From the conversation of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev with Victor Kalyuzhny, the Russian Federation deputy foreign minister, special convey of the Russian President on the status of the Caspian Sea - August 31, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: Dear Victor Ivanovich, dear guests, I am glad that despite summer ‎vacations, all of you deal with these questions which are very important for all of ‎us. I consider that the appointment of his special representative of the Russian ‎President on the Caspian Sea and moreover so such skilled oilman as Victor ‎Ivanovich Kalyuzhny, furthers this process. However, slowly, anyway furthers. In ‎comparison with previous times that no movement has achieved, it is possible to ‎consider it positive result. ‎

I am grateful to you that you visit the near-Caspian countries and find out a ‎position of each country. I think that the main thing concerning this question is the ‎principle of international law. But nevertheless each country has its approach, ‎view. I think that all this will lead to that all the same we will come to a common ‎opinion on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. At our previous meetings, we spoke ‎about it when I met President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin here in January of this ‎year. Then, we met in Sochi and we were unanimous that it was difficult to solve ‎all complex of the questions covering concept of the legal status and consequently ‎first of all it is necessary to solve the problem on a sea-bottom for development of ‎mineral resources which as a matter of fact has already begun for a long time. ‎Therefore, I consider that concentrating the main attention to these questions and ‎achieving the solution of this part of questions, we can move towards the solution ‎of other questions. ‎

Much depends on Russia. Russia is the biggest near-Caspian country; it has wide ‎experience and such skilled experts, like you. Therefore much depends on you. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: Thank you, Heydar Aliyevich, for the opportunity of the next ‎meeting with you. The meeting with you is some kind of a stimulator for the ‎further positive steps. Because, the meeting with the president, with you get ‎concrete impulses how it is necessary to move. Moreover such meeting with you, - ‎with the person who penetrates not only large aspects of the question, but also little ‎moments, is very useful and without these little moments it is impossible to ‎achieve the settlement of big questions. In a word, the meeting with you is twice ‎useful. ‎

Therefore, when we come here we always wait for this meeting to exchange ‎opinions on all subjects with hope. I absolutely agree with you that the settlement ‎of this question lasted long. I considered that everything is easier and can be done ‎fast, but delaying this process at this stage, we create difficulties to ourselves to ‎some extent.

We are at such a stage in relations with the near-Caspian states that exchanging ‎opinions, we discuss visit to each country. It has turned out so that the ‎representative of Iran has visited to our country, spoken about his plans, about ‎forthcoming visits to Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and invited us to arrive in Iran to ‎consult and discuss our further steps. Naturally, we have accepted this invitation, ‎visited there and should have come to Baku. And the plan of our visit to ‎Azerbaijan was rich, we held meetings in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, we ‎widely discussed a situation which develops today on the Caspian Sea. And we ‎would like to report you that a new stage starts on a way to the summit. Your visit ‎to Teheran is a historical event for everybody, and we have openly spoken about it ‎in Iran, especially after the event of July 23. During a meeting with the ‎representative of Iran mister Ahani in Moscow I said that Azerbaijan found a way ‎out of this situation in a worthy manner which gained a victory over you, and your ‎decision to go there is a double victory. Naturally, it would be reasonably ‎interesting to us to get know how this visit is prepared. ‎

We would like to state our reasons. Heydar Aliyevich, I want to say that our visit ‎to Iran was good. We have absolutely friendly business, relationships with Iran. ‎We speak more frankly that there are no secret themes between us. I wish to say - I ‎also spoke about it in press - that in spite of the fact that they have undertaken such ‎step, they, representatives of Iran, heartily regret for it, they are happy with your ‎attitude to this event. They, certainly, did not expect this and they just meet ‎surprisingly your position, your reaction, your meeting with Ahani, your opinion. I ‎can tell you frankly, they are satisfied with how this incident was solved. ‎Therefore, now the public opinion in Iran has desire to start to move on a way of ‎the settlement of the question. ‎

Certainly, as you said, Russia and its special representative play great role in ‎regulation of the question. Yes, I consider that certainly, Russia carries out activity, ‎searches for ways, compromise, variants, but it is such a stage that Azerbaijan ‎should say seriously its main word. Your position should become the answer to ‎many questions which the forthcoming summit has to solve. ‎

