Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony of presentation of International Ataturk Peace Prize - November 1, 1999

Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Turkey, my dear friend and brother Suleyman Demirel,

Your Excellency, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, distinguished Bulent Ecevit,

Your Excellency, Chairman of the Parliament of Turkey Yildirim Akbulut,

Your Excellency, Chief of General Headquarters of the Turkish Armed Forces Husein Kivrikoglu,

Messrs Ministers, parliamentarians, political figures, scientists, artists, members of the press,

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters,

Dear friends,

I cordially welcome you and feel a sense of great pleasure and pride for being with you today in Turkey, Ankara.

We experienced the tragedy of August 17 together with you. This earthquake caused considerable damages to the Republic of Turkey. But we believe that it also caused great damages and an impact on Azerbaijan, as we are brothers and friends. Nothing can separate us from each other. We experience this common grief from that day and shall always be with you. After the tragedy, we rendered all possible assistance and shall continue it in future.

Today together with the distinguished President and my brother Suleyman Demirel we visited Kojaeli, Izmit, which was the center of the disaster, held a series of meetings and met the survivors of the tragedy, visited Kojaeli University and took part in the opening of the school year there. All this is an evidence of the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and my fraternal friendship.

I wanted to come to Turkey immediately after the earthquake. But it has not been advised then. And now, arriving in Turkey and visiting these places, meetings held with the affected people and the fact that I witnessed the great work done there by the Republic of Turkey, the government and people within a short time are very dear to me.

Today, first of all I once more declare to the Turkish people and the Turkish Republic that all this is in the past, I wish the people who died from tragedy to rest in peace and recovery for the wounded people. I would like to express the hope that the Turkish people, the country, the people who for centuries endured great trials, the republic created by Ataturk will successfully overcome these challenges.

This work shows that all of the destructions will be restored within a short time even better than before. But the most painful fact for both of us is the death of people.

Today we met there the victims of the disaster. Despite the deep grief they suffer, they greeted President of the Republic of Turkey and me with a great love. Their faces shone with joy and these people spoke to us with great optimism. This is evidence that the citizens of Turkey, the Turkish people believe in the whole government, trust them and live with the hope that their problems will be solved and they will live better than before.

Dear friends,

Today I feel great excitement, because I was awarded the international prize of peace named after the great leader Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. This award was given to me by the President of the Turkish Republic, my dear friend and brother Suleyman Demirel solemnly with the participation of the highest officials of the Turkish Republic. It is natural that you feel my excitement.

I have received many awards in my life. Here you are already informed of my biography. I have worked the 60 years of my 75. In the past, I served the Soviet Union. In the last 8 years I serve the independent Azerbaijan. For my last work I received the highest awards of a superpower which was the Soviet Union. I have received prizes and awards of many countries. But it is a great honor for me to be presented a Turkish peace award named after the founder of the Turkish Republic, great leader Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. I consider it to be the highest of all prizes and awards ever presented to me.

The decision taken by the highest structure of the organization of the International Peace Prize after Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, which is headed by the prime minister, to award me this prize has a great historical significance. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the organization. I express my gratitude for the appreciation of my work and, in particular, in the sphere of peace.

I am glad that I got this award from the hands of my dear friend and brother, President of the Republic of Turkey Suleyman Demirel, he attached this golden sign on my chest and handed to me this award. It is the most precious and historical event in my life.

My dear brother and friend Suleyman Demirel, I once more thank you and all of you.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk is one of the most outstanding personalities of the world in the twentieth century. As time passes, world will realize his greatness more.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk had great services to the Turkish people and Turkey and at the same time to the whole Turkic and international world. Due to these merits, he earned a high reputation.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk was a man of great talent, which manifested itself from an early age. He showed great heroism even before the establishment of the Turkish Republic, led the war of independence, and after the World War I, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed he was able to prevent many countries and powers who wanted to destruct and divide Turkey and he could achieve it.

The greatest merit of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk is the creation of the Turkish Republic. Maybe today it can be perceived as a common thing, but it is not. This is not a simple event. To attract people who lived 700 years under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, to construct the republic, to put forward the idea of the formation of the republic and to create it is the greatest, one might say, the historical merit of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Time will pass, but the Turkish people, Turkic-speaking peoples and the Turkic world will never forget it.

The Republic of Turkey which was established in 1923 by the great leader Mustafa Kamal Ataturk lives for 76 years. The history of mankind has advanced into the arena many great people. They made revolutions, established states and did a lot for their people. But many of them subsequently were unsuccessful. No one continued their struggle. Perhaps their work was not important for the future. But the greatest achievement of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk was the fact that the Turkish Republic created and headed by him till the end of his life lives for 60 years after his death, develops, carries out his will, demonstrates loyalty to his work and follows his path.

