The meeting of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the collaborators of the newspaper "New-York times" - 20 February, 2000

Mrs Jane Perles: Mr.President, we are very pleased that you allotted time to meet with us. I hope that our multiplicity won`t have an influence on You. We, five persons from the newspaper "New-York times" have come here to meet with You.

Heydar Aliyev: I am very satisfied. If You were ten persons, it would be better.

Jane Perles: You afforded the honor to us by your reception. We hope that we can go on to the direct talks with you. We`d like to put a question with reference to the problem concerning and disturbing everyone. It is connected with the oil of Azerbaijan. I`d like to know how you consider the variant of exportation of Azerbaijan oil through the territory of Iran. Is it possible that the Azerbaijan oil to be exported simultaneously through Iran in parallel to Baku-Ceyhan pipeline?

Heydar Aliyev: I comprehend so that the opinion in America is changed. Because I have been engaging in this affair for five years, I was never asked such a question in the United States of America. I was always asked about the exportation of oil in Western direction, via Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. But now You ask another question.

Journalist: Therefore Your reply is interesting for us.

Heydar Aliyev: I can tell it so that we have been engaging in implementation of the first Contract for five years signed by Azerbaijan with Western countries- this is called "The Contract of the Century" in the world. I tell proudly to-day that we have acquired great achievements. Some people didn`t believe in this Contract when we signed it in September, 1994 and some exerted pressures from the four winds, that is to say they were protesting against it. But we have undergone many severe trials, started the production and afterwards the exportation of oil.

It is natural that we always thought of the way of exportation of oil to the world markets after its extraction when we started the production of oil.

Therefore it was written simply there when we signed the Contract in 1994 that the oil extract­ed in Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea would be exported via Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. But nat­urally, we couldn`t have started at once the construction of Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. It is known to You that for that purpose we constructed Baku- Novorossiysk pipeline putting out to the port of Russia in the Black Sea in 1996-1997. In November, 1997 we already dispatched the first tankers from Novorossiysk port.

But we know that we needed one alternative variant additionally. Therefore we started to lay Baku-Supsa pipeline simultaneously to the port of Georgia in the Caspian Sea. In April of the last year we dispatched the oil tankers from the port of Supsa. Therefore we have got two chances now to export our produced oil in two directions. But both of them are in the ports of the Black Sea and the tankers must pass through Bosporus Strait. It is becoming complicated more and more.

Really, our pipeline passing through Russia, that is to say putting out to the port of Novorossiysk doesn`t operate normally. As You know, that pipeline was choked completely some time ago owing to the situation in Chechenistan. Therefore Baku-Supsa pipeline is very sig­nificant now.

But the oil production increases. In case we signed one contract in 1994, we have signed 19 contracts already on the fields being in Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea and ashore. There will be produced oil not less than 50-60 million tons per year in the future. Therefore we have always been engaged in Baku-Ceyhan pipeline which we consider it as the main export one.

You know that we, that is to say Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey signed the final contract in Istanbul in November of the last year, afterwards Kazakhstan also joined this affair, because it is planning to export its oil via this line by passing through the Caspian Sea. The President of the United States of America also put his sign to this Contract.

Therefore Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline is the basic export one for us and we are determined to complete its construction and we shall do it. There can`t be a shadow of doubt and it mustn`t be impugned by anybody. Really, after the conclusion of this contract some opinions are elucidated in the press and are evaluated from different points of view. But there is not any transcendent thing in this matter. Because there existed some people before who were against it or intending to use the other routes. Anyhow some countries state their different opinions about it pursuing their own ends or objects.

But there is a great deal of oil resources in the Caspian Sea, namely in Azerbaijan sector.

Therefore, when an opportunity occurs in the future, we can also export oil via the territory of Iran. There must be created a necessary condition for this purpose.

I suppose and You know that the sector of Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea isn`t rich only with oil, but with gas, too. Naturally we were aware of it, but first we attracted our attention to oil. But as a result of the works, that is to say the works having been done by us conjointly with the foreign countries there have been discovered more gas fields than we expected. For example, we can show the contract which we signed in 1996 for the purpose of conducting works in "Shahdaniz" deposit in the Caspian Sea. It is real that the American companies don`t take part in this contract. The companies "BP", "Statoil" are mainly participating there on the ground of which it is expected to extract 1 trillion cubic meters of gas. But we considered before that the resources would be 400 milliard cubic meters there. So, it is 2,5 times more, but it is not an utmost limit.

