Updated: 19-May-2004 NATO Speeches


19 May 2004

Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,
and Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

High resolution photos
Audio file of the speech .MP3/2186Kb

de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you, good afternoon to all of you. It's a great pleasure for the Council and for me, of course, to have received this afternoon His Excellency President Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

The President comes at a very important occasion because Azerbaijan as the second country ever... this afternoon the President has presented me, presented us, with the so-called IPAP document, the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which will be a very important basis for further fostering and developing the partnership between Azerbaijan and NATO. And it will give, of course, Azerbaijan and NATO the opportunity to discuss all the relevant aspects of defence reform, political reform and so on and so forth.

President Aliyev and I started with a brief bilateral meeting during which I have commended Azerbaijan and the President for Azerbaijan's active role in peacekeeping operations. You know, of course, that Azerbaijan is participating in Afghanistan, is present in KFOR, and although this is not a NATO operation, also has forces in Iraq.
So we have an excellent basis for co-operation. The President has now come here. I have been invited to come to Baku, so I hope the next time I'll be able to meet President Aliyev on behalf of NATO it will be in Baku.

We had an interesting... we heard an interesting statement of the President in the Council. Ambassadors reacted. We had a discussion and I'm sure, and I know that as far as the political problems in the region are concerned President Aliyev, and I hope, of course, also other presidents in the region will show the political leadership of ensuring and guaranteeing peace and stability in the region.

Thank you very much, and I think President Aliyev would like to speak to you now.

Aliyev: Thank you very much. First of all, I'd like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Secretary General and to the Council for this invitation. For me it's a big honour to be today here in the NATO Headquarters. And as Mr. Secretary General mentioned, today's a very significant day in the relations between NATO and Azerbaijan.

Ten years ago Azerbaijan joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It was May 1994, and today in May 2004 Azerbaijan is joining the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which is a very important milestone in our future movement so it's more close co-operation with NATO.

Azerbaijan has made its strategic choice ten years ago and now our integration into European... Euro-Atlantic structures, our close partnership and co-operation with NATO shows better than any other words how dedicated we are to this strategic choice. And I'm sure that the Individual Partnership Action Plan in the future will allow us to deepen our integration.

Azerbaijan is a true partner, reliable partner. We participate in NATO-led peacekeeping operations in various parts of the world, and we, I think, proved already that we're strongly committed to our partnership.

We had a very good meeting at the North Atlantic Council. Ambassadors also made very important statements and I also made a statement. I'm very glad to be here, and I'm sure that our next meetings in Baku, as Secretary General promised, will be also successful and I'm sure that every new meeting, every new step will bring Azerbaijan closer to NATO.

Thank you very much again for your hospitality.

Questions and answers

Q: Mr. President, did you discuss with Mr. Scheffer the Nagorno-Karabakh problem; and my second question, Mr. Scheffer, can you talk or explain us today's position of NATO about this conflict?

Aliyev: Of course, Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed during our meetings. It's always on the agenda, and I expressed Azerbaijan's position on the issue and our readiness to continue negotiations. And we are looking forward to finding such a resolution which will be based on the norms and principles of international law. Azerbaijan's position remains unchanged. Our territorial integrity must be restored.

And all this issue is discussed all the time when we have such meetings.

de Hoop Scheffer: You might know that before becoming Secretary General of NATO I had a different capacity as Chairman-in-Office at the OSCE, so although I do not want to pretend that I'm an insider in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I'm not completely unfamiliar with it, and I know that a lot will depend... we discussed that, indeed of the leadership of President Aliyev, the leadership of President Kocharian, their contacts, the contacts between the foreign ministers, to find a just solution for this conflict, which has gone on for much too long.

You know that the lead as far as the involvement of the international community is concerned is at the moment in the hands of the Minsk Group by the OSCE and I think that wherever the Minsk group can be of any assistance, I know that, because I know them, I know their activities, can in any way be of assistance to bring this problem, which should be solved now, closer to a solution, they will do so.

Thank you.

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