From the conversation of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at the reception of the Russian delegation headed by the chief of border-guard service Colonel General Konstantin Totsky - Presidential Palace, June 5, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished Konstatin Vasilyevich, distinguished guests!

Welcome to Azerbaijan. We have not met for a long time. Both of us need this meeting. Because of this I asked you to come our country and hold negotiations with the head of our border forces service.

Konstntin Totski: Mr. President thank you for meeting our delegation. I must say that we feel great respect to our Azerbaijani colleagues. I sincerely say that we came here in highs spirits.

We often meet in the framework of the Council of Commanders of the Border Forces and in bilateral meetings. The situation is sufficiently complicated in the part of the border guarded by both of us, but we know that the Azerbaijani border-guarders carry out their duty with honor. I am glad to say you that we highly appreciate the situation in the border. We have established good, normal, constructive and friendly relations.

We have not met you nearly nine years. İ had an honour to be received by you in Nakhchivan in 1991.

Heydar Aliyev:  In Nakhchivan?

Konstantin Totski: Yes.

Heydar Aliyev: In 1991?


Konstantin Totski: Yes, I was Secretary-General of the Staff of the Caucasian Border Forces. I have been in your house. You gave me sensible advice. The situation was very complicated in those days. You were seriously approaching to this issue and were appointing concrete duties. The events were greeting very critical. When the time passed, we cognized everything, lived, understood that it must be only like this. There is a concrete territory, nation, power, and therefore not only Moscow must introduce rules in the borders. You exactly defined these differences. There are worldwide rules, local problems and we must take into account all of them.

Today we have discussed the situation and got some agreements for further developing the bilateral relations. We approach this issue only like this: the situations in the border, the better both countries will be.

The work of border guards bears good, normal, humanitarian goals. It excludes the work to act against each other. There are problems, the border has shortcomings, and both we and our colleagues lack personnel. But the main thing is that we both are interested in the establishment of the order in the border.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. We have said before and say it today too say that there are close relations between Russia and Azerbaijan.

These friendly neighborhood relations mean that every one has his own government, territory, home and all of them are neighbors, and this neighborhood is friendly in nature. The term "the friendly neighborhood" derives from this. The Azerbaijani-Russian bilateral relations are not defined by this concept, these relations are much broader. We intensively cooperate in the fields of politics', economy, culture, science. Naturally, we include the humanitarian, humane treatments into it, too. A lot of Russians live in Azerbaijan, they are indigenous inhabitants of Azerbaijan. A lot of Azerbaijanis live in Russia. It's true that a few of them are inhabitants of Russia, but they went to Russia and have been living there nearly thirty, forty, fifty years. Some of them migrated there in the recent years. This is a factor, but not the single factor.

We are a sovereign state. Every state has its opportunities, as well as the problems. Exchange of commodities, trade and undoubtedly humane relations condition the activity of border services. The border service of Azerbaijan is new. You know that in the former Soviet Union there were a few Azerbaijanis in the border service. For some reason the Azerbaijanis rarely were sent there for the military service there.

I did not understand its reason when I worked in Azerbaijan and later in Moscow. A veteran border guard was living in Azerbaijan. I was trying to support them in seventies because they can help us in the security of border. Before Azerbaijan bordered only by Iran. This was the border of Soviet Union. Now the border of Azerbaijan is long. It borders with Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia. The borders with Armenia were broken down. We need a lot of military force, opportunities, specialists. Today we lack of them, and I think that we need time for training our specialists-military officers for the border security. Of course, we lack sufficient number of soldiers, too. I remember that there were so many men in the service with no officer ranks, but are serving for a long time.

We want to establish friendly relations with Russia in order everything go well. How many kilometers is our border with Russia?

Konstantin Totsky: 375 kilometers. It is not too long. The length of border with Iran is 1000 kilometers. If we take into account the situation in the Caucasus, the birth of criminal and armed groups, contrabandists, drug trafficking now the situation in the border is enough complicated.

Surely, all of you have served at the border in the past years, too. Then the border of the Soviet Union was closed- there were twofold barbed wires and a ploughed stripe.

I remember all of these. Even a little noise gave a signal and all soldiers of the post woke up. Not only the frontier post, but commandant's office woke up. Once the border was violated in Bilesuvar when I worked at the State Security Committee.

They supposed that somebody has passed from Iran. Everybody was mobilized, even I spent a few days there. We thought that a spy had crossed the border. In some days it was founded that a man had lost his way, then fell into a ravine and died. We spend much time to clarify this event. I want say that in those days the border was like this, it was seriously guarded. Now it is not like this. Surely, it is not like this in your country, too. Undoubtedly, it all needs more efforts and mutual action.

I am glad to hear your positive views about the border service of Azerbaijan. Our border-guards also gave me the same information. I am glad for it. I have said and repeat once more that we should do our best for improving the situation in the border service and take into account the situation in the North Caucasus not allow the armed gangs, bandits to cross the border, to smuggle weapon and so on.

