Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the session of Milli Majlis (National Assembly) - February 23, 2001

Dear Milli Majlis!

Dear deputies, ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily welcome you, Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan, newly elected Milli Majlis and I wish you successes in your activities within the forthcoming five years.

This Milli Majlis was elected for the second time after Azerbaijan gained its state independence. Milli Majlis, which was elected in 1995, has done much for strengthening independence of Azerbaijan, for development of the construction process of legal, democratic, secular state and for implementation of social and economic, legal-political reforms. And laws accepted by it are basic essence of its activity. I can courageously say that for expired five years Milli Majlis has worked very fruitfully, passed laws having great value and complex character. These laws have assumed great significance for development of the independent state in Azerbaijan, for carrying out economic reforms, for ensuring the pre-eminence of law and for creation of a legal state. At the same time, Milli Majlis has brought its contribution to realization of foreign policy of the Azerbaijan state by means of inter-parliamentary relations, other means. Therefore, today we should decently estimate the activity of Milli Majlis, elected on the basis of the first Constitution, after Azerbaijan found its independence and the activity of the former Milli Majlis with feeling of satisfaction.

I consider that Milli Majlis elected for the second time is of higher quality according to its structure and level. I am absolutely sure that Milli Majlis, which just started to work, will work more fruitfully than the last period and make use of gained experience effectively. Thus, as the supreme legislative body, it will carry out its duties directed on even more strengthening the state independence in Azerbaijan and realization of duties before the independent state. Meeting with you for the first time, I congratulate you on electing as deputies to Milli Majlis and I wish more and more successes to the new Milli Majlis.

The question brought up today for the discussion has not a character of full discussion. This question has been brought up for discussion of Milli Majlis under my initiative. It is asked, why it has not been brought up for discussion till now, but now? I am explaining.

First, because last years in Milli Majlis, in particular, in a camp of opposition, proposals have been repeatedly put forward, requirements have been sounded to discuss in Milli Majlis the most serious, difficult, the biggest problem, which impedes the development of Azerbaijan`s life, our independent state, - the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, clearing Azerbaijan`s occupied lands and returning people, driven out of their native homes, to their regions. Even some people have put forward proposals to create a commission in Milli Majlis which will be engaged in this question. But as the President of Azerbaijan, I have not considered these proposals expedient. And consequently in last years, I, naturally not alone, but together with all authorities, corresponding bodies and with the leadership of Milli Majlis, have tried to carry out my duty.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vilayat Guliyev informed on the basic questions of that period. Today this question has been brought up for discussion of Milli Majlis that you take part in its discussion, to be exact, estimate today's situation correctly, and still unite your efforts, not only your efforts, but also efforts of all Azerbaijan public, all political forces of Azerbaijan, including all oppositional forces. We have made such a decision to record the course of session completely and broadcast on TV that not only Milli Majlis, but also the public, citizens of Azerbaijan can deeply penetrate this question.

I want you and the public of Azerbaijan to get know what have been done up today, what we could achieve, and the most important is that, what we should do for the settlement of the question. History of this conflict is old. For the first time, in 1988 Armenians, that is, Armenians living in Armenia and in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), started to undertake very serious, rigid actions in order to detach Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) from Azerbaijan and annex it to Armenia, and, it is possible to tell, they have successfully carried out it.

Now, a word "miatsum" has been forgotten. This is an Armenian word. But at that time it was a word which was daily repeatedly sounded in lips of Armenians from Armenia, each Armenian living in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), or Armenians living in various corners of the world.

As I am familiar with these questions for a long time and have very closely dealt with the problem of Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Autonomous Region during my directly leadership in Azerbaijan, I know the history and difficulties of this problem well. These land claims of Armenians are not new. You know that in the past when both Azerbaijan and Armenia and all Caucasus as a whole were in structure of Russia, there were no any republic and borders between republics.

Imperial Russia, after wars of 1804-1813 and 1826-1828, since the period of its domination above northern Azerbaijan, gradually, from year to year, had strengthened its authority here and, at last, applied the system of management. That is, the system, applied by Romanov's generation for long years, had been applied here and at that time this part of Russia had already been divided into provinces, regions. Provinces, regions, as well as all authorities had been ruled by representatives of the czar governments. That is, there were no borders. Who had lived where, remained there.

But at the same time we have a history. We know in which territory Azerbaijan had located. We know it well. All of us know and recollecting all these and our history, we say with heart-ache that the territory of Azerbaijan had been too much larger, vaster than nowadays. However, during the certain periods of history a part of this territory had passed to Armenians - once, twice, thrice.

