Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at the meeting in the Permanent Representation of the Azerbaijan Republic in Moscow, on January 21, 1990 dedicated to the tragic events in Baku of January 20, 1990

Dear patriots, Ladies and gentlemen!

As you know, I was the first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee of Azerbaijan for many years, a member of the CPSU Central Committee and acted as the first Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of USSR. It is over two years since I retired, I had a serious heart attack that caused my retirement. It is the first time since December 1982, when I left Azerbaijan, that I have come to the Permanent Representation of the Azerbaijan Republic in Moscow and it is the tragedy in Azerbaijan made me come here. I heard about it yesterday and could not remain indifferent to what had happened in Azerbaijan. First of all, I have come here, to the Representation, which is just a small island of Azerbaijan in Moscow, to express my condolences to the Azerbaijan people in connection with the tragic event entailing horrible consequences, deaths of my compatriots. Secondly, I would like to express my atti­tude with respect to this matter. I am requesting the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan in Moscow Zohrab Ibrahimov to pass my words of deep sorrow and my sincere condolences to the people of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, it is the only thing that I can do at this time.

Referring to the events taken place in Azerbaijan, I consider them to be illegal, hostile to democracy, totally contradicting the principles of humanism and the establishment of the legitimate state. There are certain reasons why this situation developed in Azerbaijan. I would not like to go into details, it would take too much time. The notorious ethnic conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has been going on for two years already. This conflict has arisen in connection with the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh and around it. Two years is quite a long time for the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the top officials of the party and political leaders of the country to settle this matter, to stop the intestine con­flicts, ethnic conflicts and to allow all people to live a free life, irrespective of their nationality in our common Federative Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

However, to my opinion, necessary measures in this respect have not been taken for the past two years.

Had there been taken necessary measures by the top party leadership in the country over the Nagorno-Karabakh events in right time, we would not now observe the escalation of the tension and losses on both sides and that military assault undertaken over the night from 19 to 20 January 1990 that brought heavy losses.

For all that, the former first secre­tary of Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party Abdurahman Vezirov is to be blamed.

Being in the top leadership of the Republic, he practically did nothing to stabilize the situation in Azerbaijan. On the contrary, by his attitude and manner of work, political maneuvers, he opposed himself to people, could not inspire trust, and created a gap between himself and people. People were indignant.

At the meetings held lasting for months in Baku and in other towns and regions of the Republic, there were demands made for the party leaders of Azerbaijan to resign, and that especially concerned Vezirov. It seems strange that this problem had not been solved up to now. Only yesterday, after military troops were brought into the city and massacre was carried out, Vezirov escaped from Azerbaijan. It is a serious mistake. But the fatal mistake was to appoint this man, inappropriate for the position, the first secretary of Central Committee of Azerbaijan Communist Party. However, it is not the main point.

I would like to talk in detail about tragic event that happened over the night of 20th of January and is still going on. I think there was too much opportunities to settle the political instability and take control over the situation in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately the leaders of Azerbaijan and top political leaders of the country did not make use of all the opportunities. The incident on the borders could have been prevented. People expressed their demands in connection with frontier line three months ago. But nobody wished to meet them, or see what was the way out.

I would like to say it again: there still were possi­bilities to calm people then. If 2-3 months ago the prob­lem of the party leadership in Azerbaijan had been strengthened, then maybe the situation in the country would be stabilized and there would not have been a neces­sity to bring military troops in. I still think that political solution was possible, but the possibilities were not used, and as a result, the internal regular troops of the Soviet Army and Ministry of Defense were brought to Baku over the night of 20-th of January. Tragic consequences of this action are well known. I regard this decision as a great political mistake. They were not able to assess the actual sit­uation in the Republic and the peculiarities of the Azerbaijani people's psychology, they were not in contact with different circles of the public and, thus, could not fore­see the consequences.

Such consequences should have been foreseen, and the preventive measures should have been taken. By the way, there was information that among the victims, there were many servicemen. It may be questioned: why should Russian fellows, be accused who were sent by the wrongful decision of the top party leaders, to suppress the so-called revolt in Azerbaijan? A large army contingent was brought to Azerbaijan. Should so many troops have been brought to Azerbaijan? I am well informed how many troops had been stationed in Azerbaijan. There have been dislocat­ed quite many troops; the Fourth Army, the Caspian Military Navy, landing forces, air-defense troops, internal troops of the Ministry of Defense. Was there any real need to bring additional troops in here? If the need be, the troops which already existed there could have been used. The leaders of Azerbaijan, who took such a decision, in first place A.Vezirov, if the worst comes to the worst ran away from Azerbaijan should bear responsibility. Those who misinformed the country's top political leaders should also bear responsibility. I think that top political leaders of the country did not have access to the exact, true and objective information in good time. The country leaders were misled and as a result such decision was taken. Those who created this slaughter must be chastised properly.
The document was taken from the edition "Heydar Aliyev New Political Course"