I believe that Mustafa Kamal Ataturk has left a great legacy to mankind. It is great. But the most valuable, the most expensive is the Republic of Turkey of Ataturk, which is democratic, worthy and secular.

For the past 70 years, the Turkish people following the road of great Ataturk and fulfilling his covenants made great achievements. First, the Turkish Republic has become one of the powerful and developed countries of the world. Economic, military and scientific potential of the Turkish Republic put it today in the same rank with the most advanced countries of the world.

The greatest achievement of Turkey is that the Turkish people have acquired knowledge and become educated. Science and culture have developed in Turkey. The republic established in Turkey is the first democratic, legal, secular and worthy republic created in the Islamic world. This republic has become an example for all other nations for its system and politics and had an impact not only in the Muslim world, but also on other countries of Europe.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk proved to the world that in the Muslim country, which lived for centuries under the influence of religion, it is possible to build a decent republic and follow the road of democracy. Using the universal values and combining them with the spiritual values of the people he raised his people to much greater heights.

One of the greatest achievements of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk is that he has created a strong army in Turkey. The Turkish army is a powerful army. You are aware of its strength. We feel a sense of great pride as well. Because our friendly and brotherly Republic of Turkey, which has economically developed, has occupied a worthy place in the world, reached great heights in science and culture, it must be able to protect and preserve itself. Such an army has been created. It was created by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Today, with great pleasure I would like to say that the Turkish army and the Turkish soldiers always remained loyal to the ideas of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, his legacy and followed his road.

Mustafa Kamal Ataturk cared not only for Turkey, but also for all the Turks all over the world and the Turkic world. He had very famous sayings and words in this relation. In the 30s, he said that the Turks in Azerbaijan and Central Asia faced severe problems. But the time will come when they will get rid of this captivity. He said it in the 30s. It happened. Azerbaijan has managed to keep the independence gained in 1918, only for 23 months. Then the Soviet power was established. The Soviet government and communist ideology ruled Azerbaijan for 70 years. But it all ended. In 1991, in connection with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan gained its independence and restored it, that is, the dream of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk was confirmed by it. Even then he saw that Azerbaijan and other Turkic-speaking peoples would not remain in captivity forever and would achieve their independence and freedom. We did it.

Immediately after gaining independence, we built a state based on the principles of "freedom for people, independence for countries".

After gaining its independence Azerbaijan constructed a legal, democratic, secular and worthy state. We follow this course for eight years.

However, this path has not been easy for us. You know, when we gained independence, four years Armenia was committing aggression against Azerbaijan for occupying Nagorno-Karabakh, there was a war, bloodshed and martyrs. After that, in Azerbaijan there was instability, and as a result there was a change in the government. In 1993, civil war broke out in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan faced the threat of splinter. But our people went through all these trials and since 1996 we have established internal stability, that is, social and political stability, peace, and now Azerbaijan follows the road of development.

The biggest problem of Azerbaijan is the aggression of Armenia, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the war that began with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. In this war there was shed a lot of blood, Azerbaijan gave many martyrs and 20 percent of our lands have been occupied for various reasons. Over one million Azerbaijanis from the occupied lands have been forcibly expelled and now they live in tents in various regions of our country. Imagine what it means to live in tents for five, six or seven years. They all suffer, but tolerate. They tolerate, because they believe that they will return home.

When it became clear that the war was senseless, in May 1994, we reached an agreement with Armenia on ceasefire. Over five years, we live in conditions of cease-fire. There is no war, fighting, but there is no peace either. Over the years, we try to solve this problem peacefully. We worked a lot in this area. In particular, we discussed these issues via the Minsk Group of OSCE at the meetings held in international organizations and with the participation of major countries. We stated that the occupied lands of Azerbaijan must be liberated, the people expelled from their lands must return home and a just peace should be established between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We try to achieve it. The road of peace is the main road we follow now. I am pleased that you and Turkey also support our peace-loving policy and us as ever.

As an independent state, Azerbaijan moves towards the market economy. We opened our doors for the investments of the foreign countries. The first oil contract signed in 1994 called ``the Contract of the Century" is already yielding its great results. You know that Turkey is also involved in this contract for the first time, and the share of Turkey in it is 1.75 percent. But after the signature of the contract, according to my special resolution I added to this share five per cent more from the share of Azerbaijan. Then in the next contract, Turkey got 5 and 10 percent. Now Turkey, as an oil country, that is, the "Turkish Petrol" company works side-by-side with the companies of foreign countries to develop oil and gas fields jointly in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. I believe that this will greatly benefit both Turkey and Azerbaijan.

With the signature of this contract, we discuss a question. The question is the export of oil to the world market. Then, both the members of the consortium and we thought that the early oil can be exported via Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. However, export of big oil, which we expect in two years, will need a big oil pipeline.

