Statement of Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the press-conference, held soon after the OSCE Lisbon Summit - December 3, 1996

Ladies and gentlemen! The meeting of the OSCE Lisbon Summit has just come ended. The Azerbaijani delegation is satisfied with all decisions of Lisbon Summit on all problems. We consider that another big step was taken towards the establishment of security and cooperation in Europe

I have come to the meeting with you for revealing the position of Azerbaijan the issue directly related with Azerbaijan and the region in whole.

You may know that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is lasting as long as 8 years. The Republic of Armenia started this conflict with the purpose to detach Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and annex it to Armenia. The OSCE Minsk group was established in 1992 in order to settle the conflict. The Azerbaijani party adheres the way of peaceful settlement of the conflict: an agreement on cease-fire was signed in May, 1994. This agreement is still being respected on our behalf. Of course, we pinned and still we are pinning big hopes on the OSCE.

During the process of the preparation for the OSCE Lisbon Summit we submitted our proposals for their inclusion to the declaration of Lisbon Summit on Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. For instance, we have been trying to insert the main principles related to all the OSCE member countries, including Azerbaijan, to be reflected exactly in the OSCE documents. As a result of the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was violated, some 20 percent of our territory was occupied by the armed forces of Armenia and 1 million of Azerbaijanis living in these territories were expelled. They live in the regions of our Republic in tent camps and in very hard conditions. We think that recognition of the territorial integrity which is one of the main OSCE principles would facilitate the settlement of the conflict. The Republic of Armenia that undertook the aggression against Azerbaijan, refuses to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and naturally, it creates difficulties for the negotiation process.

The formula of the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was indicated at the draft document submitted by Minsk Group co-chairs at the last Helsinki meeting of the OSCE Minsk Group held on November 19-22. The similar document was submitted by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Mr. Flavio Cotti in February this year. The draft consists of three articles: territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, granting the self-determination status based on the principle of autonomy and self-governance to Nagorno-Karabakh within the Republic of Azerbaijan, and a guarantee of security to all people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Although the Azerbaijani party was not satisfied completely with this draft, it was entirely rejected by Armenian party at the meeting of Minsk group held in Helsinki. This draft was included in the draft statement of the OSCE Lisbon summit as Article 20. However, Armenian party, in defiance of the OSCE main principles, didn`t give consensus to this Article. Therefore, the Republic of the Azerbaijan had to refuse to give the consensus to entire text, of the Lisbon Summit Declaration in the course of all meetings and discussions held before and during Lisbon Summit.

It caused a great anxiety of the OSCE members, because in this condition summit could end without adoption of any document. You know that OSCE has the principle of consensus. Consequently, the Republic of Azerbaijan made use of this right and didn`t give consensus to the entire document, the entire declaration of the Summit. Therefore, the heads of the OSCE member countries and representatives of their delegations launched intensive negotiations with the delegation of Azerbaijan yesterday, today and even the day before yesterday. They asked us to withdraw our veto from the entire text of the Summit declaration. However, we have explained our position. During all meetings and discussions our counterparts pointed out the rightfulness of our actions. On our turn, we explained that our actions were in total conformity with the OSCE principles. The denial of Armenian party to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan means denial of the OSCE main principles.

In the course of intensive negotiations held yesterday and today, the representatives of the OSCE member countries, the Minsk Group and the European Union, as well as the OSCE Chair-in-Office proposed different alternate variants to meet our demands. The Azerbaijani delegation didn`t give consensus to the final document of the Summit until the last meeting. At this meeting sounded a proposal that Flavio Cotti, the OSCE Chair-in-Office would make a declaration on behalf of all the OSCE member-countries and those three principles to eliminate the conflict would be confirmed in this document. I said that in this case we would be ready to withdraw our veto from the entire text of the final document of the Summit. At the last meeting Flavio Cotti, the OSCE Chair-in-Office made a declaration and said that he regreted that no progress was made on the settlement of  Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and he thought it possible to settle this conflict on the basis of these three principles: recognition of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, conferring the self-determination principle based status of autonomy and self-governance to Nagorno-Karabakh within the Republic of Azerbaijan and offering a guarantee of security to all people of Nagorno-Karabakh. It was noted in the declaration of Mr.Flavio Cotti that all the OSCE member countries excepting one country accepted and supported these principles. In other words, the declaration of Chair-in-Office reflected the will of all summit participants - the OSCE member-countries except Armenia.

Of course, since this declaration supported the position of Azerbaijan to some extent, I withdrew the veto of Azerbaijan from the final document of Lisbon summit and gave consensus for the adoption of this document. We are pleased that the declaration of Flavio Cotti was made on behalf of all OSCE member-countries, except Armenia. We are also pleased that this declaration was supported on behalf of European Union. The head of the delegation of Russian Federation, Prime-Minister of Russia Mr.Chernomyrdin, co-chair of Minsk Group, president of Finland Mr. Ahtisaari and representatives of some other delegation made speeches and supported this declaration.

