Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan met Mr. Carey Cavanaugh, recently appointed US Co-Chair of the Minsk Group of OSCE - Presidential Palace, September 1, 1999

Heydar Aliyev: I`ve met today with the OSCE Representatives. I`ve had long talks with the OSCE Institute of Democracy. And now I am meeting the Representative of the OSCE Minsk Group. We must note that these delegations are different, but both are related to the OSCE.

I welcome you in Azerbaijan. As I know you have been appointed as the representative of US President and State Department in the Minsk Group. Thus, we will have a direct cooperation with you. I am very pleased that you are here. Please, I am listening to you.

Carey Cavanaugh: Mr. President. Thank You for the arm reception. I am very glad that I am in Azerbaijan again. I was in Azerbaijan four years ago. I regret that this conflict has not been resolved since my last visit to Azerbaijan. But I want to assure you that both the United States and the whole world community are ready to make utmost efforts to resolve this conflict. This topic has always been in my mind. We closely follow the recent positive changes and developments.

I know that this very conflict causes barriers for some economic progress in the Caucasian region. We believe that the resolution of this conflict can ensure excellent opportunities here for the economic growth, progress and development, in general.

Today I am in Azerbaijan, tomorrow I will be in Turkey. Then I will visit Armenia. I am speaking here as the special negotiator of the United States of America. Next week I will have a meeting with other co-chairs of the Minsk Group of OSCE in Oslo. The purpose of our visit to Oslo is to convey necessary information to Mr. Vollebeck, OSCE Chairman-in-office and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway before his expected visit to Baku.

Let me extend my gratitude to you for the reception. We hope that we shall co-operate with you, with your Government and your country in future in order to make progress on this issue.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I congratulate you on the occasion of your appointment to this responsible post. I hope you will be more active as the US representative than your predecessors in the Minsk Group in order to solve this issue.

In general, the Minsk Group has been very passive since the end of the last year and not only the Minsk Group, but also Russia, the US and France. We are concerned about it.

It is known that the Minsk Group presented a new proposal last November. The Group initiated a new formula including the principle of "the common state" in order to settle the Armenian - Azerbaijani conflict over Garabagh. We didn`t accept it and we can`t agree with it. Because we have repeatedly declared and those who made this proposal admit that adoption of this formula means granting the status of independence to Nagorno-Karabakh. I have repeatedly said - if you truly share this view, then say it openly that tNagorno-Karabakh should be given independence. Do not give it another name.

Naturally, Armenia accepted this principle, and a very unjust situation has emerged. Armenia accepted this formula and propagates it. Azerbaijan doesn`t accept it. And the Minsk Group is standing aside. We expected that after our refusal of this proposal the Minsk Group would produce a new proposal acceptable both for Armenia and Azerbaijan. But unfortunately, it didn`t happen.

There is another thing which worries us. It is known that the principles of the solution of the Armenian - Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh were defined in the OSCE Lisbon Summit in 1996. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and their representatives prepared a proposal based on the package principle of the solution. We agreed with it in general and in my meeting with US President Bill Clinton in August 1st of 1997 in the White House, Washington D. C. I declared that we accept this proposal. But Armenia did not agree. Then the Minsk Group immediately started to prepare a new proposal. It is natural and it demonstrated that the Minsk Group and its co-chairs really intensified their activities to solve this issue. They submitted a proposal on phase by phase solution of the issue in September or October 1997. Azerbaijan accepted it. Armenia was also very interested and pleased with this proposal. I met the Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan in the Summit of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in October 1997. We discussed it and even made a joint statement that hence we would make efforts for solving this problem on this principle.

But then the known to you developments took place in Armenia. The Government changed in the first half of 1998. The President resigned and a new president was elected. After that there was a long pause in the activity of the Minsk Group. At last, the Minsk Group submitted "the common state" formula in November 1998. After two months it will be one year after the submission of the proposal. We did not accept it. Armenia accepted it and propagates it.