In 1918, a democratic republic was founded in Azerbaijan for the first time. During the foundation of the democratic republic, there was a war in the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) region. And then the democratic republic collapsed soon and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was established, and the USSR was formed in 1922. And Azerbaijan was one of organizers of the USSR. At that time, borders were defined. Today, recollecting the past, we can tell the truth that Azerbaijan was encroached in those years too. A part of Azerbaijan`s lands was given to Armenia, borders were incorrectly defined. In 1923, the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Autonomous region was founded. Its history is also known. Armenians consider that at that time it was accomplished injustice against Armenians. But we have considered and today we consider that impingement was accomplished upon Azerbaijan. Creation of autonomous region in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) because of being a part of its population Armenians consists in granting autonomy to any territory inside Azerbaijan and granting rights to it based on principles of autonomy.

After that, Armenia and, I can tell that, basically all nationalist circles, intelligentsia of Armenia, not all but malicious nationalist-intelligentsia, dashnak party, which as you know, was founded at the end of the last century, has functioned in various countries and also functions today, - all these forces periodically, during the existence of the Soviet state, lifted the question to separate Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) from Azerbaijan and annex it to Armenia.

I said that I was familiar with these issues due to my activity. They lifted this question both in 50th and 60th years. All these are well-known to me - in fact I supervised this sphere at that time. Since 1969, I have been the head of Azerbaijan. At that time, these questions were also lifted. When the Constitution of the USSR was adopted, the commission on the development of Constitution was created in 1977. The commission was headed by the then secretary-general of Communist party Brezhnev, and representatives of republics, including me, were members of this commission. During preparation of the project in the commission, approximately within one year so many offers entered that Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) must have been separated and annexed to Armenia. Even once and twice an attempt was made to consider this question in the commission.

Understand me correctly, I am speaking of reality. At that time, I prevented it. But to prevent it was difficult. But I prevented it. I prevented it with my will, soul and blood protecting national interests of Azerbaijan people. But at the same time the situation in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) has always been stirred up. Therefore, when I was at the head of Azerbaijan, it should be said openly - we created more favorable economic conditions for Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), for the development of its economy. Because there was a question that ostensibly Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) was being oppressed in Azerbaijan and Armenians could not develop there. At that time, we gave more attention to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), I am repeating, in order to keep integrity of Azerbaijan, its territory. However, then some dilettante people accused me of it. Today, I am repeating that I did it, first, because it was necessary to settle also Azerbaijanis in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), secondly, not to give opportunity to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenians to lift this question.

Then it happened on the contrary. After the beginning of this conflict, in press, in the Soviet press an accusation was again started that ostensibly during my leadership in Azerbaijan I oppressed Armenians, changed the demographic situation existing there, took the certain measures for departure of Armenians from there and they got decreased in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh). They got decreased there as well as in other places of Azerbaijan. It was spoken by Armenians, and even when these questions were discussed in the USSR Supreme Soviet, their representatives, even the president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences Ambarsumyan - in due time we elected him honorary member of Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences, besides, elected him a member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences for strengthening friendship - mentioned my name. I remember his words till now that Heydar Aliyev consistently cleaned Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Azerbaijan from Armenians. I was not surprised by it, but surprised by that then many people accused again Aliyev in Azerbaijan and agreed with these words: Yes, Heydar Aliyev had bad attitude to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), therefore now Armenians wish to annex Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Armenia.

My purpose in speaking about it is that this problem is not new. The Armenian side has been working on it. We should not overlook a fact that this process started more intensively 25 days after I was discharged from all affairs in Moscow. A month after that, Armenians in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) rose and made a decision on connection Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Armenia. Then these tragedies started and their results are well-known to you.

Today I consider that we have gathered not to look for who is guilty and who is not guilty, why lands were occupied - we have gathered not for this purpose. I would ask to keep these questions aside. I want to express my opinion connected only with one question.

Why it happened so? Not because Azerbaijani people are weaker than Armenians. No, our centuries-old history shows the ability of Azerbaijan people. First, because Armenia, Armenians, have got prepared for this question for a long time. And this question has been forgotten in Azerbaijan. Those years have been forgotten. Secondly, when this conflict started, that is, after land claims of Armenia appeared, all Armenians both in Armenia and in all parts of the world, - forgot all the internal contradictions, attitudes and united. They united around the idea of "miatsum" and, having collected all forces, brought us into today`s condition. Unlike them when these events have begun in Azerbaijan, our people could not join, persons, which were supervising people, have shown unsteadiness, and in one-two year the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) question has already been forgotten. Internal discords, fights, struggles for authority have started in Azerbaijan. And consequently, in such situation, Armenians easily occupied Azerbaijan`s lands.

