Interview of the President of Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev for journalists in the plane on the way back from Istanbul to Baku - November 20, 1999

 Heydar Aliyev: I was informed that you wish to meet me in the plane and get a brief information on the great international events which occurred at the summit and in Istanbul as a whole.

It is natural that time is too short, and one cannot tell much about it. But I want to note that it is the event which will go down the world history. Because such an international meeting of great importance is held at the end of XX century. I suppose that such a summit will not be held up to the end of XX century.

Its great value consists of the fact that it is the meeting, summit of OSCE. As you have seen, delegations of very high level - presidents, prime ministers and representatives of many international organizations have arrived there.

You saw discussions. But results are as the following: first, the charter was adopted. After the documents adopted in Helsinki in 1975, the Charter of Paris was adopted in 1990. The Istanbul charter is third such document in 25-year history of OSCE. This charter has very great sense and importance. That is, there are very necessary articles to protect: security, peace, stability in Europe in which realities, i.e. events taken place after the Charter of Paris and an attitude to them are also reflected. I am repeating, here as the main essence of the charter - protection of territorial integrity, independence of countries, security, strengthening of peace, protection of human rights, development of democracy and other questions have been reflected.

And therefore, it took us much time to work on this charter. We also worked on this charter for the name of maintenance of Azerbaijan’s interests in the future and managed to realize our offers. Certainly, reading it, you cannot define to whom this or that offer refers. But we know on what clauses we worked upon and achieved their acceptance.

In general, I am very satisfied with this charter and everybody is satisfied. I estimate it as a great achievement in the activity of the OSCE and I would like to tell that it is of great importance as well as for Azerbaijan people.

You know that afterward the political declaration was adopted. Questions discussed during the summit were reflected in this document. There were general questions. But concrete questions are related to attitudes and conflicts in different countries of European continent, for instance in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Pri-Dnestr, Armenia-Azerbaijan, and in Georgia. I consider that the article concerning Azerbaijan - the 20th article - reflects today's reality and we are satisfied with it.

At the last summit, we tried and struggled, as we could but as there was no consensus, the article was not included into the final document. As a result of it, we got the statement of the OSCE chairman. But everything that we wanted has found its reflection there. There is already such an article in the declaration of this summit. I consider that we accept this article according to the reality. That is, we do not object to it and we worked on development of this article ourself.

The second greatest event is the adopted and already signed treaty on conventional armaments in Europe. For the first time, I spoke about it at the meeting held one of these days with writers and poets. Earlier, I have never informed on it in the press. But you know that the treaty on conventional armaments between the Warsaw pact and NATO was signed in 1990, it was defined how many and in which countries the weapon of NATO were kept and how many and in which countries the weapon of the Warsaw pact were kept. The Soviet Union, the Warsaw pact have collapsed. You know that this issue was again on considered in 1992. Russia headed this meeting and collected the heads of the CIS countries on May 14-15, 1992 in Tashkent. Quotas of the countries of the former Soviet Union were defined there.

I have said and once again I am repeating: at that time in Azerbaijan Musavat and other organizations were fighting for power against Mutallibov’s authority. Mutallibov resigned and after that his supporters tried to return him again to power and he returned for a day. People rose against him. When the Popular Front, Musavat and other organizations, which had taken advantage of it, were fighting with each other, these questions were being solved in May. Azerbaijan could not realize there its offers prepared by our experts in advance - the quota of Azerbaijan cannot be equal with Georgia and Armenia in the Southern Caucasus -. Because Rahim Gaziyev was deputed there. He was the representative of either the Popular Front or Mutallibov. Azizbeyov went there too. At that time, he was the deputy chairman of the Soviet of Ministers and did not possess any political right or political knowledge. Abbas Abbasov participated there too. Now he explains that he was accompanying them. Unfortunately, he then used to accompany too frequently in many cases. But treachery was made against Azerbaijan, because Rahim Gaziyev agreed with Grachev and the same quota was defined to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia at that time - 220 tanks, 220 armored troop-carriers, how many planes, guns, etc.

We prevented this document for four years. Americans were in favour much to sign this contract, because if Americans did not sign it again, Russia, taking advantage of absence of control, would distribute their weapon where they wanted. And we were compelled to agree with the contract, and it was signed. Our quota remained the same as before. Unfortunately, Armenia has its quota, besides there are 170 tanks, military machines, etc from Russia. Weapons in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) which is the uncontrollable region are not included in this contract.