We have another field being closer to that field which is called "Absheron". We have con­cluded contract with the American company "Chevron" in order to operate it. The explorations having been held there in the latest two years show the availability of the resources of 3 trillion cubic meters of gas more than it is in "Shahdaniz" field. We see that we shall also discover great gas resources in the other oil fields.

Therefore the exportation of gas is one of the main problems raised before us. I suppose that we can also solve it. You know that a Contract has been signed in Istanbul for the purpose of exportation of Turkmenistan`s gas to Turkey via the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Georgia. We consider that a part of Azerbaijan`s gas must be also exported by Trans-Caspian pipeline.

A lot of things are expected in the future. Therefore I answer to your question that naturally Iran can be used for this purpose.

Question: In your estimation, can the territory of Iran be used more for exportation of gas or oil?

Answer: Both for oil and gas.

Question: When You say "future", how long do You see its term?

Answer: You see, I consider the future as five or ten years.....

Our contracts have signed for the term of 30-40 years. These works are not so easy. Because, after conclusion of the contract the geological-exploration works are conducted for the term of two or three years. After that process the volume of oil and gas being available there is deter­mined. Then the production process begins. For the purpose of starting of production process it is needed to fulfill some works, to lay pipes in order to reach oil or gas ashore, establish infra­structure. It is very difficult. I give advice to You to come to Azerbaijan, I`ll send You to the plat­form which we use in the field of "Chirag" by helicopter, You`ll see a beautiful view there.

If You want to get large information in the field of oil, the first Vice-president of Oil Company Ilham Aliyev is directly engaged in these affairs, he can give You additional informa­tion.

Question: Mr. President, You are going to meet with President Clinton in the forthcoming week. We`d like to know if there will be discussed the problem about the elimination of restric­tions imposed on your country for rendering of assistance by the USA as one of the important issues among the problems to be discussed at the meeting with President Clinton. If You mount this problem, will You envisage any privileges for Armenia then? For instance, what courtesies are You planning to make in the field of forming of an autonomous establishment in the struc­ture of Armenia or granting of autonomy to Mountainous Garabagh in the structure of Azerbaijan?

Answer: Yes, I am going to meet with Mr. Bill Clinton tomorrow. I have got a lot of words to talk to him. But the problem which You say, naturally, is very important for us. Because it is known to You that Armenian-Azerbaijan, Mountainous Garabagh conflict has been continuing for twelve years. Owing to some reasons, as a result of this conflict Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s territory.

You see this map. Here`s shown Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan being apart a little from Azerbaijan and being an integral part of Azerbaijan. There are painted parts of this map. The part painted with a red color is the former Mountainous Garabagh Autonomous Region in the structure of Azerbaijan.

Armenia started the conflict in 1988 for the purpose of annexation of Mountainous Garabagh to its structure. Azerbaijan protested against it. Because it is the territory of Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis lived in Mountainous Garabagh besides the Armenians.

But by all means Armenia tried to capture Mountainous Garabagh. So the war began. Blood is shed, battles are going on and for some reasons Armenian armed forces occupied Mountainous Garabagh fully in the first instance.

Furthermore, Armenia has broadened the war and occupied the regions not having any rela­tion to Mountainous Garabagh, the territory where wholly the Azerbaijanis live and painted by green and yellow colors on the map you see and situating around Mountainous Garabagh. All these unpainted places form 20 % of Azerbaijan`s territory and is situated under the occupation of Armenian armed forces. One million Azerbaijanis withdrawn forcedly from these places live in different regions of Azerbaijan at present which are shown on the map. Majority of them live under can­vases. Imagine that the people have been living under the canvases in hard condition for seven years.

In 1994 we stopped the battles or the fire and we came to agreement on cease fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But couldn`t have attained the solution of the problem by means of peace up to present time. You know that Minsk Group of OSCE is engaged in this problem and Minsk Group is headed by three big countries- Russia, the United States of America and France.

We want to settle the problem by means of peace. Some time, in 1996 It was also shown in the document adopted in Lisbon Summit of OSCE that Mountainous Garabagh would be granted a self-government right of high status in the structure of Azerbaijan, that is to say the right of autonomy and Armenian armed forces be withdrawn from the occupied territo­ries and Azerbaijanis being forcedly driven out from these lands would return their native homes and hearths. But Armenia doesn`t agree with it. Armenia wants that Mountainous Garabagh be granted the status and right of independence. We can`t agree with it. International law institutions and norms won`t agree with it. Because it means a full violation of Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity.

