From the talk of Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, during the meeting with the delegation of the European Centre of Political Researches - Presidential Palace, July 17, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Dear friends, ambassadors and guests, I`m very glad to see you. Welcome to Azerbaijan! You have visited us for ages. Finally you could find time to come here.

My friend Suleyman Demirel has informed me about the topic of our talks. He told me that there was such an initiative, and a meeting was necessary. I said that I was always ready. Now I`m listening to you.

Ozdem Sanberk (Ex-advisor of the Turkish Foreign Minister and ex-ambassador of Turkey to London, director of the Foundation of the Turkish Economical and Social Researches): Mr. President, let me convey you the greetings of Mr. Suleyman Demirel, first.

I want to say that our delegation is not official. Mr. Michael Emerson and Romanian ex-Foreign Minister Sergiu Celak are co-chairs of the research center under the European Union. However, this centre is not subordinate to the European Union. Mr. Nihad Gokyigit is a businessman, chairman of the Board of "Tekfen Holding", member of the working council of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. The foundation that I am the director of is not subordinate to our government either. Governments make decisions and we try to assist them with our ideas.

The Caucasus is of great importance for the security of Turkey. Azerbaijan and Turkey are brother nations. Why is the situation in the Caucasus unstable? Because the international law norms have been violated here. Armenia has occupied a part of the territory of Azerbaijan and driven one million Azerbaijanis out of their homes violating the norms of international law. The world community has forgotten this and the violation of the international law. Who else would speak about it other than we? The Armenian aggression to Azerbaijan is the same like the Iraqi aggression to Kuwait.

We want the implementation of the norms of the international law. Now it seems that an appropriate situation is emerging for the restoration of stability in the Caucasus. In the December of 1999, an opportunity was given to Turkey to become a full member in the European Union. Of course, this event is of great significance, because if Turkey becomes a full member of the European Union, its neighbors- the Caucasus, also Azerbaijan will border with the European Union.

On January 15, 2000 Mr. Demirel initiated the "Pact on Stability in the Caucasus". Before that the Azerbaijani President Mr. Aliyev made a significant speech in the OSCE summit in Istanbul. Later the leaders of the great powers, such as Russia, the USA and the EU countries disclosed their views on stability in the Caucasus.

The European Centre of Political Researches has developed proposals being inspired from these declarations. Turkey accepts some of the proposals, but doesn`t agree with others. But those proposals can be used for researches. We must emphasize that this initiative cannot substitute the Minsk Group. Turkey would never accept the variant of solution that Azerbaijan doesn`t agree with.

Turkey doesn`t agree with the current situation in the conflict which is status-quo. The present situation cannot continue long. But unless we do anything, the situation would remain. Therefore, Mr. President, we ask you to value our thoughts from this point of view. Both Mr. Demirel and the European Centre of Political Researches have their proposals within this frame. They can complete each other. Mr. President, in order to continue these researches, we wish you to lead us. That`s the goal of our visit.

Mr. President, we also wish the Azerbaijani NGOs, staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of the scientific circles to cooperate with us and go to Turkey and Brussels.

Now Mr. Nihad Gokyigit wants to express his thoughts.

Nihad Gokyigit: Mr. President, I am a businessman, but now I am engaged in political affairs. I want people to understand these issues better. If people understand these initiatives and support them, it would help politicians as well. The business world demands stability. In spite of all difficulties, business can go on. But stability is the main factor for expansion of works. Business and stability are the factors that complete each other mutually.

Capital investment on the energy corridor of the Southern Caucasus will continue. Except the energy sector, which is the main sector, a number of other projects such as - air- and seaports, roads are also in the agenda. This corridor is of great significance for the European Union, too. Thus, I got engaged in these issues as I told above. The business world has its own excitement and dynamics.

Yesterday we met the Georgian President Mr. Shevardnadze in Tbilisi, today we meet you in Baku. We want to contribute to politics as businessmen.

Michael Emerson (Co-chair of the European Centre of Political Researches): Mr. President, our documents have comments in Turkish, too. Here we present them to you. There is information on it in Russian in my book. The first six points of those documents reflect the kernel of our proposals.

