Statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the press conference dedicated to his visit to the Federal Republic of Germany - Bonn, July 3, 1996

Ladies and gentlemen!

Thank you for inviting me to the press centre of your city, to the house of journalists.

As you know, I arrived in Germany on July 3, 1996, on an official visit at the invitation by the German government. This is the first visit of the President of the independent Azerbaijan to Germany.

Yesterday early morning we started our meetings here in Germany. I held meetings with the President of Germany Mr. Roman Herzog, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and other representatives of the German government, as well as the leaders of Bundestag and parliamentarians. We had very comprehensive discussions and talks. I suppose we did a lot for improving of the Azerbaijani-German contacts as a result of it.

Azerbaijan is a newly independent state, it gained independence five years ago and wants to occupy its worthy place in the world community. Because of it, Azerbaijan establishes bilateral and mutually beneficial contacts with all the countries of the world.

Germany is of great importance for Azerbaijan among those countries. Azerbaijan attaches special importance to its relations with Germany because of its great achievements in the sphere of economy for being a democratic state and society and one of the great powers of the world. These contacts have been established in the recent years and we have tried to improve them. My goal in visiting Germany is to raise these contacts to much a higher level, deepen and expand them, and take new steps for their development.

I suppose that a good basis has been laid for improving the German-Azerbaijani relations in our talks with the German leadership and official circles yesterday. I would like to say that I am very satisfied with these meetings and talks, with the hospitality, attention and care shown to me and to the persons who accompany me. I thank all the German people and government.

We focused our attention on the expansion and acceleration of cooperation in the sphere of economy in our talks. There are great opportunities in this sphere and we try to use them efficiently. Today I met numerous representatives of the German businessmen and directors of companies in Köln, economic and industrial centre of the country. I suppose that I disclosed all the opportunities of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Germany in this meeting extensively.

You know that Azerbaijan is a part of Europe. Situated on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan occupies an important geopolitical position. Natural resources of our country, its location in the Caucasus on the crossroads of Europe and Asia attract the attention of the European countries, and all this is interesting for Germany as well. I think that the meetings held yesterday and our meetings planned for today and tomorrow will give an incentive to the Azerbaijani-German contacts, especially to our economic contacts. We are for raising this cooperation to a much higher level.

Thank you and I am ready to answer your questions.

Question: Mr. President, You say that the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is very difficult and the international organizations could contribute to this issue. How do you see this contribution and how do you evaluate the prospect of the settlement of this difficult issue?

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is difficult. This conflict started eight years ago, in 1988, and I would say that it is the longest and most complicated conflict among the conflicts of the world. This conflict erupted as a result of the aggression of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan. Armenia committed the aggression against Azerbaijan with the purpose to seize Nagorno-Karabakh province of Azerbaijan and the war broke out as a result of it. The Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Over one million civil Azerbaijani citizens have been driven out of these territories and at present live in very hard conditions in other regions of Azerbaijan as refugees, mainly in tent camps.

Azerbaijan received hard blows as a result of the conflict and our country suffered great losses, people were killed. Houses, historical monuments, factories, plants, hydro power stations, hospitals, schools and cultural sites, everything which Azerbaijani people built in those territories for centuries were completely destroyed and plundered. Despite all of them, the Republic of Azerbaijan is for the peaceful settlement of the issue. Therefore, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan two years ago. We live in the regime of ceasefire for two years. But we don`t have peace at the same time.

We want peace and we do not want the start of combats again. Thus, we take serious and constructive steps to achieve peace. You said, and I confirm that to resolve this issue is not easy. But there are conditions for the solution of the conflict and they are simple. The conditions are the withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied territories and restoration of the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan recognized by the international organizations. In such a case, Azerbaijan obliges to ensure the security of nearly one hundred thousand Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, and at the same time is ready to grant the highest status of autonomy Nagorno-Karabakh existing in the world.

These conditions are simple and just. If this issue is not settled on the said conditions, it is fault of Armenia. Unfortunately Armenia has unjust approach to the settlement of the conflict. It wants to make Nagorno-Karabakh an independent state, hence to receive independence for it. Thus, these provisions are not complied with. But I declare that Nagorno-Karabakh never can be granted the status of independence. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is in full conformity with the demands of the international law. Every country must protect its territorial integrity. But at the moment, undoubtedly, the settlement of the issue lingers on.

The Minsk Group of OSCE is busy with the settlement of this issue. It holds many meetings and talks. We submit all our proposals to the Minsk Group. But I suppose that the Minsk Group could not make a necessary decision for the just settlement of this issue yet. It is necessary to strengthen the activity of the Minsk Group and we want it. At the same time the world powers, members and non-member states of the Minsk Group must increase their efforts. Germany also can influence the settlement of this issue, as a member of the Minsk Group. I hope that this issue will be settled by peaceful means. We want peace and peaceful settlement of this issue.

Question: Mr. President, you talked about the establishment of a constitutional and democratic state in Azerbaijan. But according to the opinion of the experts who observed the elections, they were not held democratically in Azerbaijan, the opposition parties were banned, all newspapers were shut down and journalists were arrested. How one can speak about democracy in such a country?

Heydar Aliyev: I think that Mr. Manchurian`s question shows how biased he is towards Azerbaijan. First, I want to say that all his statements are lie and contradict the reality. I suppose that he invents them himself.

The truth is as follows: more than 30 political parties have been registered in Azerbaijan. These parties act independently and the majority of them are opposition parties. The parliament elections in last November were held on both majoritarian and proportional system and eight parties participated in them. As a result of these elections, parliamentarians were elected from the opposition parties both on the basis of proportional system, party lists, and majoritarian system. Eight parties were represented in the parliament of Azerbaijan. Some parliamentarians are from the opposition parties.

