Interview of Heydar Aliyev with the journalists at Bina Airport - 14 April, 2001

What you are interested in the visit is its results. Of course, we may speak a lot of it, but I can briefly say that everything is all right. It was an important visit, we did a lot during the visit and I am very much pleased with its results. Now I am at home. Do you have questions?

Question: Mr. President, when you began the negotiations you severely criticized the co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group of OSCE. Did the co-chairpersons derive any inferences?

Reply: Well, I think you have read my statement. On the first day of the meeting, in the opening ceremony, it is true that there was not a big hall or something like that for making a statement. I think you have watched the TV, we were sitting at a round table. But the co-chairpersons felt that I shall criticize them, because it was not the first time. They passed a word to me that there is no need to criticize. But I said the truth. After my statement nobody said anything, but whether they have derived inferences, or not, it is to be seen in future.

Question: Mr. President, what were the compromise limits of Azerbaijan and to what compromises were Armenia ready?

Reply: You know, there are no limits there. You must know that Azerbaijan declared its position to the whole world in a remote and small island in Florida, which is very far from Azerbaijan. I know that many big information agencies of the world and periodicals disseminated my statement, some of them disseminated only those parts of my statement, which thought them to be necessary. Anyhow, the statement has been spread. Therefore, despite various rumors and distortions, the position of Azerbaijan, the position of Azerbaijan as a state and the position of its president have found their reflection in the statement. The statement reflects the truth. It is as true when it concerns the beginning of the conflict, the processes which followed interference of OSCE into the solution of the conflict in 1992, the activities of co-chairpersons and non-fulfillment of the charged mission to the end on the part of OSCE. Therefore, the statement contains all the said.

Question: Mr. President, saying in general, are you pleased with the results of the meeting?

Reply: You know, I can`t say that I have been displeased with the results of any meeting. It is better to meet each other, or not? Of course, it is better to meet. Each meeting, each visit naturally has its own importance. You know how difficult and complicated is the Armenian-Azerbaijani, the Daghlig Garabagh conflict for Azerbaijan. I have expressed all of this in the statement.

It is possible not to meet anyone and not to have any result. But any meeting brings forth a new progress, creates a new imagination. For instance, sometimes, not sometimes, all the time, I think that this conflict is by and by being forgotten. In general, when the conflicts emerge and continue, the world public focuses its attention on it, that is, when the battles are waged, when blood is shed. Now there is a cease-fire, though the conflict has not yet been solved, but it is gradually forgotten. Take just the Middle East conflict. For instance, when the Israeli and Palestinians fight, fire at each other, or when they bomb each other, or when something like that happens, the world public awakens. Now the conflict has not yet been solved. When there is a silence in the conflict, by and by it loses its acuteness, it is excluded from the agenda.

As we signed a cease-fire agreement in 1994, the Armenian - Azerbaijani conflict is slowly being forgotten. Just this meeting has attracted the attention of all the world countries to the conflict, I can say, during this meeting the Azerbaijani President declared to the world who was the instigator of the conflict, who incited the aggression, who is guilty, what the present state of Azerbaijan is, how many refugees Azerbaijan has, how many per cent of the Azerbaijani territory has been occupied. This, naturally, reