Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, at the VII summit of the heads of Turkic states – Istanbul, April 26, 2001

Distinguished Mr. Chairman!

Distinguished heads of states!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I am confident that the meeting will be successful and will reach the set goals and eventually it will be a milestone of cooperation of our countries and nations.

I am hopeful for a successful meeting that will reach its goal and change into a step in the road of cooperation of our nations.

I cordially thank Ahmet Nejdet Sezer, President of Turkish Republic, my friend, brother, government of Turkey and his people for hosting this important meeting.

I should note with great pleasure that years after the first summit of the heads of Turkic states held in 1992 in Ankara, our unity has made advancements and got strengthened despite hardships.

Ties among our nations have broadened and our cooperation has yielded a result during the past years.

I am confident that a new century will be the century of stability, dynamic growth, constructive political dialogue, cooperation of mutual benefit and social progress and welfare for our states. We shall achieve all this by means of strengthening of our historical achievements, national freedom, independence and joint cooperation.

The VII summit, which we attend today, once more confirms that after gaining independence, multilateral cooperation among our nations have given its positive results from the point of view of restoration of our joint culture, traditions, history and national values at the first hand, and opened new perspectives for the future.

Turkic states are located at a very important geographic region in the world. They enjoy suitable position, rich natural and human resources with high intellect. Our people possess centuries-long traditions of statehood, rich culture and high humanistic qualities.

At the outset of the past century, our prominent figures launched the slogan of “unity in language, point of view and deed” in order to move Turkic peoples close to each other and make them a political, economic and cultural power. After this long and hard struggle, we could make great adancements in this direction only at the end of the 20th century. Undoubtedly, at the present, mutual cooperation of the heads of Turkic states and their regular contacts will increase our achievements.

A number of noble traditions have been funded as a result of our meetings. Among them, anniversaries of our genius peoples, coryphaeus of our cultures, our grandious epos that are the jewls of the human civilization along with remarkable historical events of our people maintain important places.

Celebrations of anniversaries of 1000 of “Manas”, 660 of Amir Teymur, 500 of Mohammad Fuzuly, 150 of Abay Kunanbayev, and 1300 of “Kitabi- of Dada-Gorgud” epos mainly in the framework of the Turkic summit broadened the scope of these meetings.

The main goal of the joint celebrations of such jubilees is to return century-long traditions of our peoples to present-day generations and to demonstrate to the world that we are from the same root and history.

On the other hand, by holding such events, we clearly demonstrate that creation of Avicenna, Nizami, Yunus Emre, Fuzuli, Mahtumgulu, Abay and our other geniuses, immortal eposes such as “Kitabi-Dada Gorgud”, “Manas”, “Alpamish” belong not only to our peoples, but to the whole humanity as well. 

Along with unshakable historic ties, similarity of our goals and hardships that we face are strong factors that unite our peoples.

With great satisfaction I would like to point out that as a result of the summits held in the capitals of our fraternal nations by rotation from 1992, bilateral relations of the Turkic countries were boosted, high-level meetings were held, negotiations were conducted, mutual visits were paid to friendly states and a number of important inter-governmental agreements were signed.

These agreements serve to strengthening of independence of our nations and raise welfare of our peoples.

A close communication and friendly relations have been established among Heads of Turkic states. This assists to resolve a number of hard and complex issues with joint efforts. As a result of this, our countries successfully cooperate in the framework of a number of big international projects.   

Today, one of the projects that unite all of us is extraction of energy resources in the Caspian region and establishment of infrastructures to deliver them to the world market.

Since 1994, as a result of steady energy strategy pursued by Azerbaijan, a famous “Contract of the Century” has been signed with a consortium represented by big oil companies of the world and the Caspian region became a long-term cooperation region for the exploration of the energy resources. Namely after this, efforts made to find out carbohydrates reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan had confirmed that there were rich deposits there.

Thus, as a result of this policy of Azerbaijan, the Caspian basin has become into a geographical and political region as one of the most attractive energy resources with perspectives where the world focuses on.     

The Caspian littoral states enjoy their own sectors rich with energy resources and proper rights deriving from this. Using these opportunities, we can transform the Caspian basin into the zone of economic prosperity and take our deserved place in the world by taking active part in implementation of joint multilateral projects. I hope that the Istanbul meeting will stimulate this cooperation more.   

Undoubtedly, rich natural resources which our countries possess and their suitable geographic locationjs gain political advantages to our countries, along with economic benefits.

Joint exploration of energy resources, construction of oil and gas pipelines for access to the world market will integrate interests of our states to the interests of the advanced nations of the world and be a guarantor of the security, stability and prosperity of the region. 

It is noteworthy that implementation of an immense project connected with the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main pipeline, considered as a model of international cooperation, started with Ankara Declaration, signed during the celebration of the 75th jubilee of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1998.

Historic Istanbul Agreement signed in November 1999, connected with the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline during the OSCE summit, must be considered a great success in the path of the future development of our countries and security and prosperity of our region.