Thus, the Summit came to the end by adoption of the final document. We are pleased that the OSCE Summit supported the main the OSCE principles for the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, especially from the viewpoint of the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan once again.

I know that there were news in media in connection with our position, as though Azerbaijan inhibited adoption of the final document. Therefore, I thought it needed to clarify our position. This was our definite position. We gave up our position only for the reason that a declaration on behalf of the Chair-in-Office and all other Summit participants be adopted. The Chair-in-Office declared that his official written declaration was included in the proceedings of the OSCE Lisbon Summit.

That was what I wanted to say. Now, I am ready to answer your questions.

Question: Mr. President, did you meet the UK Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind this morning? Could you say a few words about this meeting?

Answer: Yes, I have met the UK Foreign Secretary Mr.Rifkind this morning. Almost all the meeting was devoted to discussion of the issues I have told you here. Mr.  Rifkind tried to convince me that it was necessary to give consensus for the adoption of the final document of Summit. I explained our position and our viewpoints on this matter to Mr. Rifkind. I should say that as my any other colleague, Mr. Rifkind also approved that our position to be rightful and sound.

Question: Is the government of Russia ready to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh problem?

Answer: Yes, while speaking at the last meeting of the Summit today, the head of the delegation of Russian Federation, Prime Minister of Russia mister Chernomyrdin fully supported the declaration of Chair-in-Office mister Cotti and noted that the settlement of the conflict was possible only on the basis of principles mentioned in the declaration of Chair-in-Office. Thus, he made known that they were going to deal with this issue in the future also too.

Question: Mr. President, if Armenia gives permission to transport the oil of Azerbaijan through its territory to the world markets, will it gain anything in the international arena?

Answer: You know, this is an abstract question. We have projects and plans on transportation of Azerbaijani oil to the world markets. However, they have nothing to do with Armenia. I can`t understand, how are you going to correlate these issues. I don`t see mutual relation here.

Question: Mr. President, first of all let me congratulate you on behalf of all Azerbaijani journalists on the occasion of the brilliant diplomatic victory at the Lisbon Summit. Because we all have seen how Armenia remained in complete diplomatic isolation and all alone. In this relation I have a question: Will the decisions adopted at Lisbon Summit serve for reviving of negotiation process and peaceful settlement of the Garabagh problem and to what extent it will make an impact? Can we expect any progress and compromises on the part of Armenia after this?

Answer: I think that the negotiation process will continue. During my speech at the Summit I have made a similar declaration declaration. The President of Armenia made the same declaration. As for the declaration of Chair-in-Office made on behalf of all OSCE members, as to him, this was the document of Lisbon Summit and was a good basis for peaceful settlement of the problem and naturally, reviving of negotiation process.

Question: Mr. President, yesterday Levon Ter-Petrosyan during his speech at the summit said that "Armenian massacres" in Azerbaijan - Baku, Sumgait and Ganja make impossible guaranteeing of security in Nagorno-Karabakh. Is it really like that? Who is responsible for these massacres - Republic of Azerbaijan or the former Soviet Union?

Answer: The words that President Ter-Petrosyan said yesterday in his speech at the Summit are not new ones. All of them, including Ter-Petrosyan have said it repeatedly and yesterday they repeated them once again. Not going to the details of the events happened at that time I want to say that these claims are groundless and far from the reality. We can provide much more facts and evidences on massacres and genocide that Armenians undertook in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Khojali against Azerbaijanis. In the settlement of these problems it is of no importance for us who and which state bears responsibility for these massacres. I think we should look ahead and hold negotiations on the basis of principles declared today at Lisbon Summit for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and achieve the peace.

Question: Before Summit Azerbaijan and Armenia held direct negotiations and during the meeting of Mr. Ter-Petrosyan with other leaders we understood from what he said that the negotiations were interrupted and Azerbaijani party was to be blamed for that. Why Azerbaijani party interrupted those direct negotiations?

Answer: President Ter-Petrosyan doesn`t say the truth. This is not the first time that they give false information to the public. The bilateral Azerbaijani-Armenian negotiations between representatives of both Presidents are underway and the last meeting was held on November 7 in Paris. We didn`t interrupt these negotiations and we are going to continue them. During our meeting with President Levon Ter-Petrosyan we came to the same opinion that the negotiations should be continued. Vafa Guluzade, the representative of the President of Azerbaijan and Libaridyan, the representative of the President of Armenia holding negotiations were given the appropriate direct instruction.

Do you have other questions?

Thank you.