The speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at Johns Hopkins University in Washington - 14 February 2000


Respected Mr. Ambassador Wolfowitz!

Dear Ladies and gentlemen!

I greet all of You warmly and tender my best wishes to You. I am very pleased with the invitation which have received in order to come to the International Investigations Center and hold a meeting here and render my cordial gratitude. I thank all of You that You paid a great interest to this meeting, came here and I suppose that You listen to me with a great patience.

I have a lot of words which I am going to tell here. But I know that the time is limited. I know that You ate interested in the problems concerning our Region, that it is to say Caucasus, Central Asia, the space of the former USSR. I can talk for hours about it for You. But I don't want to harass You. I want to inform You about some matters.

When introducing me to the guests Ambassador Mr. Wolfowitz has already informed You about me and my country. But notwithstanding it I want to inform You about Azerbaijan very precisely.

You know and it is known from the map that Azerbaijan is a country situated in Caucasus. The Azerbaijan people has a very rich and old history. This history is measured by many milleniums. The Azerbaijanis adopted the Islam in the VII century. Azerbaijan had a very rich literature in the past and its science was very famous all over the world. The great poets of Azerbaijan Nizami Ganjavi and Khagani wrote very valuable works then in the X-XII centuries. The great poets in the next centuries Mahammad Fuzuli, Nasimi and the others enriched the world's civilization and culture with their valuable works.

At the beginning of the XIX century in the result of Russia-Iran war, there were two wars before, Azerbaijan was divided. The northern part of Azerbaijan where we live at present was annexed to the territories of Russian Empire and the southern part of Azerbaijan, the river of Araz divides that boarder, was annexed to the territories of Iran. Two centuries, in the XIX and XX centuries Azerbaijan lived in the staff of Russian Empire. The Soviet Power was also established in Azerbaijan after the October Revolution in 1920 and the Soviet Power ruled also in Azerbaijan for 70 years. Azerbaijan was one of the 15 union Republics which form the Soviet Union.

Really, Ambassador Wolfowitz told very perfectly here that Azerbaijan has a very significant and advantageous geographical position. It hasn't been created by us, it has been created by the nature. Azerbaijan has very wealthy natural resources. In 1848 there was started to produce oil in Azerbaijan by industrial method for the first time. After a few years following it the oil production began in America, Pennsylvania, therefore Azerbaijan occupies the first place in the world on this matter. For many long years, for ten years Azerbaijan was known as a country of oil. At the beginning of the XX century 80 percent approximately of the world's oil was extracted in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan attracted the attention of the foreign companies nearly since the middles of the XIX century, 70s. Some huge companies, as well as the Nobel Brothers came to Azerbaijan and were employed in the development of oil industry. A part of the wealth obtained by the Nobel Brothers was left in Azerbaijan as its own possession. Therefore the persons who are awarded the Nobel Prize must be aware of it.

During the World War II80 percent of oil supply of the Soviet Union was provided from Azerbaijan, Baku. It means that this oil provided the whole Soviet Union. Some specialists consider so that if there wouldn't be the oil of Azerbaijan, the Soviet Union couldn't either win the victory over the fascist Germany or it would be impossible to gain it.

In the period of Soviet Power the industry, all economy, culture, science and education of Azerbaijan had developed a lot. Azerbaijan enters into the European Continent and it is situated in the junction of Europe and Asia.

In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed Azerbaijan also declared its independence, State independence as the other Union Republics. We have been living as an independent State for eight years. Though this period is as much difficult, hard for us, it is so much dear and valuable for us. Because finally, the Azerbaijan people lives in its independent State and obtained its national independence.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and declaration of the State independence by the Union Republics was very hard and complicated process. Because the countries, Republics which obtained the independence have already commenced to renounce the Soviet ideology, communist ideology, socialist economic-political system, that is to say started the way of development adopting the economic system and democracy being in the Western countries. All of us regard it as a transmission period. But the transmission period doesn't elapse in the same condition in all countries which got independence. In some of the it collapses peacefully, without any conflict, but in some of them in the condition of conflicts and instability of social-political state. From this point of view I can say that Azerbaijan was in the hardest condition in comparison with the Republics being the members of the Soviet Union and it is in the hard condition at present, too. Because when Azerbaijan declared its State Independence there has been existing a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for three years since 1991 and Azerbaijan was in the condition of war.

Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict began in 1988 for the purpose of seizure of Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) Autonomous Region being a part of Azerbaijan by Armenia. It has been told here that I worked in the leadership of the Soviet Union in the past, was the member of Political Bureau, then the Deputy Prime Minister, that is to say the First Deputy Chairman of the Soviet of Ministers. Therefore I know the Soviet Union perfectly-1 know it from beneath up to heat. I consider that this conflict could be staved off in 1988. But I consider that it was necessary for some forces, persons, maybe for the persons in Moscow be this conflict. It is the first conflict in the territory of the former USSR, post-Soviet space. As this conflict wasn't staved off, it was splayed and finally turned into the war. It has brought to the large-scaled tragic results. I tell again, Moscow made the great faults both against Armenia and Azerbaijan in non-averting of this problem.

Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) - it has been painted by a red color on the map- is the Autonomous Region established nationalized in the structure of Azerbaijan in 1923. When this Autonomous Region was established there lived both the Azerbaijanis and Armenians. But the Armenians formed the overwhelming majority. Therefore this region was granted the status of autonomy. In the subsequent periods, e.g., the problem was summoned by the Armenians in the 50s, 60s to annex Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) to Armenia. But, naturally the Soviet Power of that time didn't accept these proposals.

When the conflict began in 1988, 170 thousand people lived in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). Its 70 percent were Armenians and 30 percent were Azerbaijanis. As a consequence of the conflict the Azerbaijanis were forcedly withdrawn, completely from Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). Then as Armenia was at war with Azerbaijan, the Armenian armed forces also occupied the territories being around Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) which have been painted by the green and yellow colors as Armenia received aids both from Russia and the other countries. So, 20 percent of territories of Azerbaijan has been occupied by the Armenian armed forces. Approximately one million Azerbaijanis being inhabitants of those territories have been forcedly turned out of their houses and homes and most of them live under canvases in the different cities and towns, settlements of Azerbaijan.

This war continued till 1994. Ambassador Wolfowitz stated that I was elected as the President of Azerbaijan. In May, 1994 we stopped the war, we signed the Agreement on cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is more than five years that we live in the condition of cease-fire, that is to say there is not war and battles. But there doesn't also exist peace. The overwhelmingly important point is that both the Azerbaijan party and the Armenian one observe the cease-fire.

I must additionally note it, the feature consists of that notwithstanding the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan there doesn't exist any foreign peacemaking or separating military units in the frontiers. Within the whole five years we always try to solve the problem by means of peace. OSCE is engaged in this problem and this task was entrusted to Minsk Group established by OSCE in its staff. Minsk Group is headed by Russia, the United States of America and France.

But why isn't the problem solved? We consider because of the non-constructive position Armenia. Because we are ready to grant the high self-government status to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) in the Azerbaijan Republic and we have declared it for several times. When granting such a status we demand the Armenian Armed Forces be withdrawn from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and to secure the return of the people to their native places who have been expatriated from their homes and houses. But Armenia wants to get the status of State independence for Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). Naturally, we can't agree with it.

Generally, such opinions are told in Armenia that "Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) acts on the principles of solution of its futurity". The international juridical norms, as well as the Helsinki Act adopted in 1975 shows that the territorial integrity of each country must be supported and every nation must be given a chance to determine its fortune.

The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated. It must be restored and our territorial integrity must be secured. Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) will have the right of self-government when being awarded the high status. But there is a quaint moment here. The Armenian people have their own State which is called Armenia. It means that The Armenian people have determined its fate and its own State. If Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) wants to be the second Armenian State in the world, it extremely excites astonishment.

It is natural that when Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) is awarded the higher status of self-government in the Azerbaijan Republic its relations must be secured with the world as well as directly with Armenia. The Armenian party states that Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) can't be in the position of enclave. There is a way to Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) only from this direction. So, there is a way in order to form a relation with Armenia, a corridor may be given from there. But You must be aware of it that the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is in the condition of enclave. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has been situating in the blockade since the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. Because the highways from the main parts of Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan passed through the territory of Armenia. All railway, road-transport, electrical, gas and telephone lines have been cut off. I want to inform it in order to be taken into account by You. Now the situation is concluded with those problems.

In April of the last year, I met with the President of Armenia Kocharyan in Washington and then we have held s few meeting this year. The main goal of these meetings is to attain peace directly in the result of talks of these Presidents. Both parties declared that there needed definite compromises and both parties expressed their intention to make such compromising steps. But unfortunately, we couldn't have solved this problem up to nowadays yet.