Heydar Aliyev: Certainly, in this case I don`t agree that you overestimate ‎opportunities of my meeting in Iran. Because all five near-Caspian countries ‎should put identical efforts, like Azerbaijan each country, Russia and Iran, are ‎interested in the settlement of this question. But they are interested in the fair ‎settlement of this question according to world experience, and most of all ‎according to international law. Of course, we should elucidate everything and help ‎each other that each country could approach to the question from these positions. ‎And if these principles remain aside and each country considers that its strong-‎willed decision is correct then, certainly, it will be difficult to find the final ‎decision, a consensus in this question. Certainly, I consider that my visit to Iran is ‎not for this purpose and it has been planned for a long time. This visit has been ‎planned two-three years ago. It is on the agenda for some years, but its realization ‎was not possible. My visit was on the agenda even before this incident, presidential ‎elections in Iran. However, I decided to visit Iran after the presidential elections - I ‎knew that mister Hatemi would be elected - then it was possible to go and meet ‎with the new government. ‎

Certainly, one of the important questions of our meeting and negotiations in ‎Teheran will be this issue as well. But it is the question not for two countries, but ‎five countries. All of us should unite our efforts. The meeting of experts of all five ‎near-Caspian countries was appointed on September 18th in Astana. I would like ‎each country to think about our further possible activity till this time. If experts in ‎Astana come to any consent there will be no difficulties for heads of states any ‎more. The heads of states can discuss among themselves questions, exchange ‎opinions, argue, but the main thing in this business is experts who approach to this ‎question, I repeat, from positions of international law, from positions of the ‎developed practice. So, I will try. But I cherish great hopes for a meeting of experts ‎which will take place in Astana on September 18th. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: Yes, Heydar Aliyevich. Do you know why I spoke about the ‎meeting in Iran? In fact the big advantage that we meet you, the person who can ‎tell either - yes, or not, or can advise how to work in the further. When we come to ‎Iran, the situation was a little bit different there. There, we work at a level of the ‎Ministry for Foreign Affairs and we do not meet with the last instance. They ‎present us something but we at all do not know how it is presented. Therefore, in ‎this respect there are endless problems, maybe, even lack of agreements, ‎understandings. And as you deeply know this problem, to speak in view of a ‎current condition of the question is easier to you. We would like to make it so in ‎this direction as well.

I agree that it should be the decision of five states and nobody should deviate from ‎it, though we are provoked to gather three or four of us. I always said that this ‎meeting should be a meeting of only five near-Caspian states, there can not be ‎compromises concerning it. Today, actually the four works, Turkmenistan does not ‎work with us, it has become isolated. He does not give an opportunity to work at ‎the level of experts, sometimes he himself takes the receiver of the telephone and ‎phones presidents. In fact, he does not give an opportunity to work at a level of ‎working groups. Therefore the four actually works. And this complicates our work ‎and is the deterrent factor for what we are criticized: we have supposedly delayed ‎the settlement of this question. Turkmenistan does not wish to work, he observes, ‎and, to say gently, impedes the process. Therefore, we have said that we have ‎approached to such stage in which the summit is necessary. ‎

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, the summit is necessary. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: Yes, it is necessary because it will also solve the problem of ‎Turkmenistan to some extent. We should tell him that if we have made a decision ‎connected with the five you should participate, give opportunity to people to work. ‎This is our only request and demand to some extent because we bear responsibility ‎for it. That is why, I am speaking about the role which your visit should play and ‎help us connected with working variant to prepare the summit. ‎
‎ ‎
As to working group, I wish to say that we have already agreed with all that before ‎the meeting on September 18, we will exchange working groups on the eve of the ‎summit in a bilateral format to prepare all documents that not to waste time on ‎persuading, disputes during September 18 - 20, that is, to prepare and leave any ‎little disputable ambiguities in advance. We began to approach to meetings of ‎working groups already in a new form. Frankly speaking, Turkmenistan still ‎worries us. I think that their position is not sufficiently flexible and constructive. I ‎understand that everyone has the right to have opinion and we should respect to it, ‎but this opinion should be logical, explainable. In fact, there is also an ‎acknowledgement in the international practice and when there are statements that ‎Azerbaijan must stop to work on deposits "Azeri", "Chirag", "Guneshli", then it is ‎already frivolous statement. And what does "it must be stopped" means? In fact, ‎this project is already implemented for almost seven years, and it has already ‎results. ‎

