Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting of the commission to draft a new Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan - October 3, 1995

Dear members of the commission!

Dear participants of the meeting of the commission!

Today we gather at the regular meeting of the committee, organized in connection with the preparation of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Our commission is under way, and since the beginning of its operation   it has done productive work. The first meeting of the Committee was held on June 5th. Then we talked about the challenges of the Commission. The main task is to prepare the new Constitution and the Election Law regarding the parliamentary elections in the country.

In connection with the termination of the Azerbaijani parliament, we have come to the unanimous agreement that first we need to begin to prepare a draft law on elections to the Parliament, to accept it and assign a date for elections, and hold parliamentary elections on time. This was the beginning of the commission. Preparation of this law in the constitutional commission is quite natural and appropriate to the purpose since adopted Election Law is the constitutional law.

Of course, if prior to this we had prepared and adopted a new draft Constitution of Azerbaijan, then the law could have been adopted on the basis of the Constitution. But due to the fact that the new constitution was not and the election law is the the constitutional law, we are primarily engaged in preparing a draft law on elections.

A series of meetings of the commission was held. Commission's Working Group has worked productively and after several discussions, a draft Law on Elections was submitted to the Parliament of Azerbaijan. The parliament discussed the draft law, adopted it and assigned the date for the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. The Election Day to the first Parliament of independent Azerbaijan Republic was arranged. So the day is November 12. Nowadays, intensive preparations for the elections, that is, the process has started and is being implemented. 

I think that one of the first successful steps in our Constitutional Commission is to adopt such a law. Today, when it passed the law, and the international community, international organizations carried out some analysis, and took it public discussion of our republic, we can say with full determination, we first passed the law - the Law on Elections, is entirely consistent with democratic principles, and puts it in life.

Following the adoption of the law it has been analyzed in detail and discussed. However, some opposition circles and the press try to claim that this law is supposedly undemocratic. Well, that's understandable. Because the opposition forces or the dissatisfied group has to say something. But this can not affect the significance of the law, its content and place it occupies in the society. Because this law was adopted by our society as a democratic law. The public accepts it and international organizations, in particular, organizations involved in democratic issues in the international arena, the institutions - all of them expressed their view that this law is completely democratic. Anyway, we have not received any negative feedback on this law from these institutions. Therefore, I believe that adoption of this law is not only a successful step of the Constitutional Commission, but also it is the indication of restoration and development of democratic processes in the indepenedent Republic of Azerbaijan. 

The election process is under way. According to the Central Election Commission, people have very strong desire to participate in the elections. 18 political parties appealed to the Central Election Commission to take part in them. These parties have received necessary documents for participation in elections and have started their activities. That is, there are no obstacles for political parties,which are registered, to participate in the elections. As we have noted, 18 political parties received the required documents from the Central Election Commission and began to participate in the electoral process.

As you know, there are 125 seats in the new Parliament. 25 of them are distributed on the basis of the principles of proportional, that is, with the participation of political parties. One-hundred seats consist of a single-member constituencies. Here, the MPs will be elected based on the majority voting principle. According to the Central Election Commission, 1,024 applications have already been received for the hundred seats. According to the chairman of the Central Election Commission, those who applied, received the necessary documents, favourable conditions were set up for their participation in the elections. Now the process is under way. They, in accordance with the Law on Elections, shall conduct the work necessary to collect signatures and present their papers. This process goes well, in a timely manner. I believe that the Central Election Commission is taking all measures in this area, creates the conditions for participation of each citizen in the election.

There are 39 days until elections. Hence, a certain period has passed. Much of the work is already done. I hope the coming days will be more productive; citizens, voters, and parties, willing to participate in elections will be active. And we can hold elections organized in democratic conditions.

Today, I once again want to say about it because, articles appear that are false, erroneous, and sometimes baseless, totally insulting. I have said repeatedly, I will say it again: favorable conditions will be set up for holding parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. Let no one doubt it. In any case, the authorities will create all conditions.

