Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting of heads of the states of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Russia, and also heads of republics, territories and regions of Northern Caucasus - subjects of the Russian Federation.Kislovodsk, June 3, 1996

Dear heads of states, dear heads of republics of Northern Caucasus!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I welcome all of you and I express my deep satisfaction of this remarkable meeting. In my opinion, perhaps I will not be mistaken, if I say that it is the first meeting of representatives of all peoples, all states of the Caucasus for all history. It is very good initiative, especially important initiative now, and this initiative was set forth by the President of the Russian Federation, our dear friend, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin. I thank you, Boris Nikolayevich, for this initiative and I am sure that this meeting, the Declaration which we signed, and the exchange of opinions which we conducted here, certainly, will help strengthening of peace and stability in the Caucasus.

The Caucasus is a region which differs from many regions of globe on many properties. The Caucasus is characterized for exceptional beautiful nature, multinational structure, original traditions and customs of peoples living in the here. Many brilliant pages about a friendship and a brotherhood of these peoples were written in the history of the Caucasus. Lately the political map of the Caucasus has essentially changed. After collapse of the Soviet Union, the independent sovereign states - the Republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were founded. In the Northern Caucasus, in territory of the Russian Federation, the republics have received more rights and powers.

Perhaps, it will be fair if I say that the republics and peoples of the Northern Caucasus in the structure of former czarist empire and the Soviet Union had never enjoyed these rights, such independence and such powers. It is just the evidence of really original federal structure and the evidence of the democratization of the state system of Russia which is underway.

But at the same time, last years the Caucasus has faced tragic events and military conflicts. Today all Caucasus is covered with conflicts and it causes huge damage as a whole to the Caucasus, all peoples, brings disasters, sufferings and tragedy. And our challenge is to overcome this situation.

Unfortunately, these conflicts have begun even in days of existence of Soviet Union. The most chronic conflict is the one between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Mountainous Garabagh which began in 1988. I am sure and today with belief I am saying, that the heads of former Soviet Union had a full opportunity to prevent this conflict, this bloodshed and its development. They were short-sighted politicians, and some of them, in my opinion, to some extent promoted kindling of this conflict.

This conflict causes huge damage not only to Azerbaijan and Armenia but also to all the Caucasus. All conflicts, as a matter of fact, have taken its start just from this conflict on the Caucasus and on all the locality of the former Soviet Union. As a result of this conflict, Azerbaijan has strongly suffered. As it is known, 20 percent of territory of Azerbaijan were occupied by the Armenian armed units, more than one million citizens of Azerbaijan was violently expelled from the occupied lands and the majority of them live in tents, in the hardest conditions for four years. The occupied lands, unfortunately, are destroyed, plundered, and that made both great moral and material damage to Azerbaijan.

However, despite all this, we came to this idea that it was better to achieve the peace settlement of the question than to continue military actions. Two years ago we have reached the consent with the leadership of Armenia, the President of Armenia mister Ter Petrosyan and have signed the agreement on an armistice. And today this regime of an armistice is being kept and proceeds.

I consider it a very positive moment. And today our aspiration, our will, and desire to keep a regime of the armistice till the signing of the great political agreement has found its reflection in our Declaration as well. We want peace, we do not want a renewal of military actions. We want peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The destiny determined us to live side by side, in the neighborhood, and it is impossible to be enemy for long period, especially to be at enmity eternally. We want peace and we want peaceful settlement to the conflict. Our proposals were repeatedly declared on this question. For this purpose, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored, the refugees must return to their native lands, and native territories. And, naturally, under these conditions only we will grant the Mountainous Garabagh of the highest status of autonomy in the structure of the Republic of Azerbaijan which is available in modern international practice.

Today, I once again declare these conditions and also hope that we will achieve settlement of the conflict and establishment of peace with our further joint efforts.

But we are not only anxious for the destiny and destiny of our peoples, but also for all Caucasus. As I said above, all the Caucasus, unfortunately, is covered with conflicts. And all this, certainly, are the result of a separatism, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism as well. And you know, these conflicts had also started in the period of the Soviet Union. I think, all this happened, at the same time, as a result of a wrong national policy of the leaders of Communist Party of the Soviet Union, more truly, the leadership of Communist Party of Soviet Union and of the former Soviet Union.

Mistakes, made in those years and which led to these conflicts, are known and obvious. These mistakes were also made concerning peoples of the Caucasus, and peoples of Transcaucasia. It is possible to speak a lot about them. As I was a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU and participated in many discussions in those years, I remember them and today I think it is necessary to speak about it because the history should know all the truth.

The matter is that this chauvinism which was shown by different heads of Soviet Uniona and Communist party, led to the fact that the interests, national customs, national traditions of peoples living in the Soviet Union, and including peoples living in the Caucasus, were not taken into account.