Political pluralism and freedom of press have been completely ensured in Azerbaijan. I cannot say the exact number of newspapers, they are published in hundreds. Here you are, it was said that they are 560. The majority of them belong to the opposition parties and political organizations. There is no censure. Every journalist writes what he wants. The Azerbaijani authorities inter alia are severely criticized, and sometimes articles tell lies and fabricate things in order to discredit the authorities as Mr. Manchurian. I consider all this normal.

In general, I suppose Mr. Manucharian`s question would have been normal, if he had not have lied. I say frankly that there is not even a single journalist in prisons in Azerbaijan. One year ago one young journalist was arrested for defaming the President of Azerbaijan. I was appealed and I pardoned him. I pardoned them as soon as I knew about it, and they were released.

In April, a Turkish journalist was arrested in Baku. He was arrested not for being a journalist, but for being with criminals during the night. Although he had committed a crime, I pardoned him as well, after the appeal of the representatives of Igdir of Turkey, and he was released and sent to his motherland, Turkey.

Indeed, a democratic and constitutional state is being built and human rights are being protected in Azerbaijan. One third of the first democratic constitution adopted last November is dedicated to the protection of human rights. I answered your questions not by using common words, but facts. But thank you at the same time for asking me this question. Because, it gave me an opportunity, to inform the journalists of the ongoing democratic processes in Azerbaijan.

Question: There were several attempts for the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. How do you appreciate the help of the present administration of Russia in this issue, and what can Moscow do for the normalization of situation?

Heydar Aliyev: There were really several states and political bodies which mediated for the settlement of the issue in past eight years. Undoubtedly, every mediation initiative contributed to the settlement of this issue in some period. But complete settlement of the issue has not been achieved yet.

I said that it is already four years that the Minsk group of OSCE is busy with this issue. Since December 1994, two countries, Russia and Finland chair the Minsk Group. Outside the framework of the Minsk Group, Russia was engaged in independent mediation initiatives. At the same time, the great world powers, the USA, Turkey and others also displayed independent initiatives and submitted proposals. Russia, its president Boris Yeltsin not once discussed this issue with me, and made statements that they would make necessary initiatives and efforts.

The United States also make initiatives in this sphere. I had meetings and talks with the US President Bill Clinton about it.

If you want a concrete response to your question that what can Russia do in this case, I can answer that it can do much and greatly influence the settlement of this issue. Russia probably will join this issue more actively.

RIA Novosti: I would like to ask you one question: What information do you have about the presidential elections in Russia?

One of the reporters participating at the press conference: to my mind everything is OK.

Heydar Aliyev: OK? Very fine.

Question: Mr. President, could you say what agreements did you sign during your meetings?

Heydar Aliyev: Some agreements were signed between Germany and Azerbaijan during the visit of the German foreign minister, deputy Chancellor Klaus Kinkell to Azerbaijan last December. Yesterday also Mr. Kinkell and minister of economy of Azerbaijan signed some agreements. All these agreements were dedicated to the settlement of the economic issues between Germany and Azerbaijan. I suppose that these documents lay a good legal base for our economic cooperation.

Question: Mr. President, what priority issues for Azerbaijan were discussed during your meeting with the Federal Chancellor?

Heydar Aliyev: Yesterday, our talks with Mr. Helmut Kohl were connected with the issues considered to be priorities from the very beginning. No issues lacking priority were discussed in the meeting. Undoubtedly, we mainly focused on the improvement of our economic contacts.

The German companies and concerns are few in Azerbaijan yet. At the same time, yesterday and today we noted that the German companies “Siemens” and “Mannesmann” began to work in Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 20th century. There are great opportunities for the German businessmen and companies to work in Azerbaijan now and it concerns the spheres of oil industry, metallurgy, energy, engineering, chemistry and others. We discussed all these issues with Mr. Helmut Kohl and came in such a conclusion that the Federal Chancellor will assist in their realization concrete projects are submitted.

We held very long discussions on the Trans-Caucasian Transport Highway with Federal Chancellor. Four countries, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan have already signed an agreement for the construction of such a highway. The Trans-Caucasian Highway links the Central Asia and Europe and can pass through the Central Asia, Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Black Sea to Europe, and especially to Germany across the Danube. It was also discussed as a priority issue.

Undoubtedly, the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh was in the focus of our talks. The Caucasian region, the countries of this region, the contacts of Germany with them were also discussed. You see, there is no an issue without priority.

Question: Mr. President, I would like to give a question about Russia. Do you have any anxieties connected with Boris Yeltsin`s health?

Heydar Aliyev: I don`t know if Boris Yeltsin fell ill or no. I think he is not. But if he is, then there are high quality doctors and medical service in Moscow. I have been living and working in Moscow for many years. I know that doctors and medical service are of high quality there. If Boris Yeltsin really falls ill he will be provided with necessary treatment, and he doesn`t need my help.

Question: Mr. President, we know that democracy develops in Azerbaijan, but there are people who act against the independence of Azerbaijan in the name of the Islamic Party. What can you say about it?

Heydar Aliyev: I think that democracy must be established in every country. It is proved by ongoing socio-political processes in the world in the recent years. No one can deprive us from our independence, don`t worry about it.

Thank you for your attention.

Heydar Aliyev: Our independence is eternal, (speeches, statements, interviews, letters, appeals, decrees)- Azernashr, Baku-1998, pp.55-62.