Address of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with representatives of the Azerbaijan Community, living in the USA - New York, October 20, 1995

Dear compatriots,

On the day of my arrival in New York I was informed, that our brothers and sisters living in America and Turkey and also people connected with Azerbaijan wanted to meet me. I have come to this meeting with you. I bring you warm greetings from Azerbaijan. I pass on the respect and regard of my people. From depth of my soul I greet you and I wish you all suc­cess, love and happiness at home and at work.

In Azerbaijan we celebrated the fourth anniversary of the state independence of our republic. Azerbaijan has existed four years already as an independent state and as an independent state it entered world communi­ty. It is a member of the UNO. Azerbaijan, as a member of the United Nations Organization, participates in all international assemblies. The representatives of our republic represent our country there.

Here, in New York the ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Organization will be arranged. I, as the President of Azerbaijan, together with a delegation form our republic, arrived here for participation in this ceremo­ny. For us, Azerbaijanis, this is a great historical event for the first time in the history of the Azerbaijan people, the independent Azerbaijan state sent represen­tatives to the 50th anniversary of the highest interna­tional organization - the United Nations Organization. Therefore I have arrived here with a feeling of enor­mous pride, and I greet you.

Azerbaijan is an independent state and as an independent state it has established free links with all countries of the world. We live in an independent Azerbaijan state. At the same time, we think about all Azerbaijanis and Turks living in the world. We all are one nation. We all are of the same root. All people, whether living in Azerbaijan or having arrived from Azerbaijan and now living in America, Iran, Turkey, England and other countries - we all are one entity.

As you know, we are experiencing now in Azerbaijan a hard transition period. There are many problems. Despite this, we always think of our compa­triots, living outside the republic. We are always inter­ested in their life and we want to show the compatriots care and respect, therefore my meeting with you is very dear to me. I am glad, that each of you today, in this evening, came here. Here you have met each other, and me, and also with the representatives of Azerbaijan. I am very glad about this.

The processes going on in Azerbaijan are known to you. As I have noted, Azerbaijan has been an independent state for four years already. The way of indepen­dence is not easy. No people, having gained freedom, no country, having gained the state independence, have had all at once the opportunities for normal conditions of life. It is natural, as the people who have lived long years in the structure of another state, then having separated from this state to become independent, that we should face a variety of problems. To declare independence to the world, to be recognized by all countries is a big problem, too. As you know, Azerbaijan for many years was in the structure of Russia, and then during 70 years in the structure of the Soviet Union. The whole economy, science, culture, and personal relations of the people for the last 70 years were closely connected to other republics also in the structure of the Soviet Union. Our factories, plants, and economy were connected to Russia, Ukraine and other republics. Therefore after gaining independence, after the collapse of the Union, we who were living in the independent state during the transition period faced a variety of problems. Now we are concerned with the resolution of these problems.

Once again I would like to note, that the life of any country, any people in such transition period is not easy. The ways are hard. However the biggest factor complicating life in our republic, is the aggression by Armenia. This mil­itary aggression began in 1989. For different reasons -there is no necessity to investigate them here now, you know about it - Azerbaijan could not protect its lands, thus Armenian armed forces occupied part of them. Presently 20 percent of our territory has been seized by ArmenianĀ«armed forces. More than one million citizens became refugees on occupied lands and live in unbear­able conditions. Many of them day and night, in the winter and in the summer, live in tents. All this compli­cates the transition period in our republic.

However, there are some positive moments. For example, in May, 1994 we achieved a cease-fire in the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. For 17 months the cease­fire has held, that is, military actions have not been conducted and blood has not been shed. However, the Azerbaijan army confronts Armenian armed forces. Armenian forces have not been removed from occupied territories.

The achievement of the cease-fire is a major achievement. I point this out once again. People to a certain degree have gained quietness. In the previous years there was the war and battles were conducted. Each day there were new victims, again blood was shed. Now this is over, though the war has not yet been put to an end. We have not yet freed our land from Armenian occupation. All this creates in our life certain difficulties. We try to use the cease-fire for the estab­lishment of the complete peace, that is the accord to fin­ish this war in a non-violent way, to release occupied lands and to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. For this reason we conduct negotiations. In framework of OSCE - Organization of Safety of Council of Europe in 1992 the Minsk group was creat­ed. It works for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. We constantly negotiate within the framework of the Minsk group. In December of last year, after a meeting of the Heads of State in Budapest, among the members of the OSCE in the Minsk group there were certain changes. There became two chair­men: one from Russia, the other from Finland. Under their joint chairmanship the negotiations are conducted. The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan time from time meet and negotiate. The last meetings and negotiations were held on Alan Island in Finland. The heads of the Minsk group frequently come to Azerbaijan. They go to Armenia, too. Probably here, as well, for in the resolution of these questions, negotia­tions are needed.

I hope that, as a result, our peaceful policy, the con­tinuation of the cease-fire, the realization of intensive negotiations, the active participation in the work of these international organizations, particularly the OSCE, along with close participation in this work from the leadership of the USA, President Bill Clinton, who is also very interested in settlement of the conflict, we shall achieve the peaceful resolution of this question.

Admittedly, it is not easy, because Armenia, which does not want to leave our territories, puts forth many conditions. And we have conditions as well in that all occupied land, including our sacred Shusha and Lahchin regions, must be returned to us. Only under these con­ditions, for safety of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, can we begin discussion on acceptance of the decision on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Only under such circumstances, having concluded a peace treaty, can we establish in our region the long-term peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We insist on it, and in order to achieve it, certainly, we would not leave our lands under occupation. Azerbaijan people have a strong will. Our people are courageous and by all means we shall free our lands. Our people are ready for, this. The territorial integrity and inviolability of the bor­ders of Azerbaijan will be ensured.
The document was taken from the edition of "Heydar Aliyev New Political Course"