From the talk of Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, with Jan Kubis, Secretary- General of OSCE - June 21, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Secretary-General, I welcome you. I am glad to meet you. Recently we have met in the USA and exchanged views on our relations with OSCE. The peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was discussed as well. This time you have come to Azerbaijan with a different purpose. I think that it is an important issue, too.

We take an active part in this process; the meting with you is very significant. We have done our best for the successful organization of the seminar.

Jan Kubis: Mr. President, I thank you for the meeting and exchange of views. I was really glad to meet you in Key West during the negotiations on the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As you mentioned, this time I have come here on a different mission; I am very satisfied with the participation at the seminar on non-proliferation of small arms. It is a very serious problem which emerges particularly in some regions. It is clear that this region is full of such weapons as well as in other regions of OSCE member-states. Thus, OSCE adopted a significant document on the eve of the last meeting of the ministers in Vienna last November. The principles and measures on non-proliferation of small arms were submitted there.

The seminar was the first measure on the implementation of that document. The initiatives belonged to Azerbaijan and Switzerland. OSCE countries discuss not only the respective document, but the work to be done and how to realize it as well.

As for the second issue, which is also significant, this seminar is a kind of step for the preparation to the global conference of the UN where the issues on illegal proliferation and trade of small arms will be discussed. The conference is to be organized in New York.

In my speech at the opening of the seminar I emphasized the seriousness of this initiative. I congratulate you sincerely on this initiative. It is very serious. Having come here I could get acquainted with with the work of the office of OSCE. Recently with your approval and cooperation, OSCE has opened its office in Baku. The bureau works actively; in our meeting Mr. Vilayat Guliyev confirmed that there is a good cooperation. We discussed the steps to make the activity of the office more pragmatic. The office is going to move to a new residence. I saw the new apartment and I liked it. The residence is nice and suits the architectural style of the building around. I think that it will be pleasant for us to work there and cooperate with you. We plan to find some place for our colleagues from the Council of Europe when we move to that residence. Of course, if they want.

Heydar Aliyev: I thought that they would work independently.

Jan Kubis: They are independent. But in order not to repeat the same work in vain and to waste our attention and funds, we always try to discuss our programmes with the Council of Europe. Because they are your funds, the members of those organizations. As international civil servants we should treat your funds economically. Here I was shown another office within a big bureau. If our colleagues from the Council of Europe want, they can move there and work with us. It must be decided by them.

Mr. President, to be honest all I have seen here gladdened me. Unfortunately, my last visit to Baku was in 1992. Then the time was hard. Comparing I must say that Baku was beautiful then, but now it is more beautiful with its dynamic life. It is my personal impression. I apologize for talking about my impressions. But I want to share my nice impressions with you, besides talking of the currents issues. It is also a proof of the development of the country.

I discussed with the Foreign Minister some issues related to the further cooperation between Azerbaijan and OSCE. We told that we must intensify the cooperation on the second basket of OSCE which covers economic relations, protection of environment. Our organization prepares new and more active projects. There is a secretariat of TRASECA in Baku; we should establish the relations with them and see how the two organizations can cooperate.

We also discussed some other issues related to the spheres where we can effectively cooperate. Shortly, the purpose of my visit and my impressions are like this. I thank you again for the opportunity to meet you and exchange opinions. Mr. President, I am interested in your opinions on the development of the cooperation with OSCE, the work to be done, the issues which should be paid attention. Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I praise the initiative and measures of OSCE on non-proliferation of small arms. It is really threatening. The big powers always pay attention to strategic weapons. On the issues related to conventional arms there are counsels. We also participate there. Tanks and other elements are implied.

Currently small arms are widely used, spread, sold, purchased and used in all the armed conflicts such as ethnic and other kinds. Luckily, we are in the state of ceasefire with Armenia. During the war till 1994 such weapons played a great role.

In general, the conflict was launched to annex Nagorno-Karabakh which is the integral part of Azerbaijan. It could be discussed at the beginning, but it quickly turned into a military conflict. Because Armenian was armed.

I remember that "perestroika" and other processes in the Soviet Union led the people to be armed. However, it was forbidden by the Soviet legislature. Gorbachev signed a document that demanded confiscation of all the weapons. The document was to cover all the regions, not only Azerbaijan and Armenia. What happened in reality? The document signed by Gorbachev wasn`t implemented in Armenia; however, even training arms at schools were confiscated in Azerbaijan. Such weapons couldn`t play a role in the outbreak of the conflict. The Armenian party was already armed.

It is one of the reasons why they are so well armed. The decree of the Soviet president wasn`t implemented into life in Armenia; he didn`t care about it and take any measures. Thus, they had an advantage on weapons and initiated this conflict. I remember the event happened 12 years ago. With the lapse of years these arms spread wider.

For example, I don`t think that it was characteristic for other countries. Our country didn`t stay away from those processes.

You told that you visited Azerbaijan in 1992. The political situation in Azerbaijan was not stable in 1991. It was because people were armed with different kinds of weapons. The state didn`t control it.

Having returned from Moscow to Baku in 1990, I couldn`t live here and left for Nakhichevan. I saw that the civil people had weapons there for self-defense. Because the conflict had already been started. Then it was possible to purchase arms. But for what? Perhaps some people bought arms for self-defense when a lot of crimes were committed with such weapons. Afterwards the weapons were used for committing crimes. It is an episode from the past. Talking about today, I must say that conflicts begin with this kind of weapons. The states which have tanks, canons and other kinds of weapons can use them. When one party attacks the other, small arms are mostly used.