The Kocharyan-Aliyev meeting was held in Dawos in these latter days. My opinion is that the problem must be solved by means of peace. I declare that it is impermissible to levy war and keep the field again. Though the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated and the Azerbaijanis over one million live under the canvases, even a meter of Armenia's territory hasn't been occupied, the big blows have been buffeted onto Azerbaijan and it was jeopardized, all property has been destroyed turned into ruin in the occupied territories we want to solve the problem by means of peace. It seemed to me that we would be able this problem in 2000. I also live with those hopes at present. But the co-chairmen of Minsk Group- Russia, the United Stets of America and France have to attack the problem very seriously and must try many shots. It is natural that at the same time the Kocharyan-Aliyev meeting is to be continued.

This conflict has put forth the situation in all Caucasus. Just after four years following this conflict the Abkhazian and Ossetin problem confronted. Consequently to it the Dnestrian conflict began in Moldova and then the Chechen conflict. So, the Armenian-Azerbaijan, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict founded the forthcoming processes in the whole post-Soviet space. I consider should they understood the disadvantage of this conflict not only for Armenia and Azerbaijan, but its spreading to all other countries opportunely, this conflict could be staved off.

I know that You have got a few questions about Azerbaijan which Your are interested with deep concern. One of them is using of oil and gas resources and performing of conjoint activities between Azerbaijan, the United States of America and European countries.

I declared that Azerbaijan is an old oil country. 50 years ago Azerbaijan began to extract oil from the depths of the Caspian Sea. Almost Azerbaijan was the only country extracting oil from the sea for the first time in the world. But this matter developed strongly in some countries of the world. There appeared the technique, technology and equipment having the greatest possibilities and the process of oil extraction from the depths of the sea reached the highest level in the world at present. Getting the State independence allowed us to commence the utilization of our natural resources independently at our discretion. For this purpose we began to do the conjoint works with the huge oil companies having the highly developed technique, technology in the United States of America and European countries in the first instance and in September, 1994 the great contract with 11 oil companies representing 11 States was signed with Azerbaijan State Oil Company in Azerbaijan. It was named "The Contract of the Century".

This Contract was signed first on the basis of "Azeri", "Chirag" and "Gunashli" field. There were conducted the geophysical works here in the previous years and we knew that there were a great deal of oil resources. Really, there were a lot of elements intending to prevent us greatly in the preparatory period of the signing of this contract. The issue as "The status of the Caspian Sea must be solved" was put in the midmost. There appeared protests against the arrivals of the Western countries - USA and European countries in the Caspian Sea. We run a lot of suppressions. But notwithstanding it we signed the contract. We were exerted much after it. Some Caspian countries declared that they are not going to recognize this contract. Even one of our partners- a minister of England met with me and asked what they would do? I asked what they meant about. He answered that someone didn't recognize the Contract.

I told him not to be worried, who wants to recognize or not, it doesn't make us anxious. These fields are in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea and this sector belongs to Azerbaijan. Therefore we are entitled to use our natural resources as an independent State. The status of the Caspian Sea lies in these clarifications. When the oil production was started in the Caspian Sea as far back as the period of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea was divided into the sectors by the Decree of the Soviet Government in 1970. This the Azerbaijan sector, then Russian sector, Turkmenistan sector, the next one is the Iranian sector. We didn't overflow our sector. But some Caspian countries state that this principle of sector was established at the Soviets and it must be reconsidered for their opinion. We don't protest against it. The discussions have been conducted for several times. We are ready for these discussions just today. But if they are going to make known this problem for the sake of prevention of our works, we can't agree with it.

In the past five years we have attained great achievements. First, we have extracted oil from "Chirag field" in 1997 on the ground of the first contract and started its exportation. It is natural that a big Terminal Sangachal has been constructed not far from Baku and the oil is transported there by pipes. At the time we have been doing the necessary works on the exportation of oil starting from 1994. It is written in the Contract signed in 1994 that the main export oil pipeline must be Baki-Ceyhan pipe line. But starting from 1996 we have constructed the pipe line from Baku to Novorossiyski port of the Black Sea for the export of the exportation of the initial oil. Russia very wanted it and we assented to it. Russia wants that all part of oil be exported through the territory of Russia.