Once again I am saying and I am asking not to touch upon these questions during today`s discussions. This is a business of the future - if it is necessary. My purpose coming here today and the purpose of my address to Milli Majlis, purpose of my initiative consists of that both Milli Majlis, the public and people know about today`s situation. But not only to know it. Let`s think all together in such a difficult condition. Not only to think, let's cooperate to find a way out of this situation. I am asking from the people, who will speak here not to touch upon history, not to accuse of anyone, not to speak about guiltiness of anybody. Today, these are not necessary. None of these is necessary. Today we should think of how to carry out our duty.

What have we done till now? About it minister for foreign affairs spoke. And I am going to tell some words. What should we do at the present time? 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s lands - first, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), then seven districts around Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) were occupied. From the occupied lands, - if we consider people turned out from Armenia, - then we have one million refugees. The people, turned out from the occupied lands, have been living in tents in heavy conditions not since one-two years, but seven-eight years.

In 1994, we stopped fire. Some people express various opinions about it. Today I am declaring once again that cease-fire in May, 1994 was very important issue and we did it quite consciously. Despite the question was not solved, the expired period has confirmed that these measures should have been taken. Now, unfortunately, many people have forgotten war, live calmly. Unfortunately, they have forgotten what wartime was. People live calmly, our economy develops, foreign investments have flown, process of the state construction is underway, independence becomes stronger, Azerbaijan carries out courageous foreign policy. Realization of all these was impossible in a condition of war.

Stopping fire we hoped that during cease-fire we could achieve the peace solution of the question. But, may be, many people do not know. Those days we have escaped from a danger. Then Russia was mediating in this question basically. Despite the existence of the Minsk Group, Russia took the initiative. The agreement on stopping fire was signed, and immediately Russian Minister of Defense asked to send Ministers of Defense of Azerbaijan and Armenia to Moscow to discuss how to release the occupied lands. We believed in it and sent Minister of Defense there. A person named Mamedov was then the Minister of Defense. Unfortunately, at that time, some Ministers of Defense were unworthy people. But what happened on the next day? Then there were no co-chairmen of the Minsk group, there was a chairman. Chairman was Yan Eliasson from Sweden. He visited Armenia and then arrived here. He was also taking part in establishment of cease-fire. I held negotiations with him. Suddenly, I was informed that TV from Moscow was showing that Grachov was holding a big event for taking necessary measures in Azerbaijan. I immediately became anxious about it and began to search our Minister of Defense in Moscow. What happened? It happened that with the consent of Rasul Guliyev from here and with participation of our ambassador to Moscow there were negotiations on sending Russian dividing armies to the region for ensuring the cease-fire regime. Is Hasan Hasanov here?

Hasan Hasanov (former Minister for Foreign Affairs): Yes, mister President.

Heydar Aliyev: Do you remember?

Hasan Hasanov: Yes, I remember very well.

Heydar Aliyev: We were looking for him all night till the morning, how many hours…

Hasan Hasanov: We found him at 7 o'clock in the morning.

Heydar Aliyev: I forced him at 7 o'clock in the morning urgently to sit down in the plane and arrive here, you remember?

Hasan Hasanov: He hid himself for a time. We could not find him for two hours, he came late.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes. He hid himself, betrayed us. He was not satisfied with it.

Three days later, generals of the Russian Ministry of Defense in the big structure arrived in Azerbaijan with plans that they would place their army here and they would help us to withdraw Armenian army parts from here. I listened to them, thanked for their initiative. And I said that we did not need it. They tried very much, advised us to think over it. I said "no". I asked them to leave for their country. At that time we escaped from such a danger.

But at the same time, the positive aspect should also be noted that we could keep a cease-fire regime between Azerbaijan and Armenia without any dividing forces more than 6 years. And it is not only our service; certainly we have to acknowledge the positive attitude of the Armenian side to the maintenance of a cease-fire regime. Once again, I am noting, following negotiations have not given us a desirable result. But, I wish to tell some words about the process of peace talks in order to give you more extensive information.

In 1992, the OSCE Minsk group was formed, and the United Nations Organization transferred this question under aegis of OSCE. OSCE created the Minsk group and the Minsk conference. There are 12 states in the Minsk group. There were chairmen in the Minsk group. For example, in 1993 when I started to work here, Italy, the deputy minister for foreign affairs of Italy Rafaelly was acting as a chairman. After him, in 1994 - Sweden, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Yan Eliasson was presiding over the group. After 1994, we changed the situation. At that time, simultaneously there was still a war, the representative of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, famous Kazimirov was dealing with the settlement of this question. He was coming to the region once per month. He was inviting our representatives to Moscow. At that time, Tofig Zulfugarov was the deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and the expert on these questions. He was participating in negotiations. "Minister for Foreign Affairs" Gukasyan from Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) was invited. And from here we were sending Bahmanov, the head of Azerbaijan community of Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The work was being carried out simultaneously. During the period that I know Italy, then Sweden was presiding over the Minsk group. At last, we changed the situation at the Budapest summit of OSCE in 1994. That is, we made it a little bit legal.

I am speaking frankly, there were also negotiations on other question between the United States of America and Russia. Hasanov also knows about it. Probably, it is known to Azimov as well. He was also there. Tofig Zulfugarov also knows. Christopher met there with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs and they agreed that Russia and Finland would become co-chairmen of the Minsk group for the settlement of their own question. This period lasted till December, 1996.

In December, 1996 the certain promotion appeared at the Lisbon summit. It was impossible to do anything till that time. But in December, 1994 in Budapest we, first, defined a question on chairmanship in the Minsk group, secondly, a decision was accepted on creation of peace-making forces of OSCE for the first time there and if the agreement was achieved, forces of not one country but peace-making forces of OSCE would come here, to our region. We were planning that peace-making forces would consist of representatives of different countries which had not interests in this region. And it was very important decision. We could achieve it.

At the Lisbon summit, we achieved serious progress. It is known. First, it was written down to recognize territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Armenia, to grant Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) high status of self-management within Azerbaijan and to provide the security of the population of Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) - both Armenian and Azerbaijani.

Here it was already said in the report. I must tell you everything openly. It is not so acceptable for us, but we wished to get a little progress. Therefore, we considered it a serious step forward. This project was developed in Finland, then in Vienna and delivered to Lisbon. Armenia acted completely against this project in Lisbon. There, we tried so much - we have repeatedly spoken about it. Armenia opposed. It is a rule there that the consensus must be reached. The consensus was not reached.

I have spoken about it, you know. I was compelled, probably, it is a unique case in history of diplomacy, but I undertook such a step. I did not give consent to decision of the Lisbon summit. Thus, if one country disagrees with the decision, the Lisbon summit cannot accept it. Why did I do it? I wanted to force the participant-states of the summit to show any attitude to Azerbaijan. After that the known statement was accepted. Armenia did not vote for it again, but 53 states voted.

What was the subsequent period? After the Lisbon summit, we counted that it was necessary to strengthen the activity of the Minsk group co-chairmen even more. Finland left the structure, Russia has remained. The United States of America offered its services, and we wanted it too. We offered the United States of America as the co-chairman. But Armenia and Russia did not agree with it. They accepted France. And we disagreed with their offer. At last, states could not come to the consent, co-chairmen became not two, but three. Russia, the United States of America and France. You should know that the Minsk group did not give us any concrete written offer till this process.

Once again I am saying, on the one hand, the Russian representative Kazimirov was very active. Once every two-three months our representatives met with the Armenian representatives and even with the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) representatives in Moscow or in other place. But there was not any result. The Minsk group was already co-chaired by three big states, and we made demands of them to give their concrete proposals.

Vilayet Guliyev spoke here about these proposals. The first offer called "package settlement" was presented in June, 1997. Now someone from you can ask why you accepted it? We accepted it to know whether we can move forward or not. Even I remember how Clinton highly appreciated it at the meeting with him on August 1, in Washington, in the White House. He even asked me to say in my speech that we accepted it, - because he also delivered a speech and noted that they accepted it. I said it. Armenia did not accept it.

After that, the second offer, "stage-by-stage settlement" was submitted. And we again accepted it but not because it was favorable for us. However, it was more favorable than previous. Vilayet Gouliyev spoke about it. But we wanted to get a little progress. But Armenia did not accept it as well. Vilayet Gouliyev spoke about the subsequent processes.