During the last conversation with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - and then you ‎especially have touched this moment - Niyazov said that if we at all don`t solve the ‎question and achieve to stop the work in disputable territory it already will be ‎success. I want to tell you that Russia does not support this decision because we ‎have a disputable question with Kazakhstan too. Therefore, life can not be stopped. ‎If Turkmenistan more actively solved the problem of the status than Russia it ‎would be possible to solve the problem till January 1, and by January 1 we should ‎solve it. And then it would be possible to speak about any delay of the process. ‎

And if it is not known when the question of the status of the Caspian Sea will be ‎solved it leads to various disagreements, to the frivolous attitude. Therefore we ‎develop the corresponding document. My personal opinion is that we should solve ‎the questions logically, discuss among us and give an impulse for the further ‎productive activity. ‎

I am resolutely sure and I will ask Vladimir Vladimirovich that the term is ‎necessary to us as to students. We should define that, during any time, for example ‎the first half of 2002 we must finish the question concerning the status. And all of ‎us will do it. If the term is not determined everyone will act as he likes. In fact the ‎agreement between Russia and Azerbaijan was signed in the latest minute because ‎there was a term and it could not be broken. We are psychologically ready for it, ‎we live in such rhythm. Therefore, I would ask it you too. In conversation between ‎Nazarbayev and Putin the president of Kazakhstan has also raised this question. ‎We should appoint the term and we will already start to intensify our work in ‎another way. Therefore I will ask it as well as Vladimir Vladimirovich. ‎

Heydar Aliyev: I agree. Even not depending on what result the meeting of working ‎group on 18th will bring, I agree that we should hold the summit. Because, even if ‎we don`t manage to come to agreement at this summit, we will clear up many ‎questions and continue to work. I agree with it, your offer is correct. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: One more moment about which I wished to tell, Heydar ‎Aliyevich. Now there are many conversations on holding the summit. We ‎everywhere say that a time of the summit was not changed. And term of its holding ‎was not scheduled yet. I say that the autumn neither began, nor ended. Today we ‎can not lay the celebratory table for business conversations. But at the same time, ‎all the same Ashgabat has remained as a place of a meeting and taking it and this ‎situation into consideration we think at the business level how to make Niyazov ‎not to delay the agreement of term. Because he should do it personally and not ‎delay this question. Otherwise, uncertainty concerning his position will be ‎appeared. He can delay this question, I think that someone from presidents, for ‎example, Putin or someone else, will call and tell, let's meet. And I would ask you ‎in your conversation with the President of Iran Hatemi to tell him to declare his ‎readiness for this meeting considering some nuances of relations with ‎Turkmenistan. We would ask you to use these nuances. ‎
‎ ‎
Heydar Aliyev: I will certainly do it. However, the general agreement concerning ‎the summit was not made. The president of Turkmenistan has declared that the ‎summit in Ashgabat would be held on October 27. And on this day he will ‎celebrate the decade of independence of Turkmenistan. For what will we go there, ‎to conduct business meeting or to celebrate the decade of independence? ‎Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine have noted the 10th anniversary. Today here the embassy ‎of Ukraine carries out events connected with this holiday. Uzbekistan will mark ‎soon, then - Kazakhstan. We will note it on October 18. And if we invite presidents ‎of other countries on the occasion of the national holiday and at the same time to ‎conduct other event, how it will be estimated? I do not know how they celebrate ‎but we will celebrate it without any luxury. In some countries big parades, ‎demonstrations, actions, which are continued for some days, are carried out. In this ‎situation, certainly, it is very inconvenient to carry on negotiations. Therefore, I ‎say that the summit basically was appointed one-sidedly by Turkmenistan and its ‎time was one-sidedly changed. Certainly, it is possible to suffer such things, but ‎not always. ‎

Let's admit that, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who is the chairman of council of ‎heads of the CIS states, consulted with each of us to hold the meeting in Sochi. ‎First, during the last meeting in Moscow this question was discussed, and then his ‎representative Yarov visited all the CIS countries and coordinated and all of us ‎gave our consent to this day and had a meeting. Therefore, I consider that in this ‎question there should be a full parity too. Or I appoint it for today and all of you ‎should gather. Each country, each president has a program, problems, business. ‎Therefore there should be a mutual agreement here. I repeat, I do not intend to ‎show any initiative. And if Turkmenistan wishes to hold this summit in Ashgabat, ‎and you are not against it, I am ready to go to Ashgabat. But it should be very ‎precisely coordinated between five states. And certainly, I will state these ideas in ‎Teheran during my meeting with the Iranian president. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: Thank you, Heydar Aliyevich, just in conversation with Putin, ‎Niyazov stated doubt that Heydar Aliyevich would not go to Ashgabat. Putin ‎advised him to agree with Hatami, and he would discuss with Heydar Aliyevich. ‎We did not doubt what you said now. Because, Azerbaijan is more interested in the ‎prompt solution of the question on the Caspian Sea. Thank you for the position that ‎you stated, and we will say everywhere that Heydar Aliyevich personally ‎confirmed his participation. ‎