Really, we were very anxious that the situation in Chechenistan might prevent the proper using of this pipe line. But Russia guaranteed us that they would secure it, that is to say the oil would be exported. Taking into account we laid the alternative oil pipe line- from Baku to Supsa port of Georgia in the Black Sea. In November, 1997 we dispatched the first tanker filled with the initial oil to Novorossiyski Port. But then in the result of war in Chechenistan this line doesn't operate already. In April, 1999 we had completed Baku-Supsa pipe line and exported oil by the first tanker through that line. We have extracted 8 million tons of oil since November, 1997 up to present and exported it.

But the main object put before us was Baku-Ceyhan oil pipe line. There were also a lot of obstacles to the construction of this line. We have been working for five years on it. Finally on November 18 of the last year four countries - Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Gazakhistan signed the Contract on oil pipe line in Turkey. Because Gazakhistan has also supplied the great part of its oil extracted on its territory to Baku through the Caspian Sea and it is planning to draw it to world markets.

I want to state that the Government of the United of States of America and personally the President Mr. Bill Clinton always have supported all of our these works. If the United States of America hadn't supported us, we couldn't had signed the first Contract and done the other works, too. We couldn't had also signed the contract on Baki-Ceyhan oil pipe line. Therefore it is natural that the President Mr. Bill Clinton had also put his signature to this Contract when signing on November 18 of the last year in Istanbul. We started the development of oil fields in the Caspian Sea in 1994. But the interest of the companies in foreign countries to the Azerbaijan sector in the Caspian Sea increased so that 19 contracts have been concluded within five years. 30 oil companies take part in 19 contracts and 15 countries are represented. More than 9 oil companies of the United States of America occupied a fitting place in Azerbaijan.

Pursuant to our initial calculations, nearly 57-60 milliard US Dollars must be invested for all of these contracts. The Contracts have concluded for the term of 30 years. But I suppose that the oil will be much than it is expected, maybe the investment will also be much. This map which You see is related to the share distribution. We have also got the large potentials in our other fields. We have got nearly 120-130 fields having the potentiality of delivery of oil and gas in our sector in the Caspian Sea. I can say that all of them have been discovered by the scientists, specialists and oil worker of Azerbaijan within 50 years. We expect that approximately 4,5 milliard tons of oil will be extracted in the result of these contracts. But we consider that it would be more than it is expected. For example, we consider that 500 tons of oil will be extracted from each well in "Chirag" field per day but 1000-1500 tons of oil is extracted now.

The works having being conducted lately show that we have also got large gas fields in Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. We realize the contract now which was signed by us on "Shahdaniz" field in 1996. After the first well has been bored, over 1 trillion cubic meters of gas resource is expected there.

There is "Absheron" field near it. "Chevron" Company of the USA is operating there. They are forecasting so that over 3 trillion cubic meters of gas resource is expected there. They are as early as the initial achievements. I suppose that the other gas fields will be opened in the other fields and Azerbaijan will not have a possibility to export only the oil, but a great deal of gas at the same time.

So, we are thinking of the export of gas. Because the oil can be transported in cisterns by railway, tankers, but the gas can only be transported in the pipes. I suppose that we shall also find its way.

Really, when we started these works such opinions have been expressed and set forth or articles have been written in the press of some countries of the world as well as in the press of the United States of America up to present time that the information delivered about gas and oil potentials of Azerbaijan have been exaggerated or there don't exist so many resources. I suppose that they are wrong. They either don't know the situation or they display malevolent actions. We know that the forces standing in the hostile position against Azerbaijan are sufficient in this field. We are not in urgent need to exaggerate the figures-it is that what is available. We have been extracting both the oil and gas more up to now than we expected and it will be so in the future, too. We are going to start the construction of Baki-Ceyhan oil pipeline one of these odd-come-shortlies.

I state once again that Azerbaijan has very significant geographical-strategic position. It is very convenient for us. But at the same time it puts some forces against us in action, too. We see our duty in that aspect that we should develop our country and avert all pressures directed to us.

Our country has been striding through the path of democracy since the day it declared independence. Consequently The democratic, lawful and the high society building process is implemented consequently in Azerbaijan. We adopted our first Constitution in 1995 and all democratic principles have been reverberated there. Now we proceed along the path of market economy and will do in the future. We implement the economic and social reforms. We try to secure the flow of foreign investment not only in the oil sector as well as in the other sectors. Within 5 years over 5 milliard US Dollars have been brought to Azerbaijan. The quantity of the investment attracted to the non-oil sector increases gradually. For example, 60 percent of foreign investment has been put to non-oil sector and 40 percent to oil sector.

