Interview of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to the deputy Chief of the Information Department of the Administration of the Russian President Marina Nekrasova - Moscow, January 18, 1996

Question: Heydar Aliyevitch, experts write that Azerbaijan is one of the peaceful CIS countries. I would like to ask such a question: what brought a progressing republic with a prosperous future to the Community of the Independent States? What does CIS mean for you? Why did you decide to participate in this community?

Answer: First, one can not call Azerbaijan one of the most stable countries. Because, for already seven years the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan has been going on. As a result of it, 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory has been occupied by the Armenian armed forces, more than one million of our citizens have been forced out of their lands and live in hard conditions, majority of them in tent camps.

This alone makes the life of Azerbaijan hard. It is true that we achieved a ceasefire in this war with Armenia since two years and half ago. A ceasefire agreement was signed in May 1994. We live in the ceasefire regime for 20 months. If to approach from this point of view, we can say that, there is really tranquility. It is calmer than in the past. War and other factors complicate all our life. For example, let`s take restriction of entry and departure in the northern part of our republic. We have border with Russia connected with railroad and highways. It exerts a negative impact on our works. At the same time, if to have in view that we could eliminate some interior political processes and establish socio-political stability, then I agree with you that the situation is better in the republic. It was not so in the past.

In the past, the internal political situation in Azerbaijan was hard along with external factors. In this sense, we achieved a lot and stability was established in the republic indeed.

Now about your question concerning the reason which brought Azerbaijan to CIS. Azerbaijan was not a member of CIS, you know it. In 1993, being in the state of civil war, Azerbaijan was not a part of CIS as well. I had to convince the public opinion, the people in the republic that the membership of Azerbaijan to CIS is necessary.

What is the reason of our entry to CIS? Our countries, the independent states which are the members of the community were within one country for dozens of years and before. That is why we were connected with many links, especially within the Soviet Union in all these years. Dislocation of the productive forces within the framework of the Soviet Union or its determination had integrated the economies of our countries. Beside, we are humans. There were no borders before, and people could travel the Soviet Union and everyone could dwell where he wanted, someone had started to live outside of Azerbaijan. They are numerous in Russia, Moscow. Thus, one can not break these connections and restrict them with state borders. Elimination of the hardships in connection with the transition period, transition from one socio-economic system to another conditions our unity within the community.

That is why we entered into CIS and I think it is a right decision. We have not lost anything, on contrary, we have gained.

Question: Heydar Aliyevitch, before the meeting of the high-level delegations, you met the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister. What are the results of these meetings.

Answer: I am satisfied with this meeting. I think them useful. The result is satisfactory. We discussed a number of important issues with President Boris Nikolayvitch Yeltsin, first of all the elimination of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. We exchanged views about this issue and reviewed some possible ways of settlement of the issue. Boris Nikolayevitch decided to deal with this issue actively now. I think it is right. We agreed on some measures as well. These measures must be taken to achieve the solution of the conflict and cease of the military operations completely soon. I am very satisfied with it.

We discussed this issue with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Victor Chernomyrdin as well. We also discussed some issues of bilateral relations with Boris Nikolayevitch. I suppose that we could finish the discussions of these issues in conditions of mutual understanding and agreement.

We discussed with Victor Stepanovitch Chernomyrdin our bilateral relations, economic cooperation and some such important issues. One of the important issues is the construction of the oil pipeline for export of the Azerbaijani oil to the Black Sea via the Russian territory. This issue has been worked out in several months. We took a firm decision and signed it. By the way, it is a very important agreement. Boris Nikolayevitch also met the signature of this agreement with satisfaction. Besides, our Prime Minister Fuad Guliyev and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Bolshakov signed an agreement on a long-term economic cooperation until 2000. We signed a document on trade in 1996. I suppose we did a good job. I am satisfied with these results.

Question: I can not, but ask this question. Because it concerns Russians much now, and also because of your rare experience in the solution of conflicts. In any case, you ensured peace during your leadership in the republic. It gives me reason to ask you this question.

You are of the situation in Chechnya. In your opinion, what is the way of its solution? What can you say proceeding from your experience?

Answer: The events in Chechnya worries Russia, and in my view the world community and Azerbaijan as well. We suffer from this because the border between Russia and Azerbaijan which divides Azerbaijan from the Russian republic Dagestan is completely closed, due to the situation in Chechnya. Of course, we want peace in the Caucasus, northern Caucasus, a region directly connected with Azerbaijan. That is why we want the settlement of this conflict. But I can not to say what is the way of the settlement of this conflict now. It its impossible in such a condition. But I think that the Russian leadership takes steps, and they are enough useful ones. I am confident that the Russian leadership will resolve this conflict.

Question: Last question, Heydar Aliyevitch. What would you ask from yourself in our program and what would be your answers?

Answer: Imeet you for the first time. It looks like a good program. The "Moscow-Kremlin" program is of a great importance for Russia itself, and Azerbaijan, and as well as for the countries which have close and friendly relations among them. I wish successes to your broadcastings. Let it lives forever. I think that it will live and contribute to strengthening the Russian Federation and its relations with the CIS countries, including Azerbaijan. Thank you.

"Heydar Aliyev: Our independence is eternal" (speeches, declarations, statements, interviews, letters, appeals, decrees) - Azernashr, Baku-2003, vol.V, pp.283.