The Central Election Commission and constituencies operate freely, and citizen`s suffrage is guaranteed. I hope that citizens will actively participate in the elections and elections will be held. 
Even before the commencement of preparatory work for the elections and before the law we adopted, we told the world about our willingness to accept observers from international organizations and democratic institutions in different countries. And today, I reiterate that. Tremendous interest is attached to our elections, and some members have already come and watch the pre-election process. They are representatives of UN and OSCE. Representative of the Democratic Institute of US is established in our republic. They have already settled here, established their residence, liaise with the Central Election Commission, with the population and monitor the process. They did not express any concerns on irregularities of the elections. 

Information obtained from authorities notes that the world community, in particular, the public and news agencies of countries seeking to protect democratic principles, expressed feedback on the elections in Azerbaijan.

Yesterday the US President Mr. Bill Clinton phoned me.  We had a detailed phone conversation. During the conversation, first of all we had fruitful exchange of views on the situation, prospects and development of relations between the US and Azerbaijan. We also held detailed exchange of views on production and use of oil in the Caspian sector of Azerbaijan. This topic has taken a key place in our conversation. We also talked about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the present situation, the peaceful resolution, and exchanged views, on the use of new opportunities. Moreover, we exchanged views on democratic development, economic reforms, and application of democratic principles, and the transition to a market economy in Azerbaijan. 

I believe that our talk was very meaningful, informative and interesting. One important aspect is that the U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed his satisfaction with our work, conducted policy with regard to democratic development and implementation of economic reforms. He expressed his hope that Azerbaijan will develop in this direction in future and noted that the achievements of the republic in this area can be useful for the world community, in particular, for many other countries.

I repeat once again that our talk with Mr. Bill Clinton is of great importance. Once again I want to note that he expressed his satisfaction with the development of democracy and implementation of economic reforms.

Thus, we are moving toward democracy and elections are held on a democratic basis. Let no one doubt it. Now the task of the Constitutional Commission is to prepare and submit a draft constitution, then transfer it to public discussion. At previous meetings of the committee, we conducted an exchange of views on this issue. Once a bill on the election is made up and submitted to the Parlirment at a meeting of the Constitutional Commission, we commissioned a working group of the Commission to mobilize all its forces to draft a constitution. Since then, much work has been done. The working Group in conjunction with certain structures of the Presidential Office, the Supreme Council held a very productive work. Key documents were made up for discussion in the Constitutional Commission. I hope that today we will define ways to conduct our work in future.


It must be taken into account. We initially decided to submit a draft of a new constitution for public discussion. We must adopt a new constitution by popular vote, the referendum. Therefore, November 12 election must be simultaneously declared the day of the referendum. In this day the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic should be adopted.


We are running out of time, so at the latest, until October 12 - a month before the referendum, election day, we must saubmit a new draft constitution to public discussion. I hope we are able to do it. Since the work undertaken so far in the working group, Presidential Administration, Office of the High Council, as well as those associated with this work, the materials suggest the possibility to prepare the project for the meetings of the commission.

How should be the new constitution of Azerbaijan? At previous meetings, we talked about it. However, today there is a need to dwell on some issues. Firstly, I want to remind that the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan has a long history. The first Constitution of Azerbaijan was adopted in 1919. However, it was not a constitution, it was an act of independence. In 1919, the first Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan adopted the Act on State Independence.

Due to the fact that this act is constitutional in nature, we can take it as an introduction as the beginning of work on creation of the constitution.


As you know, in 1920, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was established in Azerbaijan.  This republic adopted the first Constitution of Azerbaijan in 1921. At that time there was no Soviet Union yet. Republics, established under the communist government, were independent. This constitution was in use with some changes until 1937. Despite the fact that in 1924, after the establishment of the Soviet Union, there was also adopted the Constitution, but the one adopted in 1921 was in force. But, of course, it was amended.


