From the conversation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev ‎with the Delegation of Russia, led by the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of ‎Russia Grigoriy Berdennikov - January 17, 2000‎

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Grigoriy, distinguished Guests, You are welcome to Azerbaijan. I'm very glad to meet you, undoubtedly it will give us an opportunity to exchange views and to discuss some questions concerning the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, and other questions as well.

Grigoriy Berdennikov: Mr. Heydar Aliyev, thank You very much, first of all for the time You have devoted to us. We know that you are busy and certainly, we are very grateful to You.

We have arrived here to exchange views with You on the forthcoming meeting in Moscow, which will take place on the 24th and 25th of January. We hope that it will give an incentive both to the development of the relations between our countries and to the solution of other important problems like regional problems. Thank You for the attention.

Heydar Aliyev: I would like to begin with the fact that you were in Armenia, and, by the way, for a long time.

Grigoriy Berdennikov: Less than a day.

Heydar Aliyev: But the fact that you arrived in Azerbaijan for a very brief time naturally it creates a certain opinion and evokes jealousy.

First of all about the forthcoming meeting in Moscow with Kocharyan, as I was reported. We arranged with President of Armenia to meet at the meeting of CIS. I was reported that there is also such an intention to have the muting of three presidents, that is Kocharyan, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and me. I have agreed. And as I was informed, your arrival is mainly connected with the preparation to this meeting. If only for this, then I have already given my consent. If there is a need, we can discuss a number of other questions.

At the same time there are questions which worry us greatly. The mass media doesn't stop endless and quite baseless accusations Azerbaijan because of the events in the Northern Caucasus. Sometimes Azerbaijan even is slandered as if conducts an anti Russian policy and so on.

Of course, it worries us and causes discontent not only in the government, but in the public, too. Because it is not true. I have just been reported about the information of "Interfax", as if an organization has been founded here and so on, you can also have a look at it. There is a constant flow of such information. But they all are fibs. We repeatedly said that you may come and see, there isn't anything like that.

However, evidently, it is beneficial for someone to aggravate the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia. We are against it, we refuse it and we condemn such a policy, as we have always supported and we shall support the policy of strengthening the relations between Russia and Azerbaijan in all the spheres, and if someone concocts, or if something seems true to somebody and gives it for truth, then it is published in newspapers, and naturally it creates a definite public opinion, then there arise such questions - Who needs it? or Who is it beneficial for? We don't want it. Evidently, it is necessary to exchange views on this question as well.

Once we had to issue the official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when the press service of the Russian troops in the Northern Caucasus disseminated information which worried us. But then, ITAR-TASS and the Ministry of Defence announced that it was done by separate people. But why do separate people do that?

We have spoken about it, and by the way, it was mentioned in the official statement of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs that we have been suffering from separatism and violation of our territorial integrity for 12 years. But some people even think that it is possible not to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Even in the UNO there was such a project about the Azerbaijani- Armenian conflict, but to my great regret this item is missed in the text represented by CSCE. While taking such decisions in the previous years it was fixed in the document and all supported us. But this time, to my regret, some countries did not vote, and some even voted against us. I don't know what about Russia.

Vilayat Guliyev: Russia didn't vote.

Heydar Aliyev: But why? Today we vote everywhere, and we repeatedly spoke in support of the territorial integrity of all the countries, of Russia at the same time. We have always been and we against terrorism, as it is a great danger both for Russia and for us, too. We are also against the Islamic fundamentalism, and we spoke about it, too. Perhaps, the Islamic fundamentalism is not so dangerous for Russia, as it is for Azerbaijan, as the number of people practicing Islam in Russia is not so big in comparison with its total population. But the absolute majority of our population practice Islam. But, we are for building of a legal, democratic and secular state. Consequently, we can't support Islamic state or Islamic fundamentalism. By the way, we openly told to the representatives of many countries that we don't interfere into their internal affairs. And what regime they have, it is their own affair, so let them not interfere into our internal affairs, too. We are a secular state.

Russia has its clear position in all questions, including in the events in the Northern Caucasus and in the fight against terrorism. Then why do they create such an imagination about Azerbaijan? It's very strange; we can exchange views on these questions as well.

And what concerns the Naghorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, you know, we have declared it not once, and I want to repeat t again that we are for peaceful solution of the conflict. During our meeting with president Kocharyan we discussed some variants and we both know that mutual compromises are necessary. And we have conducted the negotiations in this spirit, we are ready to keep the same spirit today and in future, too. In one word, our position in this question is clear.

By the way, in my meeting with Vladimir Putin, when he was prime minister in Kiev, I told him about it. I also told him about it on the phone in the beginning of January. It's clear that Russia as a co-chair of the Minsk Group of CSCE has to take an active part in this process. Our position in the questions, which are the topic of our conversation, is like this, as you see.

Grigoriy Berdennikov: On my own part, I want to say that we have always been and are for developing friendly, equitable relations with Azerbaijan, based on cooperation, on the recognition of the territorial integrity of the parties and on non-interference into the internal affairs of each other. We have not any problems in these issues.

And what concerns the press, you know that we don't control it. It is independent. And if something crosses all the boundaries, then we try to correct it. As a matter of fact, the same happened with the information made by them. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement, and it was corrected. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to prevent entirely such things.

Nevertheless, we shall try to avoid such things.

We also support the territorial integrity of each state. But what concerns the fact that we did not vote, then evidently, we couldn't do otherwise, because we try to stay a mediator in this conflict and to take an unbiased position. Today we may exchange views on these questions more comprehensively.

We welcome your dialog with the President of Armenia. We think that it is the best way to settle the conflict around the table of negotiations than in the battlefield. We hope that this dialog will produce positive results soon. What concerns us, we are ready to assist to get such a result.

We highly appreciate the fact that You are for Russia's active participation in the solution of the conflict. Let me notice that we are interested in the solution of the conflict, but not in its freezing as in other conflicts. And if our efforts bring you any use, then we shall be satisfied. We hope that your meeting in Moscow will be a step in the right direction, and we are grateful to you for your consent to this meeting.

Heydar Aliyev: All right. Now, I would like to thank the press and continue our talk.

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