Replies of President of the Azerbaijan Republic to the questions of local and foreign journalists at the VIII OIC Summit - Tehran, 11 December, 1997

Question: Do You believe that the Iran party will give its consent to the sector division of the Caspian Sea?

Answer: I cannot say whether I believe or not. Each side has its own policy and own interests. But I believe that there is no alternative to the division of the Caspian Sea into sectors in order to use it mineral resources. I think that all the Caspian coastal countries should follow this principle. Why? Not because it is advantageous for us. No. this principle is the best for fruitful use of mineral resources of the Caspian Sea.

Question: In your opinion, are there any opportunities for stretching a pipeline across the Iran territory to transport Azerbaijan oil and what should be done for it?

Answer: We have not negotiated over constructing a pipeline across Iran as yet. As you know, several agreements on the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea have been concluded and it opens prospects for greater production of oil and gas than it was stipulated. Thus, there can be not one, but several pipelines. So, I think that along with the Azerbaijan sector, it will be possible to extract oil in other sectors of the Caspian Sea - Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and others. If such a quantity of oil is extracted, it should be delivered to the world markets. And different routes of its delivery to the world markets can be delineated if they are secure from the economic point of view.

Question: Did You touch the issue of Iran`s supporting Armenia during the talk with President Khatami?

Answer: This issue always bothers us. We have repeatedly stated about it and expressed our discontent since Armenia has committed aggression against Azerbaijan, occupied 20 percent of its lands and do not liberate them for already several years. More than a million refugees have been living in tents for over 5 years already. Therefore, if anybody helps Armenia to wage annexationist policy, it cannot be undoubtedly approved by us.

For instance, as you know, the information about secret weapon supply of Armenia by Russia to the sum of 1 billion dollars was spread at the beginning of this year. The information was spread by official state bodies of Russia. We have not once expressed our discontent, protest and sent letters to Russia.

Iran is a friendly and brotherly neighbor country for us. And of course, too close links of Iran with Armenia, sometimes diversified, bother us and we always speak about it.

Question: Will it be smoothed over now within the framework of Islamic solidarity?

Answer: This question is beyond discussion. However, it is much possible that the VIII Summit of OIC will adopt a resolution as regards armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.

Question: How do You mean to put a question about ineffective activity of the OCSE Minsk group at the Copenhagen meeting?

Answer: I still do not consider it ineffective. We have the last proposals of the OCSE and we have adopted them. The leadership of Armenia, i.e. its president has also adopted them. The OSCE Minsk group co-chairs informed that Nagorno-Karabakh have not yet adopted them. They carry out work in Nagorno-Karabakh to have the proposals adopted there too as there cannot be better choice for Nagorno-Karabakh as well. I think they will carry on their work and therefore, the work of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs is not ineffective.

Question: Mr. President, how did You accept the last proposal of Elchibey?

Answer: I have not heard of any reasonable proposal by Elchibey. Therefore, I do not know which the last one is and which the first is.

Question: It was said about the first step undertaken by opposition at the meeting of "New Azerbaijan" party. What kind of step it should be?

Answer: You know, it was phrased a little differently, as though the first step. I did not say so. I just said that each democratic country should have opposition. If there is no opposition, there will be no democracy either; there will be no freedom of speech and political pluralism. Opposition should be present in any democratic country. At the same time, I said that opposition should learn the culture of opposition activity. Nothing springs up in the world in itself. Everything is created by people and society. Democracy was also created and developed in due time by people and civilized countries constantly evolve it.

The democracy in Azerbaijan is still young, it is five-six years old. Our democratic country and opposition are also young. Of course, the youth does not possess great experience and knowledge. Therefore, it is necessary to use the world experience. We should develop and improve taking into account our internal features. I ascribe it both to the state and opposition. And we do it as a state. But I am under the impression that our opposition stopped in its development at the level of 1989-1990. It could not grow in its development and adopt the world experience and culture of opposition. It could not learn the authority - opposition relations. But we will try and we try to do it. If I say these words, it means we have already adopted it to a certain extent. Opposition should build its relations with authority at a normal and civilized level. The time of pickets, weapons and force opposition in Azerbaijan has passed. You know that we have eliminated it. If you pay attention, I think you will agree that our biggest achievement within these years was the escape from these injurious features strongly damaging the Azerbaijan society, people and culture.

I was speaking from this point of view. In this case opposition will become civilized and know how to behave with the authority. The authority in its turn, having seen such a level, will appreciate a normal, frank, meeting national interests and at the same time an opposite opinion.

For instance, I do not attach importance to many of their statements. Because I see what underlies it. But if I see that these statements are really underlain by national interests, concern for the country, state and the nation, then an opinion of anybody will be important for us.

Question: The day before yesterday, You met President of Turkmenistan Niyazov and the case point was obviously the moot points over Caspian oil fields. What can You say about it? Did You solve this issue?

Answer: I have met President Niyazov, we are neighbors, we have many problems and we often meet. Especially, making use of attending international meetings. And yesterday, there was such an opportunity. We discussed some matters concerning our bilateral relations, including of course the matter of artificially created argument between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Since this issue has emerged and became a matter of dispute, we came to an agreement as two presidents to set up a joint Turkmen-Azerbaijan working group to work over and consider all the issues of an ostensibly controversial character, the issues brought up both by Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, and subsequently to submit its final ideas and proposals to our consideration. We have accepted such a decision and I entrusted the minister of foreign affairs with leading this matter.

Question: Can the results of activity of this commission be the basis for defining the status of the Caspian Sea as regards all the five countries?

Answer: The status of the Caspian Sea was unsolved so far not because of the argument between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. By the way, this matter was first raised somewhere in autumn of 1994 after Azerbaijan signed the contract with many foreign companies, the contract that was named "The contract of century". After that, definite circles of some countries put up a question of urgency to define the status of the Caspian Sea. So, it is an old matter. As for the claims of Turkmenistan, they arose quite recently. They appeared in summer, this year.

A journalist: It seems that in May.

Heydar Aliyev: You better ask Turkmenistan.

Question: The text of your speech is spread here. Its major part is devoted to the conflict with Armenia over Karabakh issue. Please, could You say what You expect in principle at the OIC Summit from the Islamic community - solidarity or a serious step? It is also said in Your speech that Armenia poses a threat to the region states. It is even broader interpretation of the situation connected with Armenia`s military reinforcement.

Answer: I said it in connection with the fact that Armenia had received illegally and secretly ammunition and weapons to 1 billion dollars from Russia. On August 29, a treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid including some points on close military cooperation was signed between Russia and Armenia. It certainly causes our concern and we do not conceal it. I spoke about it at the CIS Summit in Kishinev. I wrote about it in a letter to Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin. We addressed an official note to Russia and we protest against this point of treaty between Russia and Armenia right up to the settlement of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is quite unnatural that when there is a conflict, when 20 percent of the Azerbaijan territory is occupied by armenian troops and when Russia along with the USA and France is engaged in peaceful settlement of the conflict as a co-chair to the Minsk group, it at the same time concludes a treaty with Armenia on military cooperation assuming weapon supply and so on. We cannot be indifferent and regard this situation calmly. This is the reason as a matter of fact. As regards my expectations from the Summit, there is a draft resolution of the conference which includes some provisions denouncing armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and demanding immediate withdrawal of armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.