Following the adoption of the new Constitution of the Soviet Union in 1936, the new Constitution of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted in 1937.  It lasted until 1978. In 1977 the new Constitution of the Soviet Union was adopted and a year later, in April 1978, the new Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was adopted.                                                                                           

Until now, the Republic of Azerbaijan is operating under the constitution, adopted in 1978. During this time many changes, additions have been made to the constitution. Especially, it should be noted that, after Azerbaijan gained state independence on October 18, 1991, the Constitutional Act was adopted. Indeed, there were some misunderstandings. Remember how on August 30, 1991, the Parliament of Azerbaijan made a statement about independence. But apparently, the former head of the Azerbaijan Republic did not want independence for some reason. Because these acts could be implemented in time.

 After issuing such statement so much time passed and on October 18, the Constitutional Act on Independence was adopted. Despite the fact that the Soviet Union was disintegrating at that time, the former head of the Azerbaijan Republic, against the will of the Azerbaijani people, did not let the independence. Perhaps they hoped that the Soviet Union would further exist. You remember, perhaps, those processes, when, after signing the union treaty between the Slavic states - Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Soviet Union had almost collapsed. However, former Soviet President Gorbachev tried to convene the Congress of People's Deputies to discuss the matter. To do so, however, he could not achieve it. Finally he made a statement that he also agrees with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I think at that time some in Azerbaijan leadership, even hoped that the Soviet Union would exist. Because in March 1991, the Azerbaijani leadership held a referendum and the decision was made to save the Soviet Union. Apparently, they could not abandon this policy. Only this I can explain that after the August 30 declaration of independence only on October 18 Constitutional Act on independence was to pass through a referendum. This is natural, because in March 1991, there was held a referendum on preservation of the Soviet Union. If October 18 was adopted by the Constitutional Act, then a month later, on November 18, there could be held a referendum. Because the referendum could be held in a month. But somehow, this referendum was not postponed to November 18, not December 18 but on December 29, and this referendum was held. 

I remind you of this in order to once again emphasize the great gulf between the will of the people walking on the path of independence, and the people who lead this nation. I want to say that as far as our people aspired to independence, some groups did not want us to become an independent state. Some still live with old attitudes. They see freedom as a temporary thing. Therefore, I remind you the history of these processes.

 Despite all this, the Constitutional Act on State Independence, adopted on 18 October 1991, is a very important document. The document reflected a very valuable position on the independence of Azerbaijan and its nation-building as an independent state. 

So, I briefed about the history of the Azerbaijani Constitution, and now I want to talk about the work ahead. We create, we can say the first constitution of independent Azerbaijan Republic. Declaration of Independence, adopted in 1919 - if we accept it as a document of a constitutional nature – has not been a constitution. Constitution, adopted afterwards - in 1921, 1937 and 1978, of course, are the Constitution of the Soviet period. At that time the Republic of Azerbaijan was not an independent state and, of course, the communist ideology, the principles of Soviet authority were laid down in the constitution.

Now we adopt the first constitution of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani state. This is a very responsible and yet honorable task. And it is destined to us. And I hope that we, the present generation, can adequately fulfill this honorable task. The work done so far and prepared materials give reason to think that in the short term, after a series of discussions of the draft constitution, by the Commission we will submit it to our people and the public.

Our new constitution, no doubt, in the first place, should reflect the state independence of Azerbaijan, its permanence and the principles for the protection, preservation of national independence. Our new Constitution must reflect democratic principles, it should use all the achievements of world democracy, the experience of adavanced democratic constitutions of the states, and concentrate on the history of Azerbaijan Republic,and on principles that reflect national traditions. In short, we have announced, and I reiterate that we are building a democratic, constitutional, civil and secular country in Azerbaijan. The constitution should reflect the processes of a democratic, legal and civil nation-building, and all conditions and provisions to ensure this.