We learnt attentively the speech made by you in the OSCE summit last November. At the same time, we learned also the other speeches, especially ones made by President Demirel, President Shevardnadze and President Kocharyan. Later a strong impetus to our work came from the OSCE. The OSCE wanted us to develop a broad work schedule and an activity program for the realization of the ideas arisen in those speeches.

When we summarize the results of our researches we pay our attention to three main issues. These issues are directly related to the Southern Caucasus. The next three problems require the countries around the Southern Caucasus to join this process. The first three issues that are vital for the Southern Caucasus are solution of conflicts, cooperation between the countries and their later integration, development of security guarantees in the Southern Caucasus.

We tried to determine succession and relation between the issues which are also significant separately. We came to such a conclusion that the solution of the conflicts, especially the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is the most important among them. Thus, when developing all these proposals we took into consideration such a thing that even though the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will not be solved soon, still a progress in its solution between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be achieved in the nearest future.

We have disclosed our opinion on the post-conflict regime and determine the work to be done in this field.

Within the frames of the proposed program we imply the expansion of cooperation between the countries of the Southern Caucasus on the state and government level in the first stage. In the next stage it is implied to determine the forms of the integration of the region and cooperation with the European structures. Undoubtedly, we don`t forget the issue on the admission of Turkey to the European Union and take into consideration its importance.

We think also of the security guarantees for the countries of the region. Though there are no obligations of NATO on the security in the first period, we think that we should get special security guarantees for the countries of the region from the OSCE and elaborate all them as a written document.

In the second section of our program we recommend elaboration of cooperation mechanisms between Russia, the Northern Caucasus and the European Union.

For the next stages we recommend the establishment of a cooperation forum among countries of the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Caspian region outside the frames of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization in which Azerbaijan is a member.

Finally, we have proposals on the speedy and efficient use of the oil and gas resources of the region. I don`t want to speak much about this topic, because you have a great experience in this field.

Mr. President, taking into consideration our work on the program related to the pact on security in the Southern Caucasus and the negotiations with the leaders of the Western countries we can say that this issue is supported by the governments of the Western countries. It is possible to realize this project thanks to your leadership. It is possible to realize technical assistant, too. But we must determine following steps. But we consider that before taking these steps, it is necessary to get acquainted with the opinions and concrete projects of other heads of states, to summarize them. Together we should convince the Western countries that realization of such a program is possible and it will profit the region.

Mr. President, yesterday when we met President Shevardnadze he initiated the formation of a working group consisting of the representatives of government, state and non-state structures and experts to study the proposals submitted by us and cooperate with us closely. He raised another issue- if the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents form such working groups, we can cooperate with the European structures together and reach an agreement on all critical issues.

Sergiu Chelak: Mr. President, I don`t have much to say. On June 14 Michael Emerson and I submitted this project to the embassy of the OSCE in Vienna as its own proposal.

This project is being materialized by the initiative of three co-chairs of OSCE - Norway, Austria and Romania former, current and future co-chairs of OSCE.

As a result of our researches the current co-chair of OSCE charged the regional structures of the organization to negotiate with the local governments, to learn their views in relations to the proposal and to submit additional proposals and to get engaged in the development of the project.

We think that we must organize a seminar this September as the first step. During that seminar Michael Emerson and I will present the project. This seminar will be organized and financed by OSCE.

We understand that OSCE is a weak organization. But sometimes weakness has positive sides, too. Sometimes weakness makes a person become more diplomatic and use wisdom instead of power. We`ve joined this project as independent scientists. The other people who work on the pact of stability in the Southern Caucasus are also independent scientists like us.

Mr. President, our project was supported also by Terry Adams who is your friend and always emphasizes this friendship proudly.

All the signals we have got make us conclude that the time for the solution of such serious conflicts is coming. For more intensive activity the Minsk Group needs an impetus. For the realization of the stability pact and solution of conflicts, an additional impetus and support from the regional states and governments are necessary.

We don`t think that the stability pact is a substitute for the solution of the conflict. We just share the opinion on the future destiny of the region and steps to be made after the solution of the conflicts. It is necessary to think about this, and the stability pact will also serve these purposes. I agree with my colleague and friend Ambassador Sanberk that there will be some issues we agree with and some we don`t. Neither Michael Emerson nor I represent any country, even our own countries. We have just tried to unite all the efforts and elaborate a document general in nature and conduct additional exchange of views. Undoubtedly, the final decision will be made by you only.