Touching upon the subject on elimination of the prohibition imposed on Azerbaijan I have to say that the most unjust resolution of the Congress was adopted in 1992 probably in the history of equitable and democratic country as America. This is the application of Article 907 of "Act for Support of Freedom".

What was the reason for it? It is commented that as if Azerbaijan put Armenia and Mountainous Garabagh into blockade. First, how can Azerbaijan put Armenia into blockade? Armenia is absolutely a different country. The talks are about the railway here. Yes, after a little time the war began, Armenian armed forces occupied 130 km of our frontier adjacent to Iran, the part of rail­way going from Azerbaijan, Baku to Yerevan. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic being a part of Azerbaijan has been put into blockade which was connected with Azerbaijan by means of railway and other roads.

Therefore we state that it is important to finish this conflict, give the mentioned status to Mountainous Garabagh and attain peace. But it is very urgent to eliminate absolutely Article 907 before this problem is settled. Because, in the first instance, it was adopted inequitably in 1992 and it attests that both the Government and Congress of the United States of America adopted very equitable and unjust resolution. Secondly, if You want that everything end, in this case Armenian armed forces should be withdrawn from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the ways be opened if Armenia considers that is situ­ated in blockade. But it is not in the blockade, it is developing very freely, its economic develop­ment is in the highest level via the ways of Iran and Georgia and other means. In the conditioned of above-mentioned case the way will be opened.

Question: Could You consider the idea of transference of Mountainous Garabagh to the controlling of international administration in order to put the kibosh on this conflict?

Answer: You see, there are many such ideas, but not only yours. We can consider each of them and make some acquiescence concerning these problems or hold out the olive branch. Though we have been struck by heavy blows all civil proper­ty of Azerbaijan has been destroyed in the occu­pied territories. One million nationals of Azerbaijan have been deprived of their own wealth and property. How many people perished. Notwithstanding all of them we want peace. Naturally the peace can be obtained only under the acquiescence to be made both by Azerbaijan and Armenia.

But Armenia occupies very non-constructive position: "Mountainous Garabagh be granted independ­ence" They don`t any other status. There are sev­eral forms of independence in the world. We offer to adopt any You like. But they say that they don`t adopt any status existing in the world, they demand independence.

Question: Mr. President, there have been com­mitted attempts on your life for several time and You collided with dangers. I`d like to know who has connection at these danger and attempts? Are they, in your thinking, your internal opponents or Moscow? Having touched upon the Moscow sub­ject, I`d like to ask You if the appearance of Putin and his furtherance would help the development of Azerbaijan-Russian relations.

Answer: You see, after Azerbaijan has got the State independence in 1991 there were attempts to armed coup d`etat thrice. Finally, there was formed a critic situation in Azerbaijan in June, 1993, that is to say the civil war started and Azerbaijan disintegrated.

Namely at that time I was invited to Azerbaijan for leadership. I undertook to be at the head of Azerbaijan. Besides that, in October, 1994 there was committed a great armed coup d`etat. In March, 1995 a big armed group attempted to kill Heydar Aliyev and precipitate the power. When coming back home from the foreign visit in 1995 there was attempted to crash my plane, natu­rally, to assassinate against me and change the power in Azerbaijan. In 1996 there was attempt­ed an assassination against me by detonating the bridge going to the airport from Baki under which 200 kg of trotyl was placed. I had to accompany the President of the Ukraine Leonid Kuchma at that time. In December, 1996 another group of terrorists tried to capture my Residency in Azerbaijan and commit coup by killing me.

Naturally, all of them had been organized by the special service agencies of foreign countries and by the criminals within the Republic of Azerbaijan. We have got a lot of conclusive evidence and arguments that Head Intelligence Agency at the Ministry of Defense of Russia carried the ball a lot. It is very dangerous organization. I have written openly about it to President Boris Yeltsin.

The second of the question is about the new leader of Russia Putin. Naturally, we want that normal relations be established between Russia and Azerbaijan, no attempt be committed against the independence of our country and we would have very friendly relations and vast coopera­tion with Russia. Hereby I don`t mean to tell that our relations with Russia are in the hostile and very tense condition. But we want really that there be very amicable relations.

