Statement of Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, at the joint press conference with Ion Iliescu, President of Romania, after the signature of the interstate and intergovernment documents between Azerbaijan and Romania - Presidential Palace, March 27, 1996

Mr. President! Dear Romanian guests! Ladies and gentlemen!

I congratulate you on the signature ofthe documents. These documents will become a good basis for the further development of friendship and cooperation between Azerbaijan and Romania.

During my official visit to Romania last June at the invitation of President Iliescu we discussed a number of issues and signed some interstate and intergovernment documents.Today the official visit of Mr. Ion Iliescu to Azerbaijan has begun. We negotiated, discussed a number of issues in detail and signed very important interstate and intergovernment documents while ago. The treaty on friendship and cooperation signed by me and the Romanian President is of great historical importance. This is the first document of its type between Romania and Azerbaijan. It lays the foundation for the further development of friendly relations and cooperation in all fields between our nations.

The documents signed by the ministers are also significant because they concretize and develop the treaty signed by the presidents. Thus, with the signature of the treaty, a good legal basis was laid in the mutual relations between Romania and Azerbaijan. This is the result of our cooperation up to now. It is also a proof of independence, sovereignty and national freedom both for Romania and Azerbaijan. It is a good foundation for the further development of relations between our countries.

It is of great importance especially for the independent Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991 and has covered complicated road for strengthening and development of independence in the recent years. This road was complicated because of the external military aggression, political processes and difficulties in the economy and social life. Therefore, it is important for us to establish strong and cordial friendly relations with other countries; every step of such kind is a good proof of independence and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.

In connection with it, we pay great attention to our relations with Romania. This event in Baku is an important stage in the history of the mutual relations between our countries.

Mr. President, dear guests, I can assure you that we`ll make efforts to ensure the realization of all the agreements and the signed contracts. We take into consideration that these documents establish an appropriate ground and legal basis for the development of our cooperation. Our cooperation must be multi-planned and cover many fields. For such a development of our cooperation we`ll do our best in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan highly appreciates its independence and national freedom. Thus, each step for strengthening them is of special importance for us. We are creating a legal, democratic, civil country and society, and doing our best to raise Azerbaijan to the level of the developed and democratic countries. Economic reforms are conducted, the state property is privatized and the principles of market economy are established in all the fields. Azerbaijan is open for cooperation with all the countries. We take measures for the development of economy, improvement of life level of the population and for ensuring the flow of foreign investments to our country.

Azerbaijan is rich in natural resources; it has great economic, industrial, intellectual potentials. But we must cooperate with other countries and the international community to use this potential in the period of transition; we need also foreign investments. We do our best for it and we consider it to be a strategic line of our development in the fields of economy, state building, and socio-political life.

But Azerbaijan faces a lot of difficulties in the realization of this large-scale program. The biggest difficulty is that we are obliged to be in the state of war. You know that Armenia began military operations against Azerbaijan eight years ago with the purpose of annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh. That caused a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There have been military operations, much blood, victims, and our republic has suffered great material and moral damage. The situation in Azerbaijan is grave because of objective and subjective reasons, because 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories have been occupied by the Armenian armed forces. More than one million our citizens have been compelled to leave the occupied lands. They live in different parts of Azerbaijan in hard conditions; mostly in tents. Those people have lost everything and their relatives.

Despite all these losses, great moral and material damages, we support the peaceful solution of the conflict; we have always been against any war, military aggression, separatism and terrorism in all the parts of the world.

Azerbaijan is for peace. We try to solve the conflict peacefully by using the opportunities of the international organizations, especially of the Minsk Group of the OSCE and the member states of this organization as the USA, Russia, Turkey.

With this purpose we reached an agreement in May 1994 and signed the ceasefire agreement. For nearly two years there has been no military operations, no blood. We are in the state of neither peace, nor war. It is important that both Azerbaijan and Armenia maintain the ceasefire without any foreign assistance, peacekeeping forces. It proves that we are able to achieve peace, remove the hostility and the confrontation which emerged eight years ago. That`s why we strive to reach full peace.

Having a constructive position we have submitted our proposals by making some compromises. I declare that we are loyal to the ceasefire regime and Azerbaijan will never restart military operations. We`ll try to maintain the ceasefire regime till a complete peace treaty is signed.

At the same time, we cannot agree with the current situation - the occupation of our territories. Thus, we strive to sign a lasting peace treaty. In connection with it we propose our conditions and these conditions suit the norms of the international law. They ensure the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by all the countries as an important principle of the norms of the international law, withdrawal of the troops from the occupied lands, return of the refugees home, establishment of lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to achieve full peace. We also take into consideration the demands of the Armenian side and we are ready to grant Nagorno-Karabakh an autonomy within our borders, to guarantee the security of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. We propose a lasting peace on the basis of these principles. These principles suit the norms of the international law and the interests of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. These are fair principles.

I hope that the negotiations between the Azerbaijani and Armenian representatives in Moscow with the mediation of the Minsk Group of the OSCE and the efforts of the US President Mr. Bill Clinton and the Russian President Mr. Boris Yeltsin will produce positive results and achieve peace. We want it and are firm our position.

In its policy Azerbaijan supports mutually beneficial bilateral and mutual cooperation with all the countries for peace and security in our planet. We take an active part in the activities of all the international organizations, maintain the position of good neighborhood, support the peaceful solution of all disputed issues and conflicts, are against the use of force for the solution of such problems among the countries, and we think that they must be solved through negotiations and on the basis of equality. No one in the world must make others accept its principles or will by force. No country should violate the rights and interests of other countries. Taking it into consideration, we rely on these principles and cooperate with the CIS, with the UN, the OSCE and other international organizations.

