact is that Tevfig Yaprak, representative of the World Bank in Azerbaijan within the last 3 years (formerly he represented the International Monetary Fund in your country) has already completed his term of office here, and on Monday he is leaving for Georgia. He is going to be the permanent representative of the World Bank there.

Heydar Aliyev: I`m very sorry, too. I thank Tevfig Yaprak for his service within 5 years of working here. However, his leave depends on you. If it depended on us, we would leave him here. When you adopt such a decision, we just have to obey it. I have got one more question - I don`t know how much you appreciate your cooperation with Georgia, but anyway Tevfig Yaprak gained good experience within these 5 years. And I think that you send him to Georgia so that he could apply his experience gained here. Azerbaijan and Georgia are very friendly countries. And sometimes a friend sacrifices for the sake of friend. We appreciate it like this.

Judy O`Connor: Thank You very much, Mr. President.

Tevfig Yaprak: Mr. President, let me express my gratitude. Last 5 years were the happiest in my professional activity as financier. I want to thank You for the help rendered during this period.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you! I express my gratitude to you for the information. Thank you for the greetings you conveyed from President of the World Bank Mr. Wolfenson. Please, convey my best regards to Mr. Wolfenson.

Approximately a year ago, we met in Antalya. Then I was having a rest after the surgical operation in the USA. And his visit to Azerbaijan was arranged in advance. But before visiting Azerbaijan he came to Antalya. We had a thorough conversation with him. Then, he left for Baku. I shall never forget that. Convey him my best regards and tribute. I`m very glad for the high grade given to us and for our cooperation with you through the credit agency - "Peech". And thank you, too. Though we are not satisfied with our work, though we speak about the defficiences in our work we have success, too, otherwise we have not got such a high estimation.

Anyway, you know that Azerbaijan is experiencing difficulties now among the countries of CIS, because 20% of our territory has been occupied by the Armenian armed forces. More than one million of our citizens have been driven away from the occupied territories and live in tents now. Most of them are jobless. Recently, to my regret, the international humanitarian organizations have reduced their help, too. But in spite of this fact, we conduct reforms; we implement into life the principles of the market economy; we develop our economy, and as you know we have won the 1st place among the CIS countries.

Of course, we are not boasting. It must give an incentive to our activition. We highly appreciate our cooperation with the World Bank, with the International Monetary Fund. Consequently, the economic policy carried out by us, the implementation of the economic reforms and other similar measures produce their yields and positive results. It again convinces us fact that only in this way we can move forward.

That`s why I highly appreciate our cooperation with you. Now, I think we should discuss our future cooperation.

I was reported that you were going to Bilasuvar tomorrow, to the town where refugees live. So, I want to thank you in advance, because some people arriving in our country visit only Baku, and they say that it is a beautiful city, that considerable changes have taken here recently, and they think that everything is ok in the country, too.

Now, social and political stability has been completely ensured in Azerbaijan. Today is the weekend, but we are working. However, half of the people of Baku are at the beach now. And it means that their life has improved. A hungry one would not go to the beach, he would try to earn for food.

But, tomorrow when you see the people living in tents in such hot weather, you will feel what a great damage did the Armenian military aggression to our country and the fact is that this question has not yet been solved.

As you noted, my meetings with the president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan will continue in future, too, and that talks will promote the solution of the question.

I also appreciate the activity of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. We are very satisfied with the fact that they held a meeting with the representatives of the biggest finance centers of the world in Geneva, and they discussed the questions concerning of the restoration works, to be implemented after reaching the peace. It also gladdens us.

You know that last 3 days I was on a visit to Austria. And the foreign minister of Austria is the chair of CSCE now. Do you know her?

Judy O`Connor: No, I have never met her.

Heydar Aliyev: She is also a beautiful woman. On the 17th of July she will arrive in Baku and we are waiting for her. First, she will visit Armenia, then Azerbaijan. Being in Austria I had detailed talks with her. Thus, we are trying to use all the means to reach the solution of the problem.

Thank you for the congratulation on the event, that the Parliamentary Assembly admitted us the Council of Europe. It`s also a sign of our development on the base of the European and universal valuable.

So, we are going to continue our cooperation with you in future, too. Perhaps, you will appoint a good man to the post of Tevfig Yaprak.

Judy O`Connor: Do you mean that the new person must exactly be a man?

Heydar Aliyev: If it will be a woman like you, that`s even better. But let it be a person either better than Tevfig Yaprak, or at least equal to him.

Judy O`Connor: It will be difficult to find someone better than Tevfig Yaprak. But we shall try to find a person equal to him.

Mr. President, I would like to share with You my thoughts about something else. I hope You will not be disappointed hearing them.

Heydar Aliyev: I`ll listen to you.