Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at Ankara University during his visit to Turkey on March 16, 2001

My dear friend, President of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Ahmed Necdet Sezer!

Esteemed rector of Ankara University!

Esteemed Senators,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends!

I am on an official visit to the Republic of Turkey at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Turkey, my dearest friend Ahmed Necdet Sezer since March 12. it is not my first visit to Turkey. I have been to Turkey several times since 1992. I made both official and business visits. All of them are significant to me. But as life changes, the views of people change as well and every new step becomes more important than the last one. Therefore, I appreciate this visit highly. First of all, we had conversations and held comprehensive and interesting meetings with honorable President and my dearest friend. We shared our views concerning the future and present state of the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations and we had the same opinion that Turkish-Azerbaijani relations develop day-by-day. They are the relations of friendship. They are the relations connected with our historical roots and national-cultural values. They are the relations in connected with our common language, religion and culture. It is the relation of one nation and two states. If we explain it in international language they are the relations of strategic cooperation. This is very important both for Turkey and Azerbaijan, because there is a crisis in world. There are complicated processes in the world. Some of these processes are going on in our region - The Caucasus, including Turkey. There are wars, conflicts and many problems to be solved. Of course, in all these processes Turkey and Azerbaijan were always together. I can say with pleasure today it has been proved that we have chosen the right way.

Our meetings were very important to me. It was especially important to me to appeal and explain my thoughts to the parliamentarians, to the representatives of people in the parliament of Turkey.

The days that I have been to Turkey are very dear to me and to the Azerbaijani people. Our meetings and talks here are broadcasted by TV in Azerbaijan. I am informed that our people watch these processes with pleasure, enthusiasm and admiration. And each of them is pleased of it. Along with our officials our people is aware of the importance of this friendship as well.

One of the main topics of our negotiations is the establishment of peace, and security and safety in the Caucasus. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan are interested in it. It is very important for our nations, the Caucasus, even for the world. But it is more important for us, Azerbaijan. As you know, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict began in 1988. Armenia made statements with different claims in 1988 in order to occupy the Mountainous Garabagh an integral and ancient part of Azerbaijan. Once Azerbaijan and Armenia were the members of the Soviet Union. But unfortunately, the administration of the Soviet Union, its officials were not leading the right policy. They were supporting Armenia more.

Lack of stability in Azerbaijan and the will of people to unite, the struggle of different people for power and use of armed groups in the country complicated the situation led to the splint of the nation. Taking the opportunity Armenians united in order to occupy the Mountainous-Garabagh putting aside all their own internal conflicts and disagreements. Therefore, Armenia occupied 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani lands, more than one million Azerbaijanis - your brothers and sisters were driven out from their homes by force, and now they have been living in tents more than 7-8 years.

We have signed an agreement on the ceasefire in 1994. We tried to solve the problem by peace. I think it was a significant event. Because we were giving sacrifices and blood was shedding. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan lost a part of its territory.

We have been holding peace negotiations since 1994. They are held by OSCE, Minsk Group. The Minsk Group consists of twelve states. One of them is Turkey. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group are Russia, the USA and France. With the help of these states and Turkey those people will return homes, the sovereignty of Azerbaijan and inviolability of boarders will be ensured in accordance with the international law. It is our main goal.

You know that the Armenians always claimed to our lands. The recent statements of the Armenians about the genocide against them in during the Ottoman Empire are fictitious. As I said it in the parliament it did not take place. Some states recognize this genocide too. But it is wrong.

Let's talk about the genocide committed by the Armenians against the Turks. In the battles in Mountainous Garabagh the armed forces of Armenia together with the 366th regiment of Russia - this regiment was located in the Mountainous Garabagh then - murdered the residents of Khojali within one night. That is what we call genocide. If they talk about the "genocide" committed 85 years ago, then this is the genocide committed against the Azerbaijanis and the Turks at the end of XX century. Therefore, we have the right to talk about genocide committed against us, but not them.

By adding this, I would like to say that unfortunately the Armenians are able to do such things by exploiting the diasporas in the USA, France and other states of Europe. They do not occupy the right position in our peace negotiations. As they have occupied our lands, they advance conditions not favourable for us. It is obvious that we cannot accept them. That's why the peace negotiations drag on.

You know, I have met President of Armenia Kocharyan twice in Paris. Then with the mediation of President of Paris Jacques Chirac we had a meeting three. But these meetings didn't produce any result. As you know from TV the USA government has invited the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey to the USA. We shall hold negations on April 3, in Florida. Its initiator is Collin Powell. But President Bush is also engaged in this issue. We are informed that this meeting will be held out not only by the participation of the representatives of the USA but also by the representatives of Russia and France, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. I have to go there. I hope that we shall be able to step up ahead and establish peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The main goal is to liberate the occupied lands.

I tell it to you for the sake of information. But at the same time I would like to tell you that this topic was the main part of our negotiations with Mr. President. We have always been together with Turkey. Thus, at this stage we need to exchange views and consult with Turkey, its President and officials.