At last, in Armenia Ter-Petrosyan accepted the second offer. We made a joint statement to work on its basis in Strasbourg. An opposition turned out against Ter-Petrosyan in Armenia. Thus, in February, 1998 Ter-Petrosyan went to retirement, and soon after that Kocharyan was elected a president. There was nothing in 1998, the Minsk group offered nothing. Why did not they give an offer? They said that they were expecting. A new president was elected, a government was still being formed in Armenia. We waited for a long time, finally, at the end of 1998, they submitted us a proposal of "the general state". In Azerbaijan, there is such a saying that it is blacker than black. In comparison with the previous offers, it was much more in prejudice of Azerbaijan.

Those who took part in these negotiations can remember. As soon as I heard it, I said that we do not want to discuss it at all. They tried very much to explain to me. I said that I do not want to discuss it. You put us in such a condition that two states are created in territory of Azerbaijan - Azerbaijan and still Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), to which Azerbaijan has no right. And you say that as if territorial integrity Azerbaijan is kept. I said: "What do you think? Are really we so silly not to understand what it means?" We refused it. But Armenia accepted it, and till now Armenia declares everywhere that if Azerbaijan accepted the formula "the general state" at the end of 1998, now peace would have been established, and the conflict would be finished. Certainly, in their favor. The condition is so.

You should know, on today's discussion I am declaring that all of these three offers have remained in history. They cannot come back any more. I consider that the last offer was a big sabotage against Azerbaijan, and we rejected it completely. After that the Minsk group did not put forward any proposal.

Both yesterday and today, I heard that various conversations have been made after the publication of these questions, offers in press. Even opposition parties, organizations, etc. in our country have gathered and set up a clamor that supposedly Heydar Aliyev wanted to accept the formula of "the general state" and to make the parliament to accept it. You know, this is a problem of our people, our nation.

Our citizens, people, living with unreasonable political ambitions, you have been invited here. Come and listen. If Heydar Aliyev did not protect interests of Azerbaijan in this question, stand up and cut off his head.

But they are contriving, making noise. Last night ANS TV informed that 50 political parties had made a decision to hold actions. You know, I would advice to ANS TV just to work on principles of justice, but not on the basis of sensation. As a matter of fact, there are no 40 parties in Azerbaijan at all. Those which consider themselves parties are not parties, but there are no 50 parties even if we consider them parties. All registered parties are known, and they have been invited here. But Mister Murtuz Alaskerov said that some of them did not come. So why do not you come? On the one hand, you want discussions, you want we to state our opinions, to get know about everything. And on the other hand, not knowing anything, you contrive and make noise. One says it is necessary to hold actions, another says to lift up the people. Let they know that nobody can do it. There is a Constitution, laws of Azerbaijan. Those times have passed. The Azerbaijan state is a powerful state. Every person can carry out activity within limits of the Constitution, negotiations, democracy, political pluralism, within limits of pre-eminence of law. However, who wishes to carry out activity outside them, he will be properly answered.

As the President of Azerbaijan, I am declaring that the past cannot repeat any more. Do people, who organized here civil war in 1993 and divided Azerbaijan among themselves and those, who supported these people, - I don`t want to speak about it widely now - think of Azerbaijan more than us? Therefore, I am declaring once again, any of the published offers has not been accepted and will not be accepted.

Today in the morning, I was told that a great discontent had been expressed in Armenia that Azerbaijan had broken confidentiality and published offers. This message was given as well as yesterday. They have even addressed to the Minsk group. I was told in the morning that they had also published the last offer - the formula of "the common state".

First, we did not promise anybody that we would keep all these in the secret. Yes, I considered and today I consider that the process of negotiations should be in the secret. A message must be given after the achievement of result. I am repeating it as well as today. I am saying it to all public, people. If we achieve a result, come to a decision, nobody, including President Heydar Aliyev can hide it.

Certainly, first of all, it should be discussed in Milli Majlis. Then it should be given to the discussion of the people. If the people, Milli Majlis do not accept it, can the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev solve the problem independently? First, be sure that, today and tomorrow Heydar Aliyev will not accept anything contrary to interests of the Azerbaijan people. Secondly, if there is an idea as a result of some compromises that, yes, it can be accepted, it will never be secret. Negotiations process goes secretly and will go secretly. If we make it public, we will inform the public on a course of negotiations process, nothing will happen.

But what is my purpose today? And it consists in informing you about everything. Let the public, people know and say what we should do. Why am I saying it? Because after the offer of "the common state" formula, the Minsk group did not give any other offers.