Democratic principles constitute a broad concept. On the one hand, they are the principles that ensure rights of people and citizens, while on the other hand they should be the principles that provide state-building, maintaining state-building process, the creation of the state, ensuring the protection of human rights in Azerbaijan as a nation, people and every citizen. One side of democracy gave birth to human rights, and rights of citizens, whereas the second one - ensured the existence, protection, preservation of state-building, independent state, as well as state authorities to protect and preserve rights of people.

I hope that the work done and experience gained enables us to formulate these issues from a legal point of view, so that they are reflected in our constitution.

I don`t intend to talk about other provisions of the constitution, because it is not necessary. I note only the basic principles. I hope that on this basis a draft of our constitution in the short term will be prepared and submitted in the short run.

Our Constitution should contain provisions that protect rights of the state in this difficult transitional period for Azerbaijan, as I have repeatedly pointed out, protecting rights of citizens and statehood. During these two years together with you we have repeatedly witnessed attempts to destroy the statehood of Azerbaijan.

I think yesterday's information released by the Ministry of National Security once again confirms that there are forces which have not yet abandoned their attempts to divide people and destroy the state. You've probably heard it. For the past two years, we have made the forces acting against our statehood to abandon their criminal actions, but unfortunately, some people still believe that they can do something by commiting crime.

As a result of operations conducted on October 1-2, the Ministry of National Security, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, identified other criminal conduct, and weapons, particularly to use in terrorist acts. It is all done not by a criminal, but bya former MP. And he is not alone, with his henchmen, those who send it (I hope that the investigation found), they seek to re-create the chaos in Azerbaijan, commit acts of terrorism and crimes against the state. The process of preparing crimes is already under way.

Laws, prepared by us for today and tomorrow, and, in particular, our fundamental law - the constitution should be such that they, on the one hand, protect rights of human, guarantee democracy, a freedom, political pluralism, freedom of press, speech, religion, language, and on the other hand, would assure the creation of institutions for governance and society in order to prevent such occurrences. And I hope that we will create such a constitution that it has provided the Republic of Azerbaijan not short, but long way to independence, ensure the creation of a democratic legal state, guarantee rights and freedoms of all its citizens.

As dinstructed by the Commission the Working Group has put forward several proposals on the draft constitution. Certain materials based on these proposals, were preapred in the Presidential Office and in the Parliament. I call it not a project, but materials. I hope the project will be structured on the basis of these materials and on behalf of the Working Group it will be presented to us. I was acquainted with these materials and I think that they can become the basis for project development in the short term. And so - I do not know whether there is a need to discuss it, or not - I think that if our working group in the short term, for two days, organize and present these materials, we will distribute this draft to members of the Commission, and on this basis we will be able to hold a discussion. This is my opinion. If there is another, let's discuss.

The Working Group is already working. This is not new. The working group prepared a draft law adopted by us and presented to the discussion of the commisiion. It works to this day. They made many suggestions, and to some extent they have been systematized. However, they are not available in a draft form. Therefore, today I summoned the commission .On behalf of the commission we should instruct the working group to present the project in the short run.
Any questions? None. Hence, there is no objection to give the working group additional two days. Most of the materials are  ready. The working group members have worked very productively. I think that they have prepared good materials. Let the working group organize materials for two days and prepare a draft. Today, it is October 3. In the evening of October 5, the project should be presented to the members of the commission. It is also possible that we get together on October 6. At this time, the commission members will have it. They will become familiar with it, work on it, and discuss it.

No objections? Then let's finish our current meeting. You submit the project to me on October 5 in the evening and I will distribute it to the members of the commission. On October 6, a regular meeting of the commission will be held. I have initially asked the commission members that once they get the project they should become acquainted with it and study carefully. At a meeting on the 6th, we will not listen to the report, but we will discuss the project and listen to those who have any suggestions and additions. Thank you.

Translated from "Azerbaijan" newspaper, October 4, 1995