I do not want to speak about my entire visit. But I would like to add that our meetings and my official visit to Turkey were of great significance for Azerbaijan.

We have discussed the other issues as well. For instance we decided that everything is ready for BTC pipeline which interests everyone in Turkey. The program has been developed. The work is ongoing on this program. The BTC pipeline will be laid and finished. The Azerbaijani oil will flow through it to Turkey and reach the Mediterranean.

As you know there are rich gas deposits in Azerbaijan. We held the negotiations on exporting our gas to Turkey. As a result of these negotiations we signed agreements on the sale of the natural gas of Azerbaijan to Turkey. We have discussed other important issues as well. Therefore, I am very pleased of that visit.

The most important point of my visit is to visit Ankara University, they displayed great respect to me and I was conferred on the honorary title of doctor of this university. I am proud of it. I thank sincerely the senators of Ankara University, rector and everybody who there made this decision. Thank you very much.

Ankara University is one of the respectable and great universities of Turkey. I knew about this university, but when I was informed that they have conferred the honorary title of doctor on me, I got acquainted with its history once more. It gladdened me. Along with its other achievements and victories it is one of the first universities established by the decision of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. Ankara University fulfills the behests of Ataturk. "Science is the real teacher in life" he said. This statement is for all the scientists, universities in Turkey including Ankara University. This is the way that you should march as Ankara University does.

The relations between Ankara University and Azerbaijan gladden me. The rector told me that there are 150 Azerbaijani students and seven Azerbaijani teachers here. It is very important.

Ankara University has scientific relations and relations on education with the universities of Azerbaijan. Baku State University was established in 1919 is a big educational institution. Then it is said that you have established relations with Nakhichivan State University, Lankaran State University and the Academy of Sciences.

The Academy of Sciences is a big research center. You should know that it is the institution established by the Soviet Union. There was no such a research center before in many states, even in Turkey. It is an institution inherited from the Russian Empire. The Academy of Sciences was the greatest research center during the Soviet Union. We all know the advantages and disadvantages of the Soviet Union, and it had more disadvantages. But it did much in the field of science. For instance during the Soviet Union the Academy of Sciences was developed, and the academies were established in 15 allied republics, including Azerbaijan. The Academy of Sciences was established in Azerbaijan in 1945 and has done much. Though, it has some problems in the period of transition. But we solve all of these problems as well. I am so pleased that Ankara University has relations with the Academy of Sciences though it does not deal with education in Azerbaijan. They are engaged in the scientific researches. Therefore these relations are very significant.

The scientists, research centers and universities in Azerbaijan are doing researches on many issues in connection with Turkey and the Turkic world. Along with it, we have established a research center investigating the heritage of Ataturk on my initiative. The most educated people of both the Academy of Sciences and the universities of our country will gather here. As President of the Republic of Azerbaijan I am the honorary head of this center. I suppose this center will investigate and reveal the historical relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan from the scientific point of view. It will give an opportunity to establish new links of cooperation.

I am pleased that your university maintains relations with the Academy of Science in Azerbaijan directly. I wish Ankara University helped the center to investigate the heritage of Ataturk and the history of the Turkic world and the Turkic unity.

I will let you know that I am honored with different awards in my life. You are informed of my life here, and as you know, I have done so much and faced different problems in my life. But I am honored with different awards by the Soviet Union and other countries. The most distinguished award that I am honored is the Ataturk International Peace Prize given to me by Turkey in 1999. It is a great honor for me and I will bear this name till the end of my life with proudly.

I have honorary titles and different prizes. For instance, Moscow State University which is 250 years old, conferred on me a special degree 3 months ago. I had no information about it. I was invited to Moscow in order to get the prize, if I had not gone there, they would have visited Azerbaijan themselves.

When I was the first deputy chairmen of the Council of Ministers of the USSR I controlled science and education of the whole Soviet Union. In those years there were more than 800 universities, academies of Sciences etc. I contacted with them closely. But I did not receive those prizes then. In the period of the Soviet Union it was forbidden. I left that post many years ago, and now I am President of independent Azerbaijan. But the Moscow State University conferred me special honorary title.

I have received such titlesor from different universities in Turkey as well. But to be honored by such a highly developed educational institution as Ankara University, which has been established by Ataturk, is significant to me. Many officials, parliamentarians, ministers including the tenth President of the Republic of Turkey, my friend Ahmed Necdet Sezer, have graduated from Ankara University. As you gave him a good education, he became President of the Republic of Turkey.

Therefore, I am very pleased to be here with distinguished Mr. President. My dearest friend, I congratulate you on the fact that you have studied at this university. I suppose, as President you will aid this university more.

Dear friends, I thank you once more. Feel sure, that I shall bear the title of the honorary doctor proudly. It obliges me greatly. One of them is the development of the relations in the field of science and education between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Be sure that I shall fulfill it as well. I shall be pleased to see each of you in Azerbaijan.

I thank to you. I wish health, happiness and new achievements to the teachers and the students of the university.

Thank you very much.

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