From the talk of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group of OSCE Carey Cavanaugh (USA), Nikolay Gribkov (Russia), Philippe de Suremaigne (France) and the first deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Trubnikov, July 12, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: Dear co-chairs, we have missed you. You have forgotten us. I am glad that you could finally find time to visit the region.

I welcome you and appreciate that the activities of the Minsk Group have intensified and become stronger lately. Because some people think that the Minsk Group has already lost its importance. On the contrary, I think that you have become stronger both from private and political point of view. The experience you have gained for these years has established a good basis for the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

I approve the route of your present visit. Last time you began from Azerbaijan. This time- from Armenia. Especially, I amglad that you saw Fizuli, one of the occupied districts. You had seen Aghdam before, you saw Fizuli this time. If you had little time, it would be nice to see also the other districts as well. Anyway, I am satisfied with it too.

I welcome you!

Carey Cavanaugh (the US co-chair of the Minsk Group of OSCE): Mr. President, thank you. It is pleasant for us to be back here again, and to think that it is very important to continue our efforts to achieve peace. This problem has been raised to a high level by our governments. President George Bush and President Vladimir Putin discussed it during their meeting in Slovenia. President Putin and President Jacques Chirac discussed it in Saint Petersburg on July 1. Our presidents have given us the exact instructions to do our best to find a solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, to work together with you and President Kocharyan on this issue, to approach it creatively and display mobility to achieve the solution of the problem.

They observe attentively the events currenting in this region and perceive the problem. The awareness of our presidents of this problem is not superficial, they know it in detail. When we see that the presidents are aware of the issue in detail, the diplomats also try not to lag behind, as a rule. Having taken a sheet of paper, President Putin drew the map of the region on it immediately. Looking at the map President Bush said: “Look, this is the problem, but here is a problem too”.

Therefore the international attention to this problem is on a high level. It is pleasant to emphasize that during the visit we have an opportunity to meet you. The route of our present visit has not been chosen at random either. During our previous visit we defined to visit the places, particularly the places what the refugees had settled. We went to the refugee camp in Aghdjabedi and took the journalists from various countries in order to show them what had happened in Aghdam.

Yesterday en route we saw the destructions committed during the armed conflict. We visited Shusha, Fizuli, Horadiz, also Khankendi. At the end of the day we passed the front line. We want to convince the world community that we remember all the destructions and the losses in this region.

Our visit had two aims: to continue the discussions on the solution of the problem with you, Mr. President, and with President Kocharyan, also to emphasize the importance of the possibility of starting the military operations anew, as well.

We know that you are for the peaceful solution of the problem.

At the same time we hear voices that the best way of solution of the problem is the military operations. However, yesterday we witnessed of the results of the military operations. During our visit we were convinced how many people have been victims of the military conflict. We are sure that the solution of the problem can be achieved through negotiations. We have got instructions from our presidents and our governments on it. We have got instructions for working with you and President Kocharyan. Probably, my colleagues want to add something.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov (Russian first deputy Foreign Minister): Dear Heydar Aliyevich, thank you for your hospitality. We want to emphasize what for we have come here. I completely agree with the thought of my colleague Mr. Cavanaugh that we have two purposes- he expressed them exactly. There is no difference in our opinions, we are devoted to these goals, and we shall stay as we are, no matter what the press tells about the co-chairmen and the Minsk Group. It is more important that we are in high spirit to continue our work with the two presidents. We are sure that there is no other means than negotiations. We have completely agreed with this opinion for ever. Therefore, we have come here.

Heydar Aliyevich, I remember well your advice to see Fizuli, it is “better to see than to hear”. Undoubtedly, all that we have seen in Fizuli and Shusha assures us that the “no war, no peace” can not continue long. It is a very hard situation and it has a psychological influence on the populations both of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

We are certain that there is a suitable ground for our efforts from the point of view of positions of the two presidents, because the good will of you and President Kocharyan still remains. Without such an assurance our mission is ineffective and useless. It is the quite on the contrary in the present case. The intensive and pithy negotiations you had with your Armenian colleague for the last half of a year have incited us to strengthen our efforts.

Because you demonstrate to us a good example. Not only do we learn the example, but also use your ideas, and try to convey them as we perceive, to find out the ways of the solution of the problem satisfactory for the both sides. There is no other way. We perceive that there can be neither a victor, nor a loser in this conflict. It is most important. We want to convey this opinion to the world community and we are sure in it.

We must work for peace. All we have seen and heard in Fizuli,- that 3 million square meters have been mined,- are horrible. When flying by helicopter we saw the people living in houses that have only walls, the fertile lands that are not cultivated, and undoubtedly, it made a hard and emotional impression on us, the co-chairmen. I should say that this impressed us more than what we have heard. Thus, it was a right decision to go from Yerevan to Khankendi, Shusha, Fizuli. Because we are ready to do our best in order to eliminate the “no war, no peace” situation through the peaceful solution. I consider that all what Mr. Cavanaugh said coincides with our viewpoints completely. We share the same position. Nobody can speculate as if we have different points of view in our positions. It is not so. We lead our activity as a single team that tries to achieve its goal- to solve this problem peacefully. Heydar Aliyevich, we convince you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

Philippe de Suremaigne (the French co-chair of the Minsk Group of OSCE): Mr. President, I want to express my thankfulness for your hospitality. It is always pleasant for us to visit Baku; however, we have come to work, not to rest. Let`s postpone our rest…

Heydar Aliyev: I wish you could come here for rest.