The economic reforms yield their results. Privatization, land reform, transfer of land to individual property, forming of enterprising and some other processes are proceeding. It is natural that we are as far back as the initial stage of these processes. There are a lot works before us to do. From the economical point of view we cooperate with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Council very closely. We want to create very friendly and mutual advantageous relations with all States of the world. It is natural that we are interested in Caucasus and specially Southern Caucasus in the first instance. There are three countries in Southern Caucasus-Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. There are very good friendly relations and cooperation between Georgia and Azerbaijan. But the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict puts obstacles in the way of implementation of general cooperation in Southern Caucasus. Therefore the solution of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict is not only important for two countries, but for holding out of the olive-branch, security and securing of large economic cooperation.

We have got very good friendly and amicable relations with the neighboring Turkey. Our relations with Russia and Iran are also normal. But we wish that it would be better than it is expected. But it doesn't only depend on us.

So, I consider that the Caucasian problem is the most complicated and hard problem of the world. The interest of the world to Caucasus increased but besides it we need the assistance for securing of peace and security in Caucasus.

I told that Azerbaijan is country being situated between Europe and Asia. Recently the restoration of the Historical Silk Road has come in sight as an actual problem. This problem was summoned by UNESCO as early as in 1980. But after the collapse of the Soviet Power, Soviet Union this process made a great progress.

Azerbaijan almost plays a part of key in the restoration of Silk Road. We take all efforts for this purpose. It is natural that its basis is formed of TRACEKA Program drawn up by the European Council. In the latest five years we have done a lot of works. In 1996 we signed the Contract in the city of Sarakhs of Turkmenistan between Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia and took the necessary measures on the use of Trans-Caucasus and Trans-Caspian Corridor. We came to good in the shortest time.

In September, 1998 the great international conference was held in Azerbaijan. The representatives of 32 countries- the countries being situated on the Milk Road and stretching along Japan, China as far as Spain. The President represented 9 countries. The representatives of 12 international organizations participated as the conferees. We signed the Contract and we try to put it into effect.

Precisely, what can we say about its expedience? For instance, in the last five years the freightage has increased for 2,5 times by using the transport passing through the line of Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia. In 1996 the freightage amounted to two million tons, but in 1999 it formed 5 millions. Relatively to the Northern routes consolidating Asia with Europe the distance is shorter for 2 thousand kilometers. The customs duties and the other thing are rather cheaper here than they have been fixed there. Therefore the restoration of Silk Road is one of the live issues.

The great attention is also paid to it in the United States of America. Senator Sem Brawnback16 has submitted a large project to the Congress about it. In April of the last year we participated in a Conference here, in the Building of the Senate. The members of the Senate, the State representative Samuel Berger, great political figures Baker, Bzhezinski and the others told very positive opinions here. Nine Presidents of Asian and Caucasian countries including Turkey and Romania made a speech in the Conference and all of them stated the importance of restoration of Great Silk Road. Unfortunately, the Congress didn't ratify the draft law forwarded by Sam Brownback. But it doesn't signify so much for us, we are implementing and will put into effect this program.

So, the Caucasus and Central Asia are interested regions. There are new independent States here. It is necessary to render them assistance in order to strengthen their independence and implement their programs.

I can tell it about Azerbaijan that it strengthens its State independence from day to day. There is not any Army of any other country in the territory of Azerbaijan. I regret to say that there are big military units and stations of Russia in Armenia. Now Russia has brought the most modern weapons to those military stations as "C-300" missiles, MiG-29 war-aircrafts and other prepotent weapons. We clamor against it.

The military alliance has been formed between Russia and Armenia. It has been informed today that the military alliance between Belarus and Armenia. There are some forces in Russia that they are intending to restore the Soviet Union.

We are against it. Azerbaijan considers its State independence to be the historical achievement of the people and we always desire to live independently. We want that no one make an encroachment on our independence. We wish that the big States, economically developed countries as the USA, the European States and the others render their assistance to the development, existence of the countries as an independent, democratic State as our countries, concretely of Azerbaijan.