I have declared it. We have always told Americans that it should be registered. And they say that then Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) should sign the contract as the subject, or, it is your territory and can be considered as your territory. Or you say that these weapons belong to Armenia, and then you admit that this territory belongs to Armenia, and we will write down everything at Armenia. We were in desperate situation. And that was why, we did not put up resistance any more, and this contract was signed. It was the first contract of the summit. But the basic result of the summit is that an atmosphere, efficiency reigned there, I consider, reflect the changes occurring in the world at the end of XX century.

I am very satisfied with the summit. I consider that it was the summit of very high level according to its maintenance and documents adopted in comparison with the summits in which I took part in 1994 in Budapest, and in 1996 - in Lisbon,. And the host of the summit was brother Turkey and it was the Istanbul summit and one of the adopted basic documents there was the Istanbul charter and this meeting was being held in Turkey, - all this, undoubtedly, was great pride for us. Turkey once again showed its capacity to the world. You have also participated at the former summits. I wish to say that the condition created for work of the summit was better than all others. The palace "Chiragan" was so appropriate for this purpose.

I remember, separate rooms of wooden walls were provided for us in Lisbon. A person speaking in one room could be heard in another room. But here fine conditions were created for work . Certainly, it is very important for me, because I want brother Turkey to show to the world what it is actually capable to do.

It is natural, as Turkey is the brotherly, friendly country for us, we are pleased very much with President Clinton's stay in Turkey more than five days, visited some historical places of this country, and also actively participated in the summit. And not only Clinton, but heads of other big states of the world took an active part there. Last night, we had a supper together with Suleyman Demiral. You know that I was already coming to the airport, and you were at the airport. He made a phone call and said that he had just seen off Clinton and expressed his desire to meet me. I told him that I was already on the way home. He asked me the reason. I answered that the plane was ready to fly. He asked whether it was my plane. My answer was positive. He told me to order to delay the flight till tomorrow. And I did it. We met in the evening, had a family supper together and talked both about results of the summit and of the Baku - Ceyhan pipeline in detail.

The most historical event here was the ceremony of signing the contract on the Baku - Ceyhan oil pipeline for us, for Turkey and for the entire world. Conducting this signing ceremony at such high level, in so majestic, magnificent conditions undoubtedly, shows the great significance of the Baku - Ceyhan oil pipeline.

You know, some intergovernmental documents were signed there. It was Azerbaijan-Turkey-Georgia document on the pipeline of Baku - Ceyhan. In addition, the declaration was signed by Clinton and Nazarbayev. That is, except us, these states are America and Kazakhstan, and they want to transport oil by this pipeline and they incur obligations for realization of this project. And this is very big event. Other documents were signed too. They were signed by our companies. The big package of documents was signed and it is historical event.

You heard my speech there. We have been trying for five years. Naturally, everyone knows that it was founded by us. If we did not sign the "Contract of the Century", it would be impossible to speak about Baku - Ceyhan. We signed the "Contract of the Century", implemented it and produced oil. Everybody and the world believed that there was oil in the Caspian Sea and it was much, Azerbaijan possessed so much oil. Therefore, the decision on construction of such expensive pipeline was accepted. This is a hard question. We have been trying for this purpose for five years. I have done a lot of work in this aspect and I spoke about it yesterday. Every time when I arrived to Turkey I was to be questioned and not only anybody else - when Baku - Ceyhan will be ready? And I answered - it is ready.

I am very glad. Because today we have raised the authority of both Azerbaijan and Turkey. We have demonstrated to the entire world that oil recourses which Azerbaijan has declared, they exist in the Caspian Sea, and in particular, in the Azerbaijan sector, and they exceed our expectations.

You know that later on the contract on transportation of the Turkmen gas was signed. I consider it very significant event, because it is nearly five-six years Turkmenistan has been trying whence to transport its gas. It wanted to transport it via Iran and there was also a contract with Turkey. But it was not impossible to realize it. Then they had a project to lead gas to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Tree-four years ago the representative of American company "Unocal" declared their desire to develop a project. I told them that they were engaged in strange business. They asked me the reason. I answered that it was impossible - you simply do not understand the situation. But at the meeting with me about two years ago, he acknowledged his mistake and said I was right. Therefore, Turkmenistan was searching a way for sale of its gas. They both wanted and did not want to transport gas from here. But now they believed that there was no other way. Certainly, the United States of America have also influenced and supported them. The document on construction of a gas pipeline was signed by Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

At the same time, we signed a memorandum too. It is said in the first signed document that in the future the Azeri gas will flow on this gas pipeline. But we signed the additional memorandum that Turkey incurs the obligation to buy all Azeri gas and not only for itself, but also to transport it to Europe in the future. And this is very big event. Therefore, I consider that we came back home with great victories. Our people, country should be pleased that we have achieved such great goals.