Projects of TRASECA and restoration of the Great Silk Road which play important roles in revival of the economies of the Turkic states should be especially noted. Having the program of TRASECA carried out and European-Caucasus-Asian transport corridor become into reality, we both create opportunities for economic growth and new jobs, and strengthen conditions for peace and stability in our region.

 An international conference on restoration of the historic Great Silk Road held in Baku on September 7-8, 1998, under the auspices of the European Union with participation of 32 nations and 15 international organizations has been of great importance.   

As a result of the restoration of the Great Silk Road and implementation of the TRASECA program, a corridor, starting from the area of the European Union, stretching to the Central Asia via the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, will link East and West, Europe and Asia. Turkic states are key players in realization of this project.

A conference held in April 1999 in the United States with participation of heads of states of the Great Silk Road, high officials of the US administration, members of the Congress, once more confirmed our common goal and desire to actively participate in restoration of the Great Silk Road.

The end of the 20th century is remarkable with events which have changed the geographical and political view of the world. Achievement of independence by our people and their choosing democratic way of development opens new pages in our history.   

Along with fraternal Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan also celebrated its 10th year of independence. I am very proud to say that the Republic of Azerbaijan has guarded its independence and successfully continued integration into the world community.

Despite some hardships, Azerbaijan has been accepted as a full member of the Council of Europe, one of the prestigious international organizations, thus proving that it belongs to the common European family.

But along with listed successes, the newly independent states face unresolved problems, threatening their independence and sovereignty in this or another way.

Threats of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism in the world have not diminished, on the contrary, increased. Namely because of the aggression of neighbor Armenia, its unjust territorial claims against Azerbaijan, the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict broke out in 1988.

First, because of indifference of the former soviet authority, then the world community, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan has been under occupation of the Armenian armed forces nearly for 10 years. More than one million Azerbaijanis, who have been expelled from their native lands, still languish in tent camps as refugees under unbearable conditions so far.

Yet in 1993, the United Nations adopted four resolutions on the conflict. Although the resolutions demand unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories, Armenia has not complied with them until today.

Steadily pursuing peaceful policy, Azerbaijan endeavor to fair settlement of the conflict according to the principles of the territorial integrity of the states recognized by the international community, liberation of the occupied territories by Armenia, and return of the refugees and IDPs to their homes. 

 A ceasefire agreement has been signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan in May 1994 and it is obeyed so far. The OSCE Minsk group co-chairs, Russia, the US and France make efforts for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. But Armenia’s non-compliance with the international law and its unconstructive position in the negotiation process does not allow to the settlement of the conflict.

 Direct meetings have taken place between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the last two years, in order to make breakthrough in the settlement of the conflict. It has been stated that mutual compromises are necessary to achieve peace.

Recently, negotiation process between the president of Azerbaijan and his Armenian counterpart has been intensified. On January 25-26 and March 4-5, 2001, the issue of the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been discussed in Paris via mediation of the French president Jacques Chirac.

  On April 3-6, 2001, in Key-West, Florida of the United States, discussions between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents have been continued at the initiative and participation by Colin Powel, the US Secretary of State and mediation of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen. After the negotiations, presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia met the US president George W. Bush in Washington. Next peace negotiations will take place in June of the current year in Switzerland.

We hope that peace negotiations will eventually yield their result and we shall achieve restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and return of refugees and IDPs to their homes.

 Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan was a hard blow to our people. We do our best to eliminate this conflict. I suppose that everybody must take his own lesson from the situation in which we are. Every military aggression must be prevented in time and the international community must take the most decisive steps to halt it.

The international community, as well as the Union of Turkic States must work together to prevent separatism, terrorism and religious extremism.

These challenges exist not only in the South Caucasus, but in other regions as well. The activities of various religious extremist groups in Central Asia, primarily in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, human loss as a result of their separatist and terrorist actions have been met with justifiable concerns in Azerbaijan as well. 

All this once more indicates that we must conduct more vigorous common struggle and combine our efforts against irreconcilable separatism and religious extremism, which threaten the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders of the nations.

I want to bring to your attention that the Republic of Azerbaijan first of all made a proposal in Istanbul summit of OSCE to adopt a pact on security and stability in the South Caucasus. Our initiative is aimed at liberation of region from foreign troops, denounce of the aggression and policy of ethnic cleansing and prevention of separatism and terrorism.

We applaud the efforts of the Turkish Republic for the establishment of the Pact of Caucasus which shall result in establishment of peace and stability in the region. We have to join our efforts for realization of these proposals. We can prevent threats, only in this way.

Distinguished heads of states! Ladies and gentlemen! 

We fully support all the provisions of the Istanbul Declaration drafted during the meeting.

We approve the idea of establishment of the permanent secretariat of the summit of the heads of Turkic states to be resided in Turkey.

I am confident that the VII summit of the Union of the Turkic States will contribute to strengthening of our friendship and brotherhood, and boost multilateral relations among Turkic states and peoples.

Thank you for your attention.

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