I feel a deep regret that the Congress of the United States of America adopted the unjust resolution against Azerbaijan, Article 907 as the amendment to the "Freedom Support Act". This resolution was adopted for that purpose as if "Azerbaijan blockaded Armenia". Because of it there has been put an embargo on any kind of aid for Azerbaijan from the United States of America.

Let's consider this problem for the sake of objective reality. Who blockaded whom? Azerbaijan or Armenia? There is a railway from Baku to Yerevan and it stretches as far as Yerevan passing through Nakhchivan. This railway is significant both for Armenia and Azerbaijan. But Armenia seized the railway and 130 km of the frontier having the same border with Iran by capturing the lands of Azerbaijan. For this reason we can't put this railway into motion. If the occupied territories are cleared out the railway will run into operation and there will be a railway between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Therefore I say once again that it is Azerbaijan which has been blockaded and punished by Article 907.

There are many very esteemed Senators, Congressmen in the Congress of the USA that put forward their suggestions. But there are also such Congressmen who impede to implement these suggestions.

The Government of the United States of America have declared for several time that Article 907 was unjust against Azerbaijan and stated their opinion about its liquidation. But it hasn't been liquidated up to now. Hereby I am going to denote that Azerbaijan has created very great allied, partnership relations in the recent five-six years and carries out a broadened economic cooperation. We have a right to ask the United States of America: Why don't you render an effective assistance to Azerbaijan in solution of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict? Why don't You eliminate the Article 907?

But I am optimist and I consider that the problem will be settled by means of peace, the security and peace will be secured in Southern Caucasus, Azerbaijan will exist and develop as an independent and democratic State.

I have taken your time a lot and thank You for your attention.

Paul Wolfowitz: Mr. President agreed to answer the questions. I think so that we have got a little time. I want to request that You come up to microphones and put your questions and introduce yourselves. Please.

Question: Mr. President, I am the representative of the journal being published about the member States of NATO. Azerbaijan is a participator of NATO Program on "Partnership for peace". Azerbaijan is one of the countries endeavoring and trying most to become a NATO member. We would like to know whether you are going to be a full member of NATO. If you want, how can Azerbaijan drive benefit from NATO and what contributions can it make to it?

Heydar Aliyev: I affirm the words you told. It is not an easy matter to be a member of NATO. It doesn't depend only on us. I know that it is a big process. We take an active part in the program of "Support for peace". We also act in North Atlantic Assembly and will act thereon. Thank You.

Question: Mr. President, You told us about the history of Azerbaijan, the customs and habits, culture of the Azerbaijan people. We'd like You clarify your opinions a little about the relations between Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijanis living in Iran. It is clear that there live Azerbaijanis in Iran three times more than the population of Azerbaijan. We'd like more You share your opinions about the events taken place in Zangazur 50-60 years ago and the population of Zangazur.

Answer: According to the present information, nearly 30 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. But they are citizens of Iran. Naturally, there is a difference between the Azerbaijanis living in Iran and Azerbaijan. Our language, religion, customs and traditions, even the meals are the same. Many things are identical. But the difference which I told You is that we have been in the compound with Russia for 200 years and approached to the European culture. Azerbaijan mastered all European values as the European and civil country. But the Azerbaijanis in Iran live with the values of Iran's sphere. Undoubtedly, the relations have broadened much at present. Many people met with their kinsfolk after 70-year nostalgia. But we always follow the principle that not to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries and no one must interfere in the internal affairs of our country. I don't know what you mean by saying about the events in Zangazur taken place 50-60 years ago.

Question: Forming of local population on that territory was also multifarious. That is there live Azerbaijanis on the both sides of the corridor. What about the fate of the territory remained between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan?

Answer: Yes, there lived many Azerbaijanis in Zangazur. In the old days the overwhelming majority of Zangazur population was Azerbaijanis. But in the period of establishment of the Soviet Union the maps of the Republics had been charted and Zangazur remained in the structure of Armenia. The Azerbaijanis moved from there gradually. There lived more Azerbaijanis in Mehri region up to 1988, 1989, and 1990 which you bear in mind as well as the Armenians.

Question: I am the student of the faculty of social development of the Institute of International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University. Last summer I worked in a non-governmental organization acting in Azerbaijan. Our organization was engaged in granting of small credits to entrepreneurs in Azerbaijan. But when I started working there our non-governmental organization was closed down by the Government. The Government declared that even though it was a small-volume organization the granting of credits must be licensed absolutely by the Central bank. I'd like to know what measures are taken for the purpose of determination of the juridical status of non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan? What conditions are created there for the activity of those organizations in rendering of assistance to Azerbaijanis? In addition to it, how is Azerbaijan envisaging to use the income drawn from oil?