The situation was complicated even so much that during the deliberations on the Baku - Jeyhan oil pipe-line in the US Congress some congressmen proposed to to ban the construction of the Baku - Jeyhan oil pipe-line if Azerbaijan does not accept "the common state" principle. It is known that this proposal didn`t pass. But the point is not that. The point is the fact itself. When we had twice accepted the Minsk Group proposals and Armenia refused, nobody blamed, accused, reproached, condemned Armenia for such a policy. But when we did not accept the Minsk Group proposal, statements were made against us and we were urged to accept this formula. That is why we have such impression that unjust principles exist in the Minsk Group as well. Then whom should we believe?

You know that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs were changed in early 1997 after the Lisbon Summit, and Russia, the US and France were appointed Co-chairs of the Minsk Group. We had great hopes in the US. We still hope. But regretfully two years have already passed; we still don`t see any effective action of the United States of America in this problem. Thus I have to say these words to you because you are the newly appointed US Representative. I believe that we should not waste time.

The OSCE Summit will be held in Istanbul in November. What shall we take to the Summit? What can the Minsk Group report to the Summit? You are going to visit Oslo for meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-office and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway. What will you say? I want to express my dissatisfaction about it as well.

Last year Poland chaired the OSCE and the OSCE Chairman-in-office and the Foreign Minister of Poland visited Azerbaijan and the whole region only in December. Now Norway chairs. We shall see the OSCE Chairman-in-office and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway only in September. It worries us, it worries our public.

You mentioned that you were here four years ago and you regret that there is no progress. I express my thanks for that. But it does not change anything. Of course, you express your feelings. But how long will our country, our people driven out of their home live in the refugee camps or in other hard conditions?

I`ve met with Armenian president Robert Kocharyan recently. These meetings are necessary. Because when the Minsk Group is passive we search alternatives. But it does not mean that if we had meetings, then the Minsk Group would not do anything. We must use all channels. We regard it as a duty. But the Minsk Group should think in this way as well.

That is why I ask you to convey our anxiety concerning the activity of the OSCE Minsk Group to your colleagues, as well as to OSCE Chairman-in-office in Oslo. I`ve tried to convey to you all what I think.

Carey Cavanaugh: Mr. President, thank you for your comments. I am grateful to you for that. I will certainly convey your message in Norway and naturally all you`ve said here will be taken into consideration by my colleagues from the Minsk Group. At the same time, I would like to express my gratitude for your cooperation with the Minsk Group, and then the Minsk Group could prepare its proposals on the basis of this cooperation.

I participated in the Lisbon Summit as well. As I know now the Minsk Group is working on several proposals. We have always been at the crossroads in some way whether to prepare new proposals or to work on the basis of the agreements reached by the parties concerned. We have always worked on the basis of observations in this case and in the solution of other conflicts. We must use all the variants; we must allow the parties to find the best key to unlock the door. Mr. President, but I fully agree it does not mean at all that the Minsk Group or the international community should remain passive. Of course, the conflict we are discussing here and which you are facing is to be resolved. We fully agree that we must use all the means in order to solve the problem.

Some changes have been made in the Minsk Group recently. A new negotiator has been appointed by Russia. I assume that he will visit Azerbaijan with Mr. Ivanov, Russian Foreign Minister. I`ve also been appointed recently. I cannot speak on behalf of Russi. But I want to say on my behalf that I will join this work with full energy.

I would also like to stress that I have always wanted to visit Azerbaijan and Armenia before my departure for Washington. Therefore, I strongly believe that it is necessary to perceive, to understand the situation here comprehensively in order to define the position of the OSCE in this issue. We want very much to learn from you what we can do in order to make progress in this problem.

Mr. President, you apparently know from your visit to the US and from your meetings with President Clinton, State Secretary Ms. Albright, and her Deputy Mr. Talbot that the United States of America is ready to do everything to solve this conflict.

Let me say at the end that I hope to see you often.