Once again I especially stress this summit and the signing the project of Baku - Ceyhan, the project on the Caspian gas in Turkey, in Istanbul. Like the Turkish people, the Azerbaijan people are also glad for it. Therefore, we spent yesterday evening together with my dear friend Suleyman Demirel and together celebrated these achievements. That is all what I wanted to tell to you about it.

Journalist: Yesterday all the evening, all the long night we walked in Istanbul. You must have seen how people were meeting us warmly everywhere. Ordinary people in streets, shops, restaurants were speaking heartily about Baku - Ceyhan, they were happy. I have never seen such thing in my life. And, the Turkish people are not so much interested in a policy. But everybody from head to foot was discussing this event. Everybody was saying that it had been made by Heydar Aliyev.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, everybody knows it. Therefore, in Turkey, people always love Azerbaijan and personally the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev very much. But this love became even more because of Baku - Ceyhan.

Journalist: And they did not believe that the agreement would be signed on this project.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, right, they did not believe it .

Journalist: Victor Kalyuzhny has declared that this oil pipeline is not rational from the economic point of view, it is supposedly based on political reasons. Please, kindly speak about your bilateral meetings.

Heydar Aliyev: We held so many bilateral meetings and they were very effective. We had rational meeting, negotiations with President Clinton. We talked on all questions, including the peace settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. We had useful meeting and negotiations with President Chirac. I met the German chancellor Shroder. You know that I presented him a few works of art. Two out of twelve art works are in our country, others are kept in New York. I confirmed that they belonged to them. We also talked about other relations, about the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, the condition of Azerbaijan and the subject concerning the peace solution took the first place at all these meetings. You know about the negotiations carried out by me, and I do not want to list them all. I consider that all of them are very successful. And still, I suppose that you attentively listened to my speech at the summit. I spoke very sharply, but at the same time, constructively. And constructiveness was that I suggested preparing the pact on an establishment of peace and security in the Southern Caucasus. I invited the United States of America, the European Union, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and other countries of the OSCE, which were interested in it, to make efforts for preparation and conclusion of this pact. But I made terms - all weapons should be removed out from the Southern Caucasus, there should be no delimitation lines, security should be provided, terrorism, ethnic cleaning, separatism should be prevented, double standards, actions based on the occurred facts should not be made. These are very serious problems. I raised them and I consider that we involved the majority of the OSCE members in this offer of Azerbaijan. And this is also very big event.

Once again I sharply stated my position on Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), criticized the Minsk group. But I positively estimated our negotiations with the Armenian president. And today my opinion is the same. I consider that these negotiations will be continued. Now either the Minsk group will work or negotiations will be continued to solve the problem peacefully.

Journalist: It seems, there should have been a joint statement.

Heydar Aliyev: It was not a joint statement. But we held meetings, discussions with US Secretary of State Madam Albright, French Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vedrin, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ivanov, Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for strengthening the activity of the Minsk group. I pointed out inactivity of the Minsk Group straightforward and demanded to strengthen their activity. And they promised to strengthen it.

That is, I did the utmost of my power for maintenance of interests of Azerbaijan in a short term. Do you have anything to ask?

Now you may go and tell to all those who are mourning, putting on black shawl, organizing "rally", that we did not meet them in streets of Istanbul. Where were they? They wished to come here to hold demonstration. You know that we were staying in the same hotel with Clinton. Only Clinton and the Azerbaijani President were staying in this hotel. And you came there, all of you had this opportunity. That itself speaks in favour of the attitude to Azerbaijan and the President of Azerbaijan.

Journalist: Some people were saying that Clinton would not attend to the signing ceremony, but his representative would come. We said that he had promised to Heydar Aliyev, and written in his letter that he would personally come to Istanbul. And when he came, everybody calmed down.


Heydar Aliyev: Certainly, his flag was there, such thing could not happen. He is very interested person in this question, he himself has done much for the realization of this question. I noted it in my speech there, and you heard it. Then at my meeting with him in private I noted his services. We tried and did much work, but if there was not constant support by the United States of America, and personally by Bill Clinton, if he did not make statements on his further measures to find financial assets for the implementation of this question, certainly, it would be a little bit more difficult to carry out this work. Thank you.

It was translated from its Azerbaijani original in "The Peace Bridge to XXI Century" (The visit of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev to Turkey connected with the OSCE Istanbul Summit - November 17-20, 1999) - "Nurol" publishing house, Baku - 2000, page 151-160.