Answer: A great deal of work is implemented and many laws are adopted in Azerbaijan for the development of enterprising, especially forming of small and middle enterprising. Such is the strategy of our economic policy: to render assistance for all entrepreneurs and create vaster condition for the activity of small companies arriving in Azerbaijan.

Really, there are also persons in our power and executive bodies not observing the laws. They cause damage to our works. It is a very difficult process. Therefore, for instance, I decided to decree probably odd-come-shortly on creation of a united agency for the purpose of activity of all companies coming from abroad to Azerbaijan, all investors, that is small, middle, big ones address to the same organization. But now we haven't got a proper regulation about it. Some licenses are issued by the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Agriculture. Therefore it complicates our work.

There are many non-governmental organizations in our Republic. There are mane private banks. They act very widely and grant credits. But I don't know why your non-governmental organization wasn't given a chance. Anyhow, you can be sure that such defects will be eliminated.

You are interested in the incomes drawn from the oil. A few months ago I issued a Decree and established the Special Oil Fund in Azerbaijan. All incomes drawn from the oil will be collected in the Oil Fund and will be used for social development of Azerbaijan, for the development of market economy and opening of new working places. That is to say the incomes will not be given only to the people for the improvement of their material condition, but to form the production and create the other possibilities in order they work, draw much profit and the people use this income.

Question: I am Silan Beshayev, the Leader of Chechenistan Delegation, First Deputy Chairman of Parliament. Mr. Aliyev, We are glad to see You in the USA. I'd like to put You a question: How do You evaluate the activity of Russian troops in Chechenistan and about your outlook on the solution of this conflict? Thank You.

Answer: You are putting me a very knotty question. I have talked a lot about it these very days. We are against the separatism, terrorism and various crimes. We have a great sympathy to the Chechen people. The Chechen people is one of the esteemed and valuable peoples of the Caucasus and we have always held the Chechen people in high respect. After Mashadov was elected as the President in Chechenistan there were very wannest relations between Azerbaijan and Mashadov. But the war mustn't be forgotten, Russia is intending to secure its territorial integrity and restore its power on the territory of Chechenistan belonging to it. Saying about its future, I suppose that it must be expected.

Question: Mr. President, You are known as a person obtained very valuable and great achievements and gained experience as a man of the world both in the period of the Soviet Union and in the international relation after it. Which recommendations and advice would You give to the youth desiring to be the specialists in the field of international relations in the future by appearing before the students of International Investigations Institute at the Johns Hopkins University as a connoisseur of this science?

Answer: A lot things can be said about it. First, I became aware with a great pleasure of the fact that there was established the Institute on the Caucasus and Asian countries in the International Division of the Johns Hopkins University. I applaud it and we are ready to render the necessary assistance from our side for the development of this Institute.

The study of Central Asia was commenced very late. But, as the sayings go, better late than never. Therefore I'd like to wish that the students of the Caucasian and Asian Institute pay really a great attention to our region and learn the peculiarities of our countries, the traditions, mentality and the past of the peoples. Because the Caucasus is such a kind of place where live peoples differing extremely from each other. These peoples have their own peculiar language, mentality and distinctive features. They must be studied.

Some people in America consider so that all things must be so as they are in America. It is wrong reflection. Because the United States of America is a developed country. Really, it hasn't got a deep and old history. But in the shortest period, within 200 years it has gained great achievements. There are some countries which have very old history, peculiar traditions, moral values but aren't capable to touch the level of American society. Maybe there is not a need for it, because should everybody be the same, be in the same clothing, it wouldn't be interesting: the clothes are different in the world and this difference must be comprehended.

There are many varieties in the Caucasus and Asia for their own peculiarities.

Question: Mr. President, my name is Fatih and I am a Turkish. First, I want to denote that all Turks have been supporting Azerbaijan in this conflict from beginning to end. Mr. President, my question relates mainly to the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. When speaking about this conflict You have touched upon the existence of possibility of the corridor between Armenia and Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). I'd like to know your opinion about the corridor through Mehri region between Nakhchivan and the main territory of Azerbaijan. Because we'd like that all Turkish world, Azerbaijan and Turkey embrace. It would be very interesting to know your opinions about this corridor.