I want to note that when we signed the "Contract of the Century" in 1994, we reflected in it the creation of a big oil pipeline which will be Baku-Ceyhan. Negotiations and discussions are being held within five years.

A number of states began to exert pressure on us in this issue. They tried to obstacle this contract. A number of the Caspian states, saying that "the status of the Caspian Sea has not been determined" tried to obstacle the implementation of this contract. Their most important goal was to make this big oil pipeline to pass not through the route of Baku-Ceyhan, that is, Turkey, but through Russia. We have prevented all these pressures, removed all them and every year we take a step towards the establishment of Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. A year ago we signed a very important declaration in Ankara. It was signed by the heads of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The document was also signed by the Minister of Energy of the United States of America, Mr. Richardson.

But you know that over the past year this issue has not yet been fully resolved, as there was a definite difference in the prices. I want to tell you openly that the consortium tightened this job, because it thought that after the construction of Baku-Supsa they still will have the ability to export crude oil. In their view, until the production of oil, we should wait a few more years for the construction of Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Perhaps they wanted to choose a different route. But we insisted on the project of Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Over the past year, the representatives of Turkey and Azerbaijan together with the members of the consortium met in Istanbul, Ankara, Washington and Houston, as well as in Baku, and, finally, the issue was resolved.

When President Suleyman Demirel was in Baku on October 18, he asked about the current situation. I said that the consortium requires that Turkey should assume the risk of the pipeline which is to pass through its territory. Turkey is demanding to take the risk of pipeline passing through its territory and the consortium should take the risk of the pipeline which passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia. They did not agree with that. I held further talks with the members of the consortium. Of course, the United States influenced them very much. As a result, the consortium agreed. I believe that at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November, a final agreement on Baku-Ceyhan pipeline will be signed.

The Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood have a long history. However, our new history began after Azerbaijan gained its independence. Turkey has always shown concern about Azerbaijan and always held out the hand of friendship and brotherhood. Even when Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union, when Armenia started aggression against Azerbaijan, Turkey raised its voice, protested against it, supported the Azerbaijanis and condemned the aggressors.

All we have done in this area up to this day, after the independence of Azerbaijan, we have done them together with the Republic of Turkey, The Turkish Republic is a member of the Minsk Group of OSCE, and on the other hand, as friendly and brotherly country, it is directly involved in all matters. In addition, we consult with it, using the experience of Turkey.

For the past eight years, our cooperation, friendship and brotherhood has risen to great heights. We co-operate extensively in the field of economy, science and culture. We also cooperate in the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Today, here I would like to thank the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish people, the citizens of Turkey, the Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, the Turkish government, the parliament of Turkey for these friendly and brotherly relations and for all the assistance rendered to Azerbaijan.

Dear friends,

The Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship is truly eternal, irreversible and indestructible. Today, in Ankara, I once more assure you that the Azerbaijani people should follow the course of independence and will develop and strengthen the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood every day.

Dear friends, handing me this Ataturk award, you lay on me more responsibility and duties. I can feel it. I am aware of my responsibility and duties which are as follows: As President of Azerbaijan, I have to protect, preserve and develop the independence of Azerbaijan, to ensure the process of building a legal, democratic, decent, secular state, establishment of democracy, freedom and human rights, to integrate our economy into the world economy, to strengthen further and elevate the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and to fight for peace.

This award, which is sacred to us, embodies the words of great Ataturk, "Peace at home, peace in the world". Therefore, we want to establish peace in Azerbaijan, and take necessary steps to maintain internal stability. We try to establish complete peace in the Caucasus and throughout the world.

We believe that the twenty-first century should be a century of reconciliation and peace. All the conflicts and wars must be stopped. The world has to follow the course of progress and to develop. The Republic of Turkey is a great example in this sense. We use this experience.

Life and creative activity of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, his heritage are great examples for you and for us, for Azerbaijan. The road covered by the Republic of Turkey for 76 years, its achievements and experiences are examples for Azerbaijan. We used, and will use that experience. Since over 76 years you have already passed it and have made great achievements. We are at the beginning of this road. But, dear friends, you can be sure that we shall resolutely follow this road. No one can turn us from it. Azerbaijan will develop as an independent and democratic state.

Dear friends, today it is a historical day for me. First, because I got such a high prize named after Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Second, I made a speech in front of the most authoritative officials of Turkey. This day is also valuable because it is the birthday of my friend, a great friend of the people of Azerbaijan, President of Turkey, leader of the Turkic world, distinguished Suleyman Demirel. Today he marks his 75th anniversary.

If you allow me to speak about the life and work of my dear friend and brother Suleyman Demirel, I shall have to keep you here for another two hours. Therefore, in order not to bore you, I want to just say that distinguished Suleyman Demirel during his 50 years of political and state activities made a great contribution to Turkey, Turkish people and won the respect of the Turkish people. He did a lot for the Turkish people in reaching the current high level.