In April, 1999, in Washington, in the 50th anniversary of NATO, the leadership of the United States of America, President Clinton, the State Secretary madam Albright asked me to meet and talk to Kocharyan. I met and conducted a discussion. It was found out there that we could come to the consent connected with the certain questions. And consequently, this negotiation process continued. We did not have a meeting in 1999. I visited Geneva twice with this purpose and then we met in the border. We can say that in October, 1999, it was possible to bring positions considerably together. But after the act of terrorism in the Armenian parliament in 1999, Armenia refused a little agreement reached by us.

And now, after these meetings started, the Minsk group, its co-chairmen, OSCE, Council of Europe and heads of the European Union - they were here two days ago - are saying that both presidents should solve the question and they supposedly will be agree how presidents will solve it. It is extremely difficult for two presidents to solve the question. Because lands of one President`s country have been occupied and there are one million refugees. And the country of other President experiences big economic difficulties, but its army is keeping Azerbaijan`s grounds under occupation.

Vilayet Guliyev informed here. But I want to say some figures too. You know, since 1993 till this day, I have been holding 485 meetings with presidents, heads of 68 countries. Either I have paid official visits, or they have come to Azerbaijan. Some meetings have been held when we carried on talks in the international organizations. Know, at all these meetings, and even at the meeting with the sultan of Brunei I have spoken about this question, discussed it. I have asked to render assistance to Azerbaijan, to support Azerbaijan.

I know a number of these meetings. For example, I discussed this question for 18 times with the President, Minister for Foreign Affairs of United States of America, France - 16 times, Russia - 28 times, repeatedly with all leadership of Turkey - 78 times. I do not want to take your time.

In this connection I have conducted tens meetings with the leadership of the United Nations Organization, with former Secretary General Butros Gali and present Koffi Annan. You remember, Butros Gali has delivered a speech here. I have made a speech thrice at the summit in the United Nations Organization. My speeches have been published. I have criticized the United Nations Organization in all my speeches connected with not execution of resolutions accepted by them. What do they say? They say that we accept resolutions, but we do not have their fulfillment mechanism. What can I do?

I have noted it in my speeches at three summits of NATO - in Washington, in Madrid and in other places. I have met secretaries general of NATO for four times. I have spoken about it with all of them. At the OSCE summits - I already noted it - in Budapest, in Lisbon and last time in Istanbul.

I see a press writes that the question has ostensibly been solved at the Istanbul summit. These are lies. Why you write such things about which you don`t know? Why you fabricate such things about which you don`t know? No question has been solved there. Minister for Foreign Affairs of America Albright, Ministers for Foreign Affairs of France, Russia, Turkey, OSCE chairman, it seem that, the prime minister of Norway and two presidents have discussed the question and could not have come to any decision.

We are members of Commonwealth of the Independent States. I lifted this question all sessions of heads of states. Our friends, brothers, other countries at all do not say that Armenia is an aggressor. There are words "struggle against separatism" in some documents of Commonwealth of the Independent States and Armenia objects to it. At the same time, I insist on writing words "struggle against separatism". All heads of states ask me to take my proposal back. Including, our brothers, countries of the Central Asia.

The summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference has been held twice. I have delivered a speech, spoken about it. The summit of the ECO - the Economic Cooperation Organization has been held for four times. Five summits of heads of states of Turkic countries have been held. I have held how many meetings.

I want to say that Turkey, our friend, brother country, considers Armenia as an aggressor and declares it everywhere. The Organization of Islamic conference is the only organization in which we can write the formula of aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan in resolutions and oppose to this aggression. Iran declares that Armenia has made aggression against Azerbaijan.

But any country, except these, does not say that Armenia has made aggression against Azerbaijan. Four resolutions have been adopted in the United Nations Security Council. I asked Vilayet Guliyev to look at these resolutions again. Today in the morning I also looked at them. It is written in these four resolutions that the occupational army should leave occupied lands of Azerbaijan. But there is not a word "Armenia", that is, there are no words "the Armenian armed forces". But in one of resolutions it is written to demand from Armenia to exert influence on Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh). In a reality, it is an Armenian-Azerbaijan war. In a reality, Armenia has made aggression against Azerbaijan. However, nobody recognizes Armenia as an aggressor in a document of any international organization, except the fact mentioned by me, in a statement of any state.

We say the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict and this formula has been presented to the people by me. But others say the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict. Because they consider that it is the conflict not between two countries but between Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Azerbaijan. I have repeatedly said that if it was so, let Armenia step aside. Then it will be our business what negotiations we conduct with Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), what we can do. We can solve it in the shortest time. However, now Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenia is one country. They are one country for 11 years. However, nobody wants to recognize this reality.

