From the Conversation of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the outstanding writer, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Italy and Greece - Oljas Suleymenov - Presidential Palace, March 4, 1999

 Oljas Suleymenov: I`m very glad to see you, as we have not met for years. But, I have always followed your activity. I listened to your speech yesterday.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, many years have passed since we last met - ten years, may be even more.

Oljas Suleymenov: Then I was here at Fizuli`s anniversary. I remember you said: "Oljas, not only Kazakhs need you, but Azerbaijanis also need you".

Heydar Aliyev: Oljas, I`m very glad to see you here. In Azerbaijan you are considered as a great friend of our people. Naturally, I think the same of you, you are the friend of both the Azerbaijani people and mine as well. We feel great respect to you. You are very popular in Azerbaijan both as a writer and as a statesman. We remember your activity when Azerbaijan was occupied in January, 1990, and we highly appreciate it, we remember when you arrived here on the second day after the intrusion of the soviet troops into Baku.

You arrived here, made a speech and condemned all this. In Azerbaijan all this is remembered very exactly.

We are tied by a longtime friendship. At that period, when I worked here in Azerbaijan, and you - in Kazakhstan, and then when I worked in Moscow I always followed you with a feeling of a great pride because of the fact that our peoples have such outstanding and talented persons who write novels, plays or other literary works and at the same time think about our peoples, their fate, past, present and future. You are one of such outstanding representatives of our peoples, and they have already known more about their historical roots, their historical past, and their national originality and dignity. In those years you were young, you displayed great maturity in these questions than others did. It`s a well known fact. I myself have always followed your activity, your life road, and as matter of fact, besides your literary talent, your personality aroused in me the feelings of great respect, kindest and friendly feelings. And I`m so glad that you haven`t forgotten Azerbaijan, arrived here so unexpectedly that it was surprise. Yesterday, in the second half of the day I was reported about your arrival. Of course, I was very pleased. I immediately asked how long you were going to stay here, and I was answered that very little. I was upset then. Nevertheless, I`m glad to our meeting. By the way, you are as handsome as ever. So, you are welcome.

Oljas Suleymenov: Thank you, Mr. President. I arrived here unexpectedly. I was flying to Rome via Istanbul, and just phoned to Azerbaijan and said that I had two days, and I would like to pay visit and asked if Heydar Aliyev was in his place. I was answered that You were. So, I arrived.

Heydar Aliyev: I have always treated, treat and I will treat you with great respect, I highly appreciate you as a person, as a statesman in the whole former Soviet Union, Azerbaijan and all the Turkic world. I think if then, in 1990, you were here, then it wouldn`t have happened. I mean the Tragedy in January.

I remember when I heard about it, it was 3 o`clock at the night. I was reported by the writers. Then I was ill with high temperature and cold, staying in the hotel "Moscow". But, though I was ill, I got up and arrived here. Of course, it wouldn`t be appropriate of me to say that I was ill. I couldn`t stay out of this trouble.

I arrived and tried to share the grief and the pain of my friends, of my native Azerbaijan. Since then the memories of those days and of that trouble are with me, and they arouse the feelings of hatred against those who committed them. I saw the first refugees and today I want to visit their camps and to speak to them, to be aware of their hopes and sufferings. We can`t be indifferent to all this.

Today I again meet You and Azerbaijan. I`ll tell my friends from other countries about what I saw and felt here, in Azerbaijan. I want to express my love to this land, to its people and to You personally, to all the outstanding sons of Azerbaijan, and I wish to this native to me country to overcome the difficulties very soon. I wish you to remove all of them. Optimism of the people and leaders cherishes the hope that everything will be settled, that with the help of other peoples, of their desires and hopes the sun will shine here again. Azerbaijan is worth of it. This is what I wanted to say to You.

Heydar Aliyev: I appreciate your initiative. I`d like you to stay here longer. But anyway, as you have desired to be in Azerbaijan, we shall try arrange your meeting with the refugees, who live in tents and to see other things. The most important for us is your attention to our country, our people, which you have expressed by your arrival.

When I see you, certainly I remember many things which took place in the past. I remember how courageously and bravely you raised in your poetry, you raised problems, you appealed to the subjects which we needed then, and which appreciate highly today, too. Those problems are of great importance now when the peoples of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have gained their independence and have become sovereign states.