You know that. But sometimes people do not know themselves well enough. From the side it is easier to see and appreciate the person. For some reason it is not clear to the person, to understand the processes he is in. it is easy to understand it from the side. I say this not because you do not know the merits of my dear friend Suleyman Demirel. You know and appreciate him and therefore, he is the 9th President of Turkey and carries out his responsibility honorably.

But you should know that Suleyman Demirel is the greatest person who contributed to the development of the Turkish-Azerbaijani friendship and brotherhood. His constant concern for us, attention, kindness and friendship give us more power, inspire our young nation and move it ahead.

I believe that the greatest merit of Suleyman Demirel, today and for the future of the Turkic world is that he is the organizer of the community of the Turkic countries, and he is the only person who ensures the existence of this community from 1992 to the present day. I must tell you frankly that it has caused the creation of different views, that is, the Turkic states unite again, put forward the idea of Turan and so on. This frightened many people. But along with this, in the Turkic-speaking countries some processes are going on.

You should know that for 76 years you live in the democratic republic. But we, the other Turkic-speaking countries make only the first steps. In our work, there are a lot of problems, because some forces want to restore the Soviet Union, which included these Turkic-speaking states, increasing the pressure on them. One of the reasons for this is the same question, why do these states get closer and unite?

Therefore, as a person who is in the mid of it all, I want to tell you that the road of our union has not been smooth and calm since 1992 up to the present day. There were a lot of difficulties, sometimes, for various reasons, among these states there were disagreements and some problems. Thus, let me tell you that it is Suleyman Demirel, who supports the life of the community of the Turkic states and unites all the presidents.

I would like to point out that respect for his personality and politics, his care, attention and warmth, rendered to the Turkic-speaking states, of course, made him a leader for us. For us he is the leader and elder, that is, elder in the sense that he is a man whom everybody respects and honors. It may be that in a question one president does not agree with the other. But where Suleyman Demirel is, all the problems are solved. The main organizer and perpetrator of this unity over the years was my dear friend Suleyman Demirel.

On behalf of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a member of the community of the Turkic-speaking countries I want to say that this unity is important. We have to make this unity to live for a long time. Here, we achieved a lot. The main goal of unity is to be much closer to each other, to join each other in the economic, spiritual, scientific and cultural fields, because we have common historical roots, one religion, language and so on. It is natural. However, people look at it differently from a side. Therefore, this unity must live. It will bear its fruits and results. Suleyman Demirel supports and make it live. As President of Azerbaijan, I express today my gratitude and appreciation in connection with it. I think that the president of any Turkic state shares my opinion and they are always grateful to the distinguished Suleyman Demirel.

On this auspicious day, I cordially congratulate my dear friend and brother Suleyman Demirel on the 75th anniversary of his birth. My dear brother, I wish you a long life. I wish you more energy. Today we were together for 8 hours on feet. Suleyman Demirel is not tired, I think, I am not tired either. Among the presidents we call him a man of motor, since he is a man with boundless energy who is engaged in a number of issues: in the morning he is in one place, in the evening - in the other and the next day - somewhere else.

Besides the countries of the community of the Turkic-speaking states he visited all the countries inhabited by Turks. I believe that there is no a second person like him in the history of Turkey. Visiting a number of continents, countries, places where once, during the period of the Ottoman Empire, Turks lived and still live, to see historical monuments and to revive the Turkic history once more today is one of the most important  and glorious achievements of Suleyman Demirel.

My dear brother, we have still much to do and we shall do it. I believe that the Parliament of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people will not release you from the post. If they will release, we shall not let you go and shall protest. You will continue carry this high and honorable mission for many years. Hence, it is for Turkey, the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people. It is necessary for Azerbaijan and the Turkic world.

Dear friends, I am very excited and pleased that today you have all gathered here in an organized form. I am very pleased that I meet you in such circumstances. I thank you that you listened to my speech patiently till the end. Thank you very much.

Long live Turkey!

Long live Turkey of Ataturk!

Long live the Turkish people!

Long live the Republic of Turkey!

Dear friends, in Azerbaijan, on my initiative there has been published a book about Suleyman Demirel. The preface to this book was written by me. The rest was written by a young Azerbaijani and young Turkish people. I do not know whether you have a lot or a few books written about Suleyman Demirel, but anyway, I believe that this book will be useful to you. I present it to my brother Suleyman Demirel. When you leave, it will also be presented to each of you.

You know that national television of Azerbaijan has recorded a two-part film about Suleyman Demirel. This film was once broadcasted on the Azerbaijani television and it is being broadcasted these days. I present the recordings of this film to Suleyman Demirel. I wish the Turkish television broadcasted the film completely. Thank you very much.