I remember, when the problem was solved on replacement of the head of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic and Malbakhov was abandoning from his post, there was planned the assignment of a siberian, the person having no relation at all to this region, to this republic, naturally, not belonging to a local nationality. At that time I objected it but this objection certainly was not taken into regard due to voluntary decision of some heads of the Communist Party and first of all Gorbachev.

The same incident took place in Kazakhstan, when there was appointed a person to the republic, the whole Kazakh Republic, who has never lived, worked there, naturally, did not belong to a local nationality. It is possible to bring many such facts. But I briefly spoke to remind one of the reasons of those conflicts, those troubles, and tragedies which are experienced by all of us, and by the Caucasus today.

Thank goodness, now in Russia, in the democratic Russia, these issues are solved better, more normally. And I think that our duty, our major duty is to block ways to nationalism, separatism, chauvinism and to prevent it not only for the Caucasus, but also for our political activity. It is especially important for the Caucasus. I repeat, I believe that now these principles are prevailing in Russia, and I am confident that it will help the prompt settlement of conflicts in the Caucasus.

We worry for all the events occurring in the Caucasus, first of all that occurs in the Chechen Republic. I welcome the steps undertaken by President Boris Yeltsin for peace settlement of the conflict in the Chechen Republic. I hope and I am sure that these steps will be continued, the peace in the Chechen Republic will be established, and it will have great value for settlement of other conflicts on Caucasus - and on Northern Caucasus, and in Transcaucasia as a whole.

Therefore, I once again welcome this step of President Boris Yeltsin and I hope that it will have the continuation. To solve conflicts in Transcaucasia, we are in need of the big support of the Russian Federation, the President of Russia and the Russian state. Those peace-making efforts which are undertaken by Russia and personally by President Boris Yeltsin, including intermediary efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan for the resolution of the Mountainous Garabag conflict, have great value and we would like to hope that those efforts they will proceed and will lead to a full settlement of the problem.

In general, I once again want to express my deep satisfaction of today's meeting. I wish there were peace and stability on Caucasus, because people of different nationalities, different faiths live on Caucasus, many of them belong to Moslem religion. Unfortunately, in those days in Soviet Union as a whole there was a wrong attitude to religion and particularly, there was an aggressive attitude towards the Moslem religion. It is just one of the reasons of those conflicts which, unfortunately, have arisen. I think that now these problems in Russia have found their most correct treatment. And thereby, our duty, a duty of each of us, I am speaking of my duty, consists of showing maximum thoughtfulness to these issues, the valid attitude to all religious, to all faiths, and to all persons irrespective of their nationality. And in this connection, I repeat, there is an opportunity to unite peoples of the Caucasus and make the Caucasus stable and peaceful.

I agree with opinion of President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin that it would be better if we to continue these meetings and make them traditional I think we would get a great advantage from it. For instance, as a person working on Caucasus, not only on Caucasus, and in former Soviet Union for many years, I meet such structure of staff-personnel of the leaders for the first time. It is very pleasant and joyful.

Using this opportunity, I want to tell some words about the present situation in Russia. Now Russia experiences very responsible stage of the life very important socio-political processes take place, and a preparation for presidential elections of Russia is underway. Naturally, this is a business of Russians, business of citizens of Russia. We only can concern this from the point of view of our sympathy, our respect or our any opinion. But we are not indifferent to the destiny of Russia and the future of Russia. Because our republic, I mean the Republic of Azerbaijan is connected with Russia by centuries-old historic, economic, cultural, scientific, technical relations, humanitarian relations, and these relations should live and proceed. We cannot interrupt them and therefore, we should do all to develop them. And in this sense, we can not be indifferent to future of Russia, the Russia we will communicate with.

Economic and political reforms are being carryed out in Russia. In this respect, Russia is an example for us, for other republics included in the CIS. These reforms have begun in Russia, and we get much from the experience of Russia. Because we live in identical position and we live the same transition period. And the initiator of realization of these reforms and an active leader of these reforms is Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, who holds a post of the President of Russia for five years. Certainly, we are supporters, I mean Azerbaijan, I am speaking about my opinion, we are hot supporters of the political and economic reforms proceeded in Russia in order to make Russia democratic. We want to see blossoming of democracy, prosperity of democracy in Russia. We are here in this structure as a result of democratization of a life, democratization of a state system in Russia. We want continuation of this course.

Therefore we are supporters of democratic Russia, for the further establishment of principles of democracy in Russia, realization of economic reforms, development of market economy and naturally, all these are lead by President Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, and our sympathy and our support are on his party.

Taking this opportunity, I want, as kind neighbor of Russia, to express hope that the Russian people will make a correct choice, and we will deal with democratic Russia.

Thank you for attention.

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijan - CIS

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - CIS