Heydar Aliyev: I also hope that we shall meet often. I would like to note that last time in April during my meetings in Washington both President Bill Clinton and State Secretary Ms. Albright assured me to make efforts for the solution of this issue soon. President Clinton even used such an expression that he has to solve this problem before the expiration of the term of his office. It gladdened me. I believe it. But nothing has been achieved yet.

We believe that the United States of America can take more effective steps toward the solution of the conflict. As I`ve said to you, and as you have also expressed this view, we use and shall use all means for the solution of the conflict. But if the parties could solve the problem themselves we would not need mediators. And mediators must not obstacle the talks between the parties, they do not do it. We should use both of them, that is the meetings of the parties and the efforts of the mediators.

You mentioned that now the Minsk Group is working over new proposals. I am pleased of that information and I am looking forward receiving them. I suppose this proposal will not be like the previous one.

Carey Cavanaugh: Mr. President, I can`t say that now those proposals are being developed or not. But anyhow the entire recent ongoing processes in the region are taken into account for the future preparations. Three proposals have been put on the table, now we hesitate whether to prepare new proposals or not. But I can say one thing: we are fully ready to take into account your advice, as well as the views of president Kocharyan. All of them will contribute to comprehensive resolution of the problem.

At the same time I express our readiness to help in cleaning mine, creating mutual confidence and in doing other things. It is very positive that the cease-fire has been observed since 1994 till the present. We are also ready to assist in improving the cease-fire regime, in avoiding tension between the parties. We were very glad when we heard that Defense Ministers would meet and negotiate for strengthening the cease-fire regime in the future.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, we made statements with president Kocharyan during our last meeting in Geneva that both Armenia and Azerbaijan would observe the cease-fire regime. In order to avoid incidents occurring regularly in the front line we instructed the Defense Ministers to meet and undertake necessary measures. I instructed the Defense Minister immediately after my return from Geneva. They met and talked last time during the CIS meeting in Astrakhan. The Defense Minister informed me that they would meet again in the nearest future.

Cleaning of mines, building of confidence or economic cooperation - all are natural, and we know them. But if the most important problem is not solved, talks about all these issues will bear an abstract nature. We can hold talks, but it will not be constructive. Because first of all, the most important problem is to be solved, that is to say, peace must be restored, the occupied lands must be liberated, an agreement must be reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the displaced Azerbaijani citizens must return home. This is the main condition. Then the mines will be cleared, the roads will be opened, economic cooperation will begin.

You mentioned the regional economic cooperation at the beginning of your talk. The economic cooperation is going on in the region. For example, we cooperate with Georgia, or we cooperate with other countries. Simply, we do not have economic cooperation with Armenia. We cannot cooperate with Armenia unless the conflict is settled. It is impossible. That is why, I want you to be fully aware. Let nobody think that if we cooperate, engage in commerce or trade, then everything will be fine. No, it is impossible.

Carey Cavanaugh: Mr. President, I understand all of them. Simply, when you say that you expect us to intensify our activities, I wanted to say that we wanted to work hard not only on the big peace agreement, but also on other problems.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, we know them. But first the most important problem must be solved. We have broad cooperation relations with the United States of America, we are solving issues which are of great importance for the future. The investments of the United States of America are coming here; its companies are implementing big projects here. By implementing them into life we want to demonstrate that we build friendship and cooperation with the United States of America, and we wish to expand this cooperation. But imagine, if the conflict had ended, if peace had been reached, this cooperation would have been even much broader.

Carey Cavanaugh: Mr. President, I would like to see more investments from the United States of America here and much broader economic contacts between Azerbaijan and the US. Of course, solution of the conflict is one of the main conditions to ensure it. The activities of the US companies in Azerbaijan have expanded in the recent years. The USA participates closely in the development of Azerbaijan and I hope You will witness our active participation in the economic progress here in the upcoming years.

I mentioned that I was here four years ago. Great changes have taken place in the streets of Baku and in the city itself in these four years. Before our meeting I said to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that Azerbaijan is a really rich country. Azerbaijan is rich and wealthy because its human resources, and its natural resources and it is necessary to develop them. We, the United States of America,will participate in the development of these resources.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.