You reminded our meeting in Nakhchivan nine years ago. Then it was very hard. You told the truth, in those days they could not understand whether we lived in the independent state or in Soviet Union? Various forces and groups were working. The situation of Azerbaijan was especially hard. Surely, you have visited the Martyr`s Alley. In 1990 a great crime was commited against the Azerbaijani nation in Baku. The troops of the Soviet Union were arrived in Azerbaijan and murdered a lot of people. Then the Azerbaijani-Armenian war was declared.

The heads of the former Soviet Union treated Azerbaijan not fairly in the settlement of this conflict. All of these events aggravated the situation. The situation was very hard here. But we bore to all of the events and liquidated this problem. Now the boundaries are known and normal bilateral relations have been established.

The news of various officers and officials appear in the Russian press and tell that the terrorists, armed gangs come to Norther Caucasus via Azerbaijan. I remember in 1999 such news was much more. Then I asked General Nikolayev, commander of the Russian border service, to send to Azerbaijan a brigade. First the borders were guarded both from the sides of Azerbaijan and Dagestan. If something crosses Azerbaijani territory, then the Russian frontier-guards must not allow. But if both of them allow and you accuse only Azerbaijan, it's unjust.

Nevertheless, I have declared many times to give us an example or a fact proving your claims.

Some one began to say that they cross the borders in the mountainous and forests. In such a case I asked General Nikolayev to send a brigade. I am very glad to meet General Kojevnikov in Azerbaijan. He came here with a great brigade and remained nearly a week in Azerbaijan. He examined everything. Then I met you in this hall and learned from you that there are no facts evidencing it.

Those times have passed. As if Peace was established in Chechenistan. But a new war broke out. The Russian media began to broadcast the news, information and sometimes declarations of officials of the Ministry of Defence. I said sometimes and repeat once again that the persons responsible for establishing order in the Northern Caucasus are not able to do it. They find a pretext to prove their innocence and say that the bandits come to Russia via Azerbaijan. We have problems with terrorists, bandits since 1987-88. We were always against separatism. We do not support any terror act. If Russia fights against separatism and there are international terrorists, how we can allow them to cross to Russia? But even if somebody has crossed the border I repeat that this is not the fault of our border-guards, because the borders are not guarded as before. This is not the fault of Azerbaijan.

This is only coincidence. Plus they did not discover such things.

I know that the border-guard service of Russia is fair in this issue. General Kojhevnikov achieved fair information and I think that he conveyed it to his headquarters. At last our representatives met your delegation. They informed me that the border-guards occupy an objective position. But I can not say this about all the commanders of the Ministry of Defence. Sometimes they deliver untrue information. If they want to hide their weakness and helplessnes, then they seriously harm the Russian-Azerbaijani relations and form a wrong public opinion in the Russian media. If a general makes a speech on TV and says that the bandits cross via Azerbaijan, the people believe him and it is not pleasant for us.

I am satisfied with the cooperation of the Russian-Azerbaijani border service and the headquarters.

I am glad to this. I shall try that this collaboration will be more successful. I think it necessary to say this by using the chance.

The frontier-guard service is very interesting and honorable. I always respect them. Because I was born and grown in the border district. Yet in my childhood I used to run after the frontier soldiers. I liked it and looked at them. Later it became so that I served in the organs of State Security. All of us- the border-guard forces and other militaries served together. I did my best for the development of the frontier-guard service.

I have constructed many posts while being the head of Azerbaijan. The Caucasian militaries often appealed me. Because the budget of the Soviet Union was insufficient. I allocated money from the own budget of Azerbaijan. I even remember that once time I passed a resolution on this issue. I surely visited the frontier troops. I remembered all the frontier troops by heart. I know even their data.

The frontier-guard is a very honourable and hard service. In those years when there was no war, no military operations I often met our soldiers and there were a lot of soldiers, generals. I said them that you serve in the army, but do not wage a war, you sleep calm, do not go the battle. But the frontier-guards are always in the battle front. While there is no fight, the serious regime of past time demanded more from the soldiers. It`s true, now there is no war, but there are conflicts in some regions, well as in the Northern Caucasus with the evolvement of military forces. It`s surprising that this conflict has not been solved even by using force though so much time has passed. It is very surprising.

The chief of our stuff informed us that you conducted negotiations on some issues. I am satisfied with them. Have you any question to me?

Konstantin Totsky: Thank you, I have no question. Distinguished Mr. Heydar Aliyev we discussed some issues with our colleagues. I gave you information we highly appreciate the works of the Azerbaijanis colleagues. I not only say it here, but twice gave information to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin about the honest service of the Azerbaijani frontier-guards and the situation in the Azerbaijani-Russian border. When military operations started in Daghestan last August I gave information to the prime minister about the implemented works. In May I conveyed my last information to Putin. I said him that the frontier-guards of Azerbaijan serve honestly, we have mutual understanding. I want to inform you on this issue.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

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