Now everyone addresses to me concerning my meeting with Kocharyan. They say that you are a strong leader, strong-willed person and so on. Solve this problem. I ask: how to solve? Tell Armenia, let them take a constructive position in this question, and we will also take. In this case we will solve it. They say that Armenia is helpless, poor and its economy is in heavy condition and so on.

There is a warm attitude to Armenia in big countries, in the congress of America, or in parliaments of other countries. But it is not so connected with Azerbaijan, despite the fact that we are the country subjected to the aggression, and they are aggressors. We have also seen it when we entered into the Council of Europe. However, the opposition here again tried to accuse the leadership of Azerbaijan that there was supposedly no democracy here. Consequently, do not accept us to the Council of Europe.

I have openly spoken about it and also in my speech in Strasbourg. I said before all Council of Europe that it is necessary to refuse from double standards in the world. And today I am saying that there are double standards in the world.

Once I asked one person: "Elections have been held in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. What is the difference among these elections? Tell the truth". He said that there was no special difference. I asked: "Why you blame us that election had been held with infringements but do not blame them?" They do not answer; do not pay attention to it. I do not consider that in our country elections have been held with infringements. At the same time, I do not consider that everything is ideal in our country. I have repeatedly said that everything had a stage. If we take this stage, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia - all of us are at the same stage. But in economic development we considerably surpass both Georgia, and Armenia. We noticeably surpass them as well as in internal stability. What is necessary for a country? Peace is necessary for a country. Internal political stability is necessary for a country. Economic development is necessary for a country. However, these questions have stood aside, some people repeat: democracy, democracy, democracy. Those people, who speak about democracy, just abuse it.

I have said and I am saying that there is a democracy in Azerbaijan, democracy develops and will develop. Let nobody abuses this question. Nobody can influence on Azerbaijan in this connection by means of various opportunities. Our Azerbaijan has its way. Our people have its national value. Let nobody thinks that today there will be the same democracy here, in Azerbaijan as in France. It needs many years for this purpose.

I am speaking about all these in order to direct your attention to these double standards. And this double standard is now being applied to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict: they are supposedly helpless, they should be rescued. And your country has natural riches, big future and so on, solve this question.

How to solve? Now I am asking you. How do I solve it?

I understand from negotiations, offers of the Minsk group that they wish to solve the problem by granting Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) the status close to independence, or completely granting independence. It is seen from all offers of the Minsk group. There is nothing else. And we have disagreed with it and we can not agree.

I do not want to open our negotiations with Kocharyan. However, it is clear that they have occupied ours territories and their basic purpose, in a word, consists of that Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in any form could not be subordinated to the Azerbaijan state in the further. Their opinion is so.

I am carrying on and I will carry on these negotiations. Sometimes ago, the President of France Chirac phoned me. Because on January 26 we met there Kocharyan in private, then met three of us together. He phoned and told me that Kocharyan had come to France again. He asked to come there, to meet with him in private. On March 4, we had a meeting in private with President Kocharyan in Paris. And on March 5, three presidents - president Chirac, president Kocharyan and president of Azerbaijan will meet.

Now someone can say that France has made a decision "on genocide". Why do you go there? But these are absolutely different questions. The settlement of this question does not concern another. We have expressed and we express protest against the unfair decision of France. I have said it personally to President Chirac. At the same time, France is the co-chairman of the Minsk group. If there is any opportunity, if it is possible to achieve something, we should take advantage of it, and can not refuse it. And consequently I will go to this meeting. What will happen, I can`t say. But I want to notify that the situation is very complex.

Vilayet Guliyev said here that the Minsk group had stopped its activity. The Minsk group has not stopped its activity. For example, one of co-chairmen of the Minsk group, President Chirac deals with this question and it means that co-chairmen of the Minsk group have not stopped its activity. When we say co-chairmen of the Minsk group, we mean their representatives, but heads of states are main figures.

For example, when the Russian President Vladimir Putin came here I talked to him for two-tree hours in private in details. Then we had telephone conversations. And consequently the Minsk group has not suspended its activity now. I have repeatedly declared, the Minsk group and its co-chairmen should know that direct meetings of presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan should go in parallel with the activity of the Minsk group. It must not be considered its activity. I have repeatedly said it and once again I am saying. Thus, we should strengthen the activity of the Minsk group, and at the same time, comprehensively use our opportunities.

