President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev staying in Paris for an official visit at the invitation of President of French Republic Jacques Chirac, arrived on January 23 at the Institute for International Relations, AzerTAj correspondent reports.

The Head of our State was sincerely welcomed by Rector of the Institute Do Vilpen and other persons.

President Ilham Aliyev familiarized with this authoritative educational establishment and signed the guest book.

The meeting was attended by renowned French political and public figures, high-ranking officials, diplomats and media representatives.

Opening the meeting, Mr. Do Vilpen introduced President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to the participants, and told of the great progress Azerbaijan had achieved for the last decade in economic sphere describing 10% growth in GDP as very positive result. “Even the leader of the People’s Republic of China to visit France one of these days, can envy Azerbaijan in this relation.”

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev addressed the meeting participants.

The Head of State said: “My first after presidential elections visit to France will become a special stage of the relationship between our two countries. In 1991, when Azerbaijan gained its independence, there was economic recession, critical situation in the country. Besides, Azerbaijan was making war against Armenia that extremely complicated the situation. Only in 1993, when Heydar Aliyev returned to power at the urgent request of the people, the recession was overcome, and in 1996, economic revival began. For the time being, Azerbaijan is a leader among CIS countries in foreign investments per capita. All necessary conditions have been created in the country for foreign investors. Today, safety for foreign investments is guaranteed in Azerbaijan.“

Stressing the progress achieved in development of Caspian oil resources, the Head of State also mentioned the rapid advancement in the sphere of ensuring human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan. “Rights and freedoms of all citizens irrespective of their linguistic, religious or ethnic belongings have been insured in the country”, he said.

Pointing out the successive increase in GDP for the last 7 years, and powerful impetus given by oil revenues to development of economy in Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev stressed nevertheless, the extremely hard living conditions of over one million refugees from Armenian military aggression against the country. He noted that Azerbaijan situated in very complicated geo-political region wants reestablishment of stability in the South Caucasus. “Socio-political stability is extremely important factor for development of economy”, he said.

Pointing to the good relations Azerbaijan maintains with neighboring Georgia and Russia, President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that occupation by Armenian armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh region and other adjacent territories of Azerbaijan and as a result, over one million refugees and IDPs from the conflict, creates explosive situation both in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus as a whole.

The President said: “Azerbaijan wants intensification of France’s activity as a Minsk Group co-chair. Armenia must withdraw from the occupied territories and observe norms of the international law. Azerbaijan’s position is fair. We respect territorial integrity of all states and demand restoration of territorial integrity of our country. To release Azerbaijani lands from the occupation, France, Russia and USA as the Minsk Group co-chairs must put pressure on Armenia, the international community must to obtain justice and put an end to double standards. I am confident that President Jacques Chirac would too intensify his efforts for resolution of the problem.

Head of the Azerbaijani state stressed the necessity of continuation of talks in this field, underlining that when in the early XIX century the Armenians were removed Karabakh they were kindly greeted by Azerbaijanis, but the territorial claims of the Armenians led to separatism and occupation by the Armenians of the Azerbaijani lands. As the economy of Azerbaijan develops, it becomes the strongest state in the region, he emphasized. This encourages us for resolution of the existent problem.

President Ilham Aliyev called on the French businessmen to put more investment in Azerbaijan and said that there both economic and cultural links between the countries and they need to be all-round developed. There are other opportunities in this field, which necessitate mutual visits and other important measures.

President of Azerbaijan said that Azerbaijan as a Council of Europe member, attaches great importance to integration to Europe. Government of Azerbaijan will undertake certain measures in the social sphere, in the field of poverty reduction and opening new working places in the coming 5 years. There is no alternative to this policy pointed by the nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev and this policy will be continues in the years ahead.

Head of the Azerbaijani state expressed a hope that the French-Azerbaijani relations would further develop and there would be created every condition for the businessmen.

Then, President Ilham Aliyev responded to the questions of the meeting participants.

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