Answer: My standpoint about it is very clear: If a corridor will be given to Armenia through Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh), in that case there also must be a corridor to Nakhchivan through the main territory of Azerbaijan.

Question: I work at the Institute of International relations of our University. Mr. President You appeared in November with the proposal on establishment of Security and Cooperation Pact in Southern Caucasus. Since that time this suggestion has been discussing both in Turkey and in Azerbaijan from the different points of view. We'd like to know how this suggestion was met in Moscow and Washington.

Answer: You know that I really put forward this suggestion in Istanbul, in the Summit of OSCE. When putting forward this suggestion I told that I addressed to the United States of America, European Council, OSCE, Russia, Turkey and the other countries caring for the establishment of peace and security in the Caucasus that You all together secure the establishment of peace, security and cooperation in Southern Caucasus.

It is not simple affair. I can't tell that we have already derived a big encouragement for this matter. But I suppose that it is such a question that we must attain.

Paul Wolfowitz: I shall permit to two more questions. I consider that we are rivaling with people's supper-time. But I want that there also remain time after this measure for the unofficial talks of the President with some participators.

Question: My name is Alan Nur. I am the Chairman of the USA-Turkmenistan Business Council. Mr. President, for some contemplation, Your Government lends support to Trans-Caspian pipe line foreseen for the exportation of Turkmenistan gas to Turkey. I'd like to know about your opinions on your participation in this project and its significance. What negotiations are conducting at present with the neighboring States in this field?

Answer: First I want to tell that Turkmenistan and You are very tardy about it. It is already for several years this matter is on the agenda. But for some reason, my friend, President Saparmurad Niyazov hasn't adopted the categorical decision about it. Finally, in November of the last year, in Istanbul Summit of OSCE there was signed the Contract on Trans-Caspian pipeline. It was signed by Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. President Mr. Bill Clinton also supported it. We can't have any other opinion about it. But at the same time we want that the Azerbaijan gas be also exported by that gas pipe line in the future. It is possible and President Niyazov also gives a support to this opinion. Therefore the problem depends on you now. Will You hamper or accelerate the problem after that?

Question: I am a representative of Islam movement at this University. The leader of our movement Mr. Jan Kopari is engaged in the study of traditional Islam for the purpose of struggle against the stereotypes on Islam in different regions of the world, mainly in the United States of America. That is our aim is to get rid of the stereotypes and be engaged in the traditional teaching of Islam. It is clear that different Islamic sects have been spread in the Caucasus and Central Asia, too. We'd like to know whether you come into collusion with these difficulties in your country and what about your opinion about it?

Answer: First I want to tell that the State of Azerbaijan secures the liberty of conscience in Azerbaijan placing reliance in democratic principles. Three confessions- Islam, Orthodoxy Christian and Jewish ones act equally in Azerbaijan and they are in fairly close relations. Sometimes the leaders of these three confessions come to me together for meeting. That is to say there is not any conflict between these confessions from the religious point of view.

At the same time, we don't object to the activity of some missionaries. Really, there were committed some unlawful actions by police in Azerbaijan a few months ago. I staved them off immediately and declared that every confession had an equal right in Azerbaijan. But at the same time we don't give support to the sects propagating the terrorism, animosity or violence. We consider that the people mustn't be involved to any sect under compulsion by abusing them for their some material asperity or their other dependencies. The principle of liberty of conscience is one of our basic principles.

Paul Wolfowitz: Mr. President, we are very grateful that You allotted time for us. As we know that You are going to make a present for our school. If so, the TV cameras are here, let's do it.

Heydar Aliyev: I am presenting the painting work of one of the famous painters of Azerbaijan to your University reflecting the view of Baku. I suppose that it will resemble Azerbaijan and Baku at your University for ever.

Dear ladies and gentlemen! I state my infinite gratitude to You once again for my meeting with you. I thank You for your patient listening to me. The questions You asked me were very interesting. They allowed me to answer You more circumstantially. I am grateful to Ambassador Wolfowitz as he has organized this meeting. I am grateful to You and invite You to Azerbaijan. Thank You. 

The document was taken from the edition of  "Azerbaijan - USA on the Road of Friendship and Partnership"

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Azerbaijan - USA

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Azerbaijan - USA