The cooperation, the current relations and the signed documents between our countries are a convincing proof for such a position of Azerbaijan and Romania. Mr. President, I want to assure you, the Romanian guests and also all the people here that we`ll remain devoted to these principles in our practical activities and in the international relations. Thank you for the attention.

Question: Mr. Iliescu, after you left Armenia the Snark agency informed that you had spoken of the possibility of the recognition of "the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh" by Romania. Can you comment on it?

I. Iliescu: I don`t know how it has been commented, but I had not said it. I was asked about it and I answered that life would show it. The political practice will show the future of Nagorno-Karabakh. Now the issue is presented quite differently; I said that we follow attentively the efforts taken for the peaceful solution of the conflict according to the principles of international relations between the independent states. I haven`t said anything like that.

Question: Mr. Iliescu, on which principles can the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be solved in your opinion?

I. Iliescu: On the basis of the principles stated by Mr. Aliyev, on the principles of independence and sovereignty of the neighboring countries.

Question: Mr. Aliyev, recently the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has proposed a special summit of the CIS to discuss the decision of the Russian Duma on the abolition of the Belovezhsk agreement. What do you think of this idea?

H. Aliyev: I haven`t heard about it. You know, such questions aren`t replied via press. If there is such an initiative and this is declared officially then I shall disclose my opinion.

Question: How can Romania participate in the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue? Which role can Romania play in this process?

I. Iliescu: The opportunities of Romania are few. We can only support the initiatives of the international organizations and other states for the peace process. We completely agree with the principles declared by President Aliyev. The basis of these principles is the peaceful solution of the issue. It is clear that the problem cannot be solved by using military force.

Question: Romania and Azerbaijan have similar problems. I mean the problem of Transylvania. In connection with it we`d like to learn your opinion on separatism and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

I. Iliescu: Ithink that Transylvania is an ancient part of Romania, not Hungary. It ias the land of our forefathers. There existed the state of Dacia, the state of our forefathers even before the birth of the Roman Empire. The political center of Dacia was in Transylvania. Magyars arrived in Europe just a thousand years ago. But our ancestors lived there for thousands years. During the occupation of Transylvania by Austria and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire the Romanians always formed the majority of the province and the Magyars were in minority.

After the World War One taking into account the principle of self-determination the majority of Transylvania that were Romanians decided to join Romania. It happened in 1918. In 1940 according to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia, the Romanian lands, and by the order of Hitler and Mussolini half of Transylvania was given to Hungary. After the World War Two, Transylvania was incorporated into Romania again. Magyars also live there. But they form minority. The population of Romania is 23 million; 1700,000 of them are Magyars. There are more than 9 million people in Transylvania. Thus, according to all indicators Magyars form the minority- they form only 7 percents of the Romanian population. However, they are citizens of Romania and enjoy all equal civil and political rights. They are represented in the Romanian parliament and local administrative organs. They have their own schools. They can never raise the enclave issue there.

You can not find any more national state in any part of the world, including Europe and the Caucasus. Because there is the issue of the human rights and democracy, each state must observe them. No debates on national minority are led in some countries. For example, in France there is only a conception of citizenship. Whether a person is an Arab or has come from Senegal, he is a citizen of France. It is written in his passport like that. Other historical conditions have emerged in other European countries, thus, they lead policy on the rights of national minorities. There are complicated problems in the international relations in your region, too. Each country has its own historical experience.

We are against separatism and discrimination because it is a big tragedy. The people who used to live together and struggled against invaders together for centuries cannot coexist now. I think that only democratic development of each country will allow to normalize the humanist relations among the peoples. In our country there are also extremists, separatists and supporters of ethnic cleansing, division of the nation into Romanians and Magyars and discrimination. But they can never reach their goals. There are thousands mixed marriages in our country. Which nationality do their children belong to? Possibly, you have the similar issues.

H. Aliyev: Mr. President, I want you to know that nearly 50-60 thousand Armenian women live in Baku. Their husbands are Azerbaijanis.

I. Iliescu: Briefly, life will teach us to live in conditions of normal relations.

Questions: Mr. Iliescu, when will the project on the transportation corridor between Romania and Azerbaijan to link the Black Sea and the Caspian regions be realized?

I. Iliescu: We have permanent maritime communcations with Turkey. We negotiated in Tbilisi and Baku on the prolongation of the line from Samsun and Trabzon till the Georgian shores. It is possible to reach the Black Sea by railroad from Azerbaijan to Georgia. You have such an experience with Turkmenistan. Thus, it is also possible to prolong this line via the Caspian Sea. We agreed to prolong the transport lines till Poti and Batumi by the end of this year.

Question: My question is addressed to both Presidents. Will Azerbaijan and Romania cooperate in the field of oil industry; will it be limited only with transportation of oil?

I. Iliescu: There is an experience of cooperation in the oil industry and production of equipment between our countries. President Aliyev spoke about it. But our cooperation must be built on new grounds now taking into consideration the new political realities. We must update this cooperation on the basis of the market economy.

H. Aliyev: I completely agree with Mr. Iliescu. We have great experience in cooperation in the oil sector. But more opportunities have appeared now and we`ll try to use them.

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijani - Romanian relations

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - Europe