For instance, one of our main discontents with Russia is that Russia delivers a great deal of weaponry to Armenia which is in conflicting situation with us. It was known to the government bodies of Russia in 1997 that Russia supplied different weapons and materiel secretly to Armenia within the previous three years in value of one milliard US Dollars.

Question: The biography of Mr. Putin is also connected with the intelligence services. But at present he is appearing by the ideas to implement economic reforms in Russia. Do you see any upswing biases in Russian-Azerbaijan relations by the rise of Putin to power?

Answer: You see, if anybody`s past is connected with the intelligence, it doesn`t have any significance for his political activity. Your former President George Bush also directed Central Intelligence Agency. It is not of any vital importance. I also served in security bodies in the past. It is not a negative feature for anybody at all.

You are asking me about Putin and I can tell regarding with him that he is a very prominent figure in the political platform of Russia at present. I think that Putin will win office in the forth­coming ballots and I cherish hopes to the far-reaching development of Azerbaijan-Russian rela­tions at his presidency. I have met with Putin and I see him as a person being capable to follow the clever, pragmatic and balanced policy.

Question: How much, in your opinion, have You approached the elimination of Article 907?

Answer: I don`t know how much the Government and Congress have approached. It does­n`t depend on us, it depends on them.

Correspondent: They haven`t approached much.

Answer: What can I do? President Clinton has stated for several times, as well as it was also written in the declaration signed conjointly by us in 1997 that Article 907 must be eliminated. State Secretary Mrs. Albright stated her opinion about the liquidation of Article 907 when appeared in Congress a few days ago. There is not any result.

I say once again that we consider America as an equitable State and country. America must begin to think that it can`t be tolerated to commit such an unjust case from its side furthermore.

Question: Mr. President, have You conducted direct negotiations with Congressmen in order you would achieve your goals in the Congress? Which of the Congressmen is considered to be earnest by You to conduct negotiations on the subject of this affair?

Answer: I have conducted a lot of talks with them. I have been in the Congress for several times in Washington. Many of the Senators, members of the Chamber of Representatives visited to Azerbaijan and I have conducted a lot of talks with them. There are people among them com­prehending that Article 907 is unjust and attempts are made. For instance, the Congressmen King or Sam Brownback tells not only words, but also represented concrete programs.

For instance, in April of the last year Sam Brownback organized a large Conference in the Senate about the Silk Road project. 9 President participated there: Kazakhstan, Girghizistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Romania. Samuel Berger, Baker, Bzhezinski and all Presidents gave a report there. Everyone considered that the Silk Road proj­ect and the project of Sam Brownback are significant for America. Naturally, if this project is realized, some provisions of Article 907 will be weakened though it is not eliminated fully. But the Congress hasn`t adopted such a project being favorable for America.

Question: I am going to put my last question. Will your suggestion on granting of autonomy to Mountainous Garabagh and if it is possible your consent for submission of this autonomy for the con­sideration of international administration serve the purposes of elimination of Article 907?

Answer: You see, our problem of Mountainous Garabagh doesn`t only consist of Article 907. Our problem of Mountainous Garabagh serves the peacemaking purposes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is rehabilitated, there will be peace, security and tranquility in Southern Caucasus.

About 100 companies from the United States of America act in Azerbaijan. The investment in sum of 5 milliard US Dollars approximately has been put in Azerbaijan within five years. Only the oil companies of the USA have put the investment in Azerbaijan in amount of 1 mil­liard and 700-800 million US Dollars. It will be increased in the future. That is to say America leagues to Southern Caucasus. Southern Caucasus means Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

But Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict and absence of peace encumbers the problems. Our purpose is this, Article 907 is a collateral issue. Why do we put forward the issue of Article 907 so acute­ly today. Because while this tremendous problem isn`t settled, Article 907 administers great shocks on Azerbaijan.

America renders financial assistance to all emergent nations for the following: 100 million US Dollars to Armenia, Georgia and the others per year. But Azerbaijan is deprived of this aid. The matter lies so.

Correspondent: You have devoted a lot of time to us this morning. We are grateful to You for your replies to our questions and finding time for us.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You. I am very satisfied that I have met with You. Your newspaper is famous not only in America, but the world over and it`s a newspaper having an influence on world`s society. I wish You and generally to all journalists that your newspaper be equitable and objective not to reiterate the inequity of the Congress. Thank You.

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