Therefore, inclusion of this issue into the agenda, attention of Azerbaijan to it, involvement of OSCE in this problem and your decision to organize a seminar here deserve great attention. I praise it. Taking into consideration the experience of our republic, I can say that from 1990 till 1993 when a civil war broke out guns were mostly used. After the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, we needed several years to stabilize the situation in Azerbaijan and confiscate the illegal arms from the citizens. Our law-enforcement bodies, such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of State Security, still discover weapons in different spots. The people buried their arms in order to use them in future. Recently such a case was discovered and a lot of weapons were found.

Thus, this issue is of global importance now. We would like OSCE to be engaged in it, to take effective measures, to control this kind of weapons, which can threaten the start of military operations and conflicts. It would be better.

As for our cooperation with OSCE, you told that you are satisfied with having a representation here. We cooperate actively with it. They have a nice residence which you liked, too. You want to open a representation of the Council of Europe at that apartment. It is an indication of an active cooperation.

Besides, through the cooperation with OSCE we need the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, liberation of the occupied territories, return of one million people to their homes, restoration of our territorial integrity of the country. Since 1992 OSCE has been engaged in these issues.

I don`t know if you visited Azerbaijan on the mission of OSCE.

Jan Kubis: Yes, I did.

Heydar Aliyev: Thus, you have great experience and knowledge. In order to help the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, OSCE established the Minsk Group. It was in 2001, but the conflict hasn`t been solved yet. 20 per cent of our territory is under occupation, one million people withdrawn from their homes live in hard conditions, Armenia has occupied our lands and violated the norms of international law. Naturally, all this leads the violation of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

We have led many negotiations with OSCE on this issue. I remember the OSCE summit in Budapest in 1994 when we had a progress and the Lisbon summit in 1996. In the special statement in the Lisbon summit the principles of the peaceful solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict were determined and we were satisfied with it. But the attitude of Armenia was negative. Then in 1997 they rejected two other proposals based on the principles of the Lisbon summit. Thus, the more important we expect from the cooperation with OSCE is the solution of this conflict.

The other issues such as democracy, human rights, and elections are important as well. In this spheres we cooperate and will cooperate, we move forward and will move. However, it is too hard to make a great jump. However, we keep moving. The most important problem for us is the solution of the conflict. Unless the conflict with the neighboring country is solved, the occupied territories are liberated, one million people return homes, the other issues seem to me, to the President of Azerbaijan trifles. For example, the fair or unfair organization of elections, mistakes in it and violation of human right in the election process.

For several years the international organizations, as well as OSCE, don`t pay attention to the violation of the human rights of one million people. I expect it from OSCE, and using the opportunity I tell you about it.

Jan Kubis: Mr. President, thank you. Let me briefly express my opinion on what I have heard on the solution of the conflict. It is my personal opinion as I am not engaged in this issue directly. I think that the progress made recently, my observation during the Key West negotiations demonstrate the potential of these processes. I was positively affected by the progress of the negotiations. If I understand correctly, during the negotiations and after the co-chairs were evolved, the definite contours have emerged. I know that the co-chairs are holding consultations now and they must meet soon, and think of the next steps.

Heydar Aliyev: Where do they meet?

Jan Kubis: The meeting is to be held in Malta. They will be in Bucharest next Monday and Tuesday in order to meet the current chairman of OSCE and the Romanian Foreign ministry Mr. Goane. I am aware that you discuss these issues in other formats as well. Recently, the meeting of four presidents took place in the frames of the CIS summit; I could pursue it only through the documents. From those documents I learned that these issues had been discussed.

As for the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, I must say that it is OSCE itself or one of the means of OSCE. Thus, we have joined the issue as an organization. Our activity can be seen. After the Key West, I left with positive impressions. I hope that these issues will develop the same way.

As for the other spheres of the cooperation, naturally, issues will emerge. While being on the process of transformations and changes, it is impossible to succeed perfection for once. There will be issues, wills, as well as criticism. All we undertake is a constructive dialogue. Mr. President, as you said, the reaction is under way. When issues appear, Azerbaijan takes definite measures; however, not everything happens for once. In my opinion, it is a right attitude which will bring profit in the future. This all are part of the image and the position of the state; naturally, they affect the opportunities of the state to influence the processes which it is interested in. They all have mutual relations. Of course, I understand which issue is priority for you and I agree with you on it.

I state again that OSCE is ready to cooperate in the solution of the conflict and other fields and will cooperate. You mentioned human rights, democratization, elections. I am adding economic and environmental issues. Now we discuss the non-proliferation of small arms. Its circle is wide. This coincides with the complex approach of OSCE to the security problems. The sphere of cooperation is wide and it can be developed in all directions.

As for our joint seminar, it is not an issue of a single organization or several states. This seminar was organized together with the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Such a format must inspire the political dialogue between NATO and the partner-states. In my opinion, the cooperation between OSCE and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council is important as well. It is a serious initiative and one of the preparation stages to the global conference of the UN. Speaking about the European Council, we can and must use the potential of all the countries to exert pressure on the problems facing us.

Mr. President, I want to be optimistic about the solution of the main problem. I have no doubt that the co-chairs of the Minsk Conference together with you will find the solution for the issue. Of course, they can and must take into account the basic principles,

as well as the definite compromises. There will be no way for the solution without compromises. The kind of compromises will be solved by you and the co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.