I also remember December, 1986, when I was a member of Politburo. By the way, I`d like to note that it was the first political aggression against the peoples which were a part of the Soviet Union. As I was a member of Politburo, I expressed my protest when M.Gorbachev decided to send Kolbin to Kazakhstan as the first secretary of CC. I was filled with anxiety, because he had already committed injustice towards the North Caucasian republics, I mean that he replaced the local officials by men of Russian nationality. Then in December, 1986 he did the same in Alma-Ata. I remember the commission which was sent to Kazakhstan, led by Solomencev, known to you by his previous activity in Kazakhstan, and I remember the decision which was adopted.

I disclosed my opinion very sharply. We had serious disagreements with him in the questions of national policy led by M.Gorbachev. Unlike his predecessors, he was very negative about the Moslem peoples of Turkic origin. It was intolerable to attend the meetings of Politburo, especially when they were very "narrow". For instance, when in Uzbekistan there was a campaign against the late Sharaf Rashidov, innocent people were imprisoned. Every week at the meeting there was approved a list of men from different regions of the Russian Federation for being sent to Uzbekistan. I asked: "What for?" I was answered that there were not enough people with the skill of administrators in Uzbekistan, though it was a highly developed country.

All this brought to the fact that in Kazakhstan with so many professionals in the republic, with such cadres, there wasn`t a man of local nationality to head the republic, and Kolbin was sent there.

This is all about the December of 1986. Then within less than in year, I retired from all the posts. Such a jugglery with Kazakhstan terribly affected me, and in essence it was the culmination of our conflict with Gorbachev. By the way, when was in Kazakhstan on an official visit, I told about it to Nursultan in the parliament.

The most astonishing was the fact that Gorbachev was disinforming the Politburo. He said as if no one in Kazakhstan wanted a person of the local nationality be the leader. Once he even said that as if Kunaev had come and said that there was no one in Kazakhstan and asked to send someone from Moscow. Such false information was given by him. But what could we do? We couldn`t recheck it, because he was telling all this at the meeting of Politburo. Once after the discussion of the question I went to his room and said that I couldn`t stay indifferent in these matters. I said that he was doing wrong, that it was 1986, not 30`s or 40`s. Even in the 30`s Kazakhstan was headed by Shahahmetov - a man of local nationality. And how could it be that in 1986 in Kazakhstan, such a huge republic with plenty of cadres, there wasn`t a man of local nationality? His chauvinistic position was vividly seen in his activities.

As a matter of fact, later in the February of 1988 the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan burst out because of the Naghorno - Karabakh. To speak frankly, I repeatedly said everywhere that Gorbachev was its initiator. He reassured the Armenians who appealed to him to join the Naghorno - Karabakh to Armenia. He agreed with them, and then they raised their heads. But when they raised their heads Gorbachev could still prevent it, as the Soviet Union still existed then. You know, in the previous stages of history there were attempts to raise the question of the Naghorno - Karabakh. I have worked here as the leader of the republic for 14 years, and during this period they raised this question several times. Each time we discussed it and proved that it was impossible and illegal to join the Naghorno - Karabakh to Armenia, and the question was solved objectively. But this time he intentionally provoked this question and initiated it. And here is the tragedy as a result, which has already lasted for 10 years.

As a matter of fact, after the birth of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia the other conflicts burst out, too, I mean the Georgian - Abkhazian and Georgian - Ossetian conflicts, and the same about Chechnya, Moldova. All they appeared after, as it was a chain reaction, which has always existed in history. The first was the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Gorbachev was guilty in the birth of all these conflicts, which have become so insoluble today. When I see you, I remember the whole past.

Oljas Suleymenov: All this is the consequence of unprofessional policy. When the professionals retired, the vacuum was filled by unqualified politicians. Political ignorance leads to the tragedies of millions of people. So, I think that professionals of your class, of your ability must lead the peoples in this difficult period of independence, because such a chance emerges once in thousand years and we can`t miss it. We should use it in order to allow the people to strengthen the independence, sovereignty of their countries. And I wish the next generations of our peoples were heirs of independent countries, really free and proud. Of course, a great contribution to this is made by the leaders like You, Heydar Aliyev. I wish you more health and energy, to excite tribunes as you did it yesterday. I saw how the youth was greeting You. And this unity of experience and the warmth in the youth tell of many things. I wish you health, happiness, luck and success.