Philippe de Suremaigne: We would want to demonstrate here that the three co-chairmen are a team and we have come here to implement the work that is attentively watched by the heads of our states. We`ll try for the peaceful solution of the problem in order to let the countries get opportunities for a stable economic development. It is hopeful that the both sides declare that they are for the solution of the issue through negotiations. It is completely clear that the military way of solution of the problem will not only lead to blind alley, but also can cause great disaster. We have come here in order to see everything ourselves. Yesterday en route, also passing by Fizuli we saw the disasters of the war. We have come here in order to demonstrate that we work actively, and the interest of the international community in this problem does not decrease, it observes the course of events, our work attentively. We also wanted the journalists to come with us and to see what we had seen and to inform the world community on the events currenting in this region.

During our visit we became sure that now it is necessary indeed. We were convinced that the present status-quo is very fragile and it is necessary to achieve the solution of the problem soon so that foreign investors, international community could come here and provide an effective assistance.

In this issue time is of paramount importance. We convince you that we are ready to render necessary aid and support to you.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you very much.

While listening to you and remembering the recent processes again, I say decisevely that the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group established in 1992 had got involved in this problem closer now than before. It is a very positive and promising case. Especially President Mr. Bush, President Mr. Putin, President Mr. Chirac pay a great attention to his problem, discuss it and give decisive instructions to the co-chairmen. Thus, I think that the three great powers appointed the co-chairs by the OSCE and responsible for the solution of the conflict have reached a new stage in the solution process. This year in my meetings with President Mr. Bush, President Mr. Putin, President Mr. Chirac I spoke of this problem as the most important issue for us, and in these meetings I felt that the presidents were eager to solve it. This important factor of the new stage has never existed before.

The presidents discussed it as an important issue, for example, in the meetings between President Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin and between President Mr. Putin and President Mr. Chirac and they have given definite instructions to their representatives though there are other large-scale issues in the world

I want to note a significant case here once more. The co-chair of the Minsk Group- Russia, the US, France, presidents Vladimir Putin, George Bush, Jacques Chirac and the delegations appointed by them are of the same opinion and unite their efforts.

I remember the previous period. You are aware that I have been involved in this issue for eight years.

We have never seen before such solidarity between the co-chairs, between the heads of the states and between the officials representing them.

Perhaps it is one of the reasons why the issue hasn`t been solved yet. I hope that the sincere relations between the presidents and the official representatives of the co-chair will strengthen further; the three countries will unite the efforts. They will try for the just solution of the issue.

I am satisfied that using this route you saw Fizuli and passed the frontline from there. All these districts that Nagorno-Karabakh includes, such as Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin, Kalbajar and Shusha are the most beautiful parts of Azerbaijan. Everything created there are the results of several centuries. They have been ravaged.

You did not see these districts in the past. However, I have seen all them. The people who have lived there know it better than I do. Just imagine what I would feel if I could go there and see everything now. You see the disastrous results of the claimants of the land. I think that it was possible to solve the conflict peacefully when it broke out and to prevent the further destructions. Unfortunately, such a tragedy has happened. The people driven out from their homes dwell in tents now, on the other hand, everything created for generations has been destroyed.

The last Sunday suddenly I visited our seaside park. Nobody had expected it, I hadn`t planned it.

When going by car on Sunday- then I was not officially dressed, - I decided to have a little walk in the park. Naturally, I met some people; that was unexpected and nice for me and them.

I walked in the park. I saw that there were scales there and people were weighted. They weighted me too. However, telling it I have another goal. The man that weighted me was one who had moved from Aghdam as a result of the conflict. This way he earns his living here. He told me I had lost my weight a little; however it does not worry me. I shall gain weight when I eat kebab in Shusha. What do I want to say? That man was from Aghdam, and Shusha is still in his mind. Shusha is dear for every Azerbaijani. Just imagine how he will feel when he sees his home, his village destroyed in Aghdam or Shusha.

So this tragedy happened and it is necessary to end it. You are aware that we want to solve this conflict through negotiations. In meetings with you I have always said that I support the peaceful settlement of the issue. This issue will be resolved. This conflict has been going on for nine years. The people have been living in hard conditions.

You saw Fizuli. There are two settlements in Fizuli- the village of Horadiz, and the railway station of Horadiz. The station is in our hands, but the village of the same name is under occupation. It was also occupied, then we liberated it. We have been realizing construction works for several years, a lot of people have moved and dwell there. Perhaps you saw how happy they are. There has never been such a number of population in that place. Now we always speak about the peaceful solution of the problem. After all, this conflict cannot continue for ever.

Somebody say that the best way of the solution of the problem is military operations. Such opinions are not surprising; they are dangerous, but natural at the same time. People see that the issue is not solved peacefully. Thus, they are ready to sacrifice themselves in order to liberate the occupied territories.

I think that it is high time for you to strengthen your activity. The direct negotiations between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia took place. Using such opportunities it is necessary to solve the problem. If the solution of the issue is prolonged further, naturally, unexpected things can occur, then it will be impossible to prevent them. That will make additional difficulties. Thus, I, as the President of Azerbaijan, and our government support the peaceful solution of the issue. We shall maintain this cease-fire regime.

However, sometimes people can lose patience.

I thank you for the work you have done. I suppose that we can talk to you more concretely now. I hope that you will influence the solution of the issue.

Thank you.