Heydar Aliyev: I am very glad that you all are engaged in the problem which is important for the Caucasus, especially the Southern Caucasus. Stability has been violated in the Southern Caucasus for the recent 12 years. At first, it was connected with the war that broke out in 1988 as a result of the Armenian territorial claims to Azerbaijan, and with the Abkhazian and Ossetian conflicts in Georgia. The second one is related to the situation in the Northern Caucasus, Chechnya and the war there.

All these have violated stability in the Caucasus. Naturally, the Caucasian nations, also the neighboring countries want the restoration of stability in this region. Because it`s necessary for all the vital fields of our life. Thus, it is remarkable that you are engaged in this issue as a NGO, a research centre.

You are aware that in my speech in the OSCE summit in Istanbul last November I proposed the establishment of a pact on peace, security and stability in the Southern Caucasus and invited all the countries interested in the removal of this problem, in the solution of the issue.

President of Turkey Mr. Suleyman Demirel suggested a broader proposal then. As I know, 2-3 months ago he sent letters for the establishment of peace, security and stability in the Southern Caucasus to the heads of states of 14 countries and expressed his opinion. I have got such a letter, too. I have spoken to Mr. Demirel on this issue over the phone several times. Mr. Demirel told me that all the heads of states reacted to his letters positively.

Thus, all the countries that have interests in this region want peace, security and stability in the Caucasus, also the Southern Caucasus, and they are ready to increase their efforts in this field. Therefore, I support your activity and initiative in this field.

I want to say that it is not an easy problem, but also easy at the same time. Because there is one condition for the realization of this program and the intended proposals. It is the solution of the conflicts in the Southern Caucasus in the first place.

You know that the Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory 12 years ago. More than one million Azerbaijanis were driven out of their homes and they have been living in tents in hard conditions for 7-8 years.

There was a war and much blood. But we could stop the war six years ago- in May 1994. A ceasefire agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. For more than six years there has been no war, no blood - the ceasefire regime continues. But the conflict has not been solved yet. The current situation has been continuing since May 12, 1994 up to now.

I declare again that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated; 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory is under the occupation of the Armenian armed forces. The people who lived in the occupied territories are refugees now.

For six years we have been trying to achieve peace with the mediation of the Minsk Group of OSCE, its co-chairs - Russia, the USA, France, other international organizations and countries. In order to achieve peace, the Armenian armed forces must leave the occupied lands of Azerbaijan, the territorial integrity of our country must be restored and over one million Azerbaijani citizens must return home.

But we cannot achieve it. Because the Armenian position is non-constructive. Using the opportunity of the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, Armenia wants independence for Nagorno-Karabakh. In this case Azerbaijan loses some part of its territory. On this condition Armenia declares that it is ready to liberate the occupied districts around Nagorno-Karabakh. We cannot agree with such a condition. Because there are the norms of the international law, the principles of OSCE. No country would allow the violation of its territorial integrity. Thus, the conflict hasn`t been solved yet.

The Abkhazian and Ossetian conflicts in Georgia haven`t been solved either. The people of the Georgian origin were forced to leave Abkhazia. However, the conflict in Georgia is domestic. The conflict in Azerbaijan is a conflict between two independent states, members of the United Nations.

Therefore, for the realization of all these programs, the proposal of Mr. Suleyman Demirel, the proposal suggested by me in the OSCE summit in Istanbul and your ideas, Armenia must liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and over one million Azerbaijani citizens must return home. As we have declared repeatedly and it has been reflected in the OSCE summit in Lisbon Nagorno-Karabakh could be given high self-administration status within Azerbaijan.

Unless we achieve them, we cannot even talk about stability in the Southern Caucasus. There were some direct meetings between me and the Armenian President Robert Kocharyan last year. We tried to have a progress in the process and solve the issue. We declared that we must make a compromise. I declared my readiness. So did the Armenian President. Unfortunately, our negotiations stopped after the terror act in Armenia on October 27.

You know that the chairman of the Armenian parliament, some deputies and the Armenian Premier were assassinated by terrorists then.