Heydar Aliyevich: Victor Ivanovich, probably, people think about others as they ‎think. I declare that I am in the composition in which these five countries gathered. ‎

May be he has any bases to speak so because in 1998 when the international ‎conference was held on the Silk way in Baku and representatives of 32 countries, ‎including 9 presidents, 14-15 international organizations participated here, but not ‎only the president from Turkmenistan, but even a delegation did not come here. ‎But we did not make it a topic of any conversation. Certainly, I have never such ‎position. I will go there where is considered necessary for all. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: Thank you for it, Heydar Aliyevich. And one more nuance ‎about which I would like to speak. As each state has its opinion, naturally, there ‎are also divergences on the discussion of the status of the Caspian Sea. There are ‎serious enough positive contacts between Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in ‎the settlement of the question on the status of the Caspian Sea. You know that the ‎southern part of the Caspian Sea behaves a little differently. Their position, in our ‎opinion, is deadlock. I have expressed it not with diplomatic words for what I was ‎criticized. In diplomacy it is impossible to say "impasse". But in any case, ‎certainly, we look for conciliatory proposals, compromise variants. Regardless of ‎the fact that there are positions of Azerbaijan and Russia - it is unshakable and ‎Russia does not recede from this statement and from the bases which are reflected ‎there - we would ask you not to exclude a variant of searching the conciliatory ‎proposal. We would like you to charge your group with thinking every day how to ‎resolve the southern variant. ‎

Because, if it was not possible to solve this question once, I consider that the ‎variant on settlement of this question step by step is not excluded. Why? Because ‎we started bilateral relations for which Iran reprobate us today. They say that you ‎have signed the document with Azerbaijan without us. I say, we cannot convince ‎Turkmenistan with you of which you do not want. Therefore, we have started to ‎work in the bilateral order. The life goes on, economic development of the states ‎also moves forward, and it is impossible to stop the process. Therefore, a variant ‎on resolution step by step, I think, is possible, and we already think of ‎compromises. And we have variants of the conciliatory proposal of a southern part. ‎I have understood so that I would have an opportunity to express my opinion ‎concerning the conversation which I don`t want to go into detail. But I would like ‎your responsible people to think of compromises. ‎

Heydar Aliyev: Victor Ivanovich, you know, our society does not like a word ‎‎"compromise". Because we try to solve the conflict problem between Armenia and ‎Azerbaijan. You know that Armenia occupied 20 percent of our territories. One ‎million our citizens were expelled out from their homes, live in tents, territorial ‎integrity of Azerbaijan was broken. There are co-chairmen - Russia, the USA and ‎France. There is a Minsk group and there are 12 states there. This group was ‎created by OSCE. We at the summits, in the international organizations - OSCE, ‎the United Nations - firmly take a position of principles of these organizations - ‎indestructibility of borders of each state, territorial integrity is a basic principle, but ‎these principles are broken by Armenia. ‎

In last two years there are meetings between presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia ‎in order to search compromises. Of course, there can be a compromise in any ‎question, but it should be fair. The compromise should concern both parties, not ‎one party. If one party goes on the compromise, it is not the compromise, but a ‎concession. Therefore, for two years as we say "compromise, compromise", people ‎do not wish to hear this word here. This word has bothered us. And you still add, ‎open one more front of the compromise. ‎

Certainly, I do not distract you from your idea, but at the same time this question ‎should be very carefully studied. ‎

Victor Kalyuzhny: It is absolutely true. I gave here interview to your journalists ‎and said that the compromise should not restrain neither economic, nor political ‎interests of each country, each state. But in any case there is a searching. I would ‎like to tell some words to you separately both in this direction and concerning ‎safety about which there was a conversation at the meeting in Teheran. We hope ‎that your visit to Iran and forthcoming negotiations with President Hatemi will ‎serve for the acceleration of the settlement of this question.

Brief essays


General historical background


Historical backgrounds