I spoke about the condition openly. Till now I have done everything that is possible. Not only I, naturally, our corresponding executive bodies have actively participated in this work. Milli Majlis has also participated. But, naturally, I should carry on basic part of negotiations. At the same time, negotiations are conducted by both our Minister for Foreign Affairs, and deputy Ministers for Foreign Affairs. Negotiations are conducted as well as at other levels. When representatives of our parliament visit different countries they lift these questions too. That is, all of us do it. However, the basic negotiations with the Minsk group are carried on by those who work in our executive bodies or directly by me.

What is my purpose? The condition is so. You have said to discuss it in Milli Majlis. Someone says let's create a commission. Tell me, what will do this commission, what is its capacity, which proposal it can give?

The political parties of Azerbaijan, oppositional or not oppositional, - to make a noise is not a difficult business. But time of noise has already passed. Some people were saying in pre-election campaign that they had a conception. Give your conception! You blame me that the Azerbaijani President could not solve this question within 7 years. I said to you what the condition is. You say that you can solve - give your conception. You do not give it to me, then present it to Milli Majlis. You do not give it to Milli Majlis, give it to the Minsk group. You do not give to the Minsk group, give to the United Nations Organization. Give, give and give! But anybody from you has neither conception, offer, nor idea about complexity, depth of this question.

But, despite it, today I am addressing again. I am addressing to members of Milli Majlis, to representatives of our public, in particular, to our scientists, art workers, writers, to all other intelligentsia who are the cream of Azerbaijan society. I am addressing to all political parties, even to those political parties which show the hostile attitude to me, - give your offers. If you don`t respect me, don`t respect. Give to Minsk group. If you don`t respect the parliament - it is not necessary. This is your business. Give it to the Minsk group. Bring it, as it was done by some people on television who put a paper so that it was supposedly their one concept, it was another concept. But what are these papers, only Allah knows. You can take and put this paper for five times and say that it is one concept, the second concept, the third concept, etc. If you have a concept connected with this question - submit it to the Minsk group. I will create a condition for your meeting with co-chairmen of the Minsk group. Give them in written; explain to them that this question should be solved by this way.

But some people make statements that Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) should be granted a cultural autonomy, it is impossible to grant a regional autonomy to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and etc. Let's think sensibly. They did not suffer this regional autonomy created in 1923 and in 1988 began war, aggression. So much blood was shed and our lands were occupied, whether it is possible to return them to that regional autonomy now? It is impossible.

Some people say that it is necessary to wage war; we should have a strong army. Azerbaijan has a strong army. Some times, I discussed this question in our Security Council. Azerbaijan has a strong army. It is possible to wage war. But is it necessary? Who is the supporter of war, let write what will happen as a result of this war?

First, we have seven districts under occupation besides Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh). People live in tents. How much time, how much blood is required for clearing each occupied district. Secondly, who will accept war in world community now? Thirdly, from very beginning, the world community thinks that Azerbaijanis have killed Armenians there. And if now we begin war, they will say, yes, Azerbaijanis now want to kill Armenians as before. But I do not avoid war. If all our society comes to a conclusion, substantiate it, and define concrete strategy of the people who wish to wage war that it is necessary to wage war, how to wage war, our army has a force. Don`t worry at all.

Some people say let`s create strong army for five-ten years and then we will begin. And some people say let's freeze this question. How much to freeze it? Suppose we freeze the question for five years. Should poor refugees live in tents more five years? And what will we do then?

Some people have such an opinion that the economy in Armenia is in very heavy condition, people leave the country, etc. There is a certain truth in it. Economy of Armenia is in heavy condition. But economy of Georgia is in heavier condition. The economy of our country is at a high level, everybody, experts of the world, representatives of international organizations approve it. Two days ago I received heads of the European Union, they have all information. How many times we have to wait for a collapse of the economy of Armenia, completely collapse of Armenia, Mountainous Garabag (Nagorno-Karabakh) and then we will go and seize these places? How much we have to wait? If there is such an opinion, substantiate it as well. That is, I am ready to consider each offer with all my seriousness, full responsibility. And therefore, I informed you on all of these.

The purpose of today's discussion must consist of proposals. I ask when you speak, touch upon neither history, guiltiness of anybody, nor reason of anything. Let all these remain aside. It is the work of the future. What is necessary today? It is necessary to release occupied lands. It is necessary to release at least occupied regions around Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

Perhaps, I did not think that I would speak in such greater detail. However, anyway, I suppose that this question is so difficult that there was a need for my detailed information about it. I am waiting for proposals from you. I am waiting for help from you. I wish our people to unite, join hands and solve this question. Thank you.