The current chairperson-in-office of the OSCE who is the Foreign Minister of Austria is in Armenia since yesterday and will come to Azerbaijan this evening. The goal of this visit is to learn the opinions of Armenia and Azerbaijan fir the solution of this issue. He disclosed to me his thoughts on it when I was on an official visit to Austria. I don`t know with which information he will return from here. Anyway, we are ready to make compromises. But Armenia also must compromise and there must be a definite frame of these compromises. Unless this issue is solved, none of all these programs can be realized.

There is good a cooperation between Azerbaijan and Georgia in all fields, including the economic sphere. There is also a good cooperation between Armenia and Georgia in all fields. However, the cooperation of the three states of the Southern Caucasus is impossible now. I cannot agree with the opinion of my friend Mr. Nihad Gokyigit on it. It is not a new idea. Some countries have offered us to continue economic relations, to trade with Armenia in order to achieve mutual trust and peace.

Armenia has also made such proposals. I see that there are such ideas in your program, too. Mr. Nihad Gokyigit thinks that such things must be done in parallel. I don`t agree with it. We can never agree with it. Why? We can never cooperate with Armenia when 20 percents of the Azerbaijani territory is under occupation, over one million Azerbaijani citizens live in tents, there is no peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

I am aware that the Armenian economy suffers difficulties, it needs such a cooperation. We don`t mind. But we must achieve peace. We can cooperate when peace is reached. How can two belligerent states cooperate, unless peace is reached? Neither our nation, nor I could agree with it.

You know that the borders between Turkey and Armenia are closed; there are no diplomatic and trade relations. Armenia strives to have economic cooperation with Turkey. My friend Mr. Gokyigit has some initiatives on it, too. Once I protested to him.

But the policy of Turkey is that until the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is solved, the Armenian armed forces liberate the occupied lands, over one million Azerbaijani citizens return their homes Turkey won`t open its borders with Armenia and other roads, and there will be no trade with Armenia. Turkey has declared it several times.

The ninth President of Turkey Mr. Suleyman Demirel has declared it not once. The new President of Turkey Mr. Ahmet Nejdat Sezer made such a declaration again while being on an official visit to Azerbaijan recently. In some places near the borders of Turkey, for example in Gars the head of the municipality and some others express are opening the borders and establishment of trade relations. However, my friend Mr. Suleyman Demirel replied them while being on visit to Gars: "We can never sacrifice the position of our Azerbaijani brothers for some money."

You also should know our position clearly. Formation of a pact on peace, security and stability can be realized as soon as the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is solved, peace is achieved and the occupied lands of Azerbaijan are liberated.

Five-six months ago the USA proposed establishment of the Southern Caucasus economic forum. What does it mean? It means, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia establish an economic forum and cooperate. We protested against this proposal and didn`t agree with its realization.

Your initiative is remarkable. You must know which issue is real, which not? I thank that your staff consists of members of NGOs, scientists and experienced persons. For example, I know that Ozdem Sanberk is a very skilled politician and diplomat. So are Mr. Emerson and Romanian ex-Foreign Minister Sergiu Celak. Mr. Nihad Gokyigit says that he is a businessman, not a politician. But he is a very experienced person and my friend.

Your experience and activity are very necessary for us. I say once again that I support your initiative. I also express my own ideas. I thank you.

Nihad Gokyigit: Mr. President, I want to tell you my opinion on it. We haven`t established any relations with Armenia, we don`t cooperate with them and won`t.

Heydar Aliyev: It`s good that you haven`t established.

Nihad Gokyigit: We learn the difficulties that Azerbaijan and Armenia face. We have informed Armenia repeatedly about the relations of foreign businessmen with Azerbaijan, the work done in Azerbaijan.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, as you see the Baku-Supsa pipeline is already in use.

Nihad Gokyigit: I say once again that we`ll cooperate with Azerbaijan in all the fields.

Heydar Aliyev: That`s good.

Nihad Gokyigit: Turkey has its correct foreign policy on the relations with Armenia. We act inconformity with the policy of our state - we have to do as it demands.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, you are right.

Nihad Gokyigit: We follow this policy; our activity can never contradict this policy. That`s all I want to say. We`ll continue our activity in this field.

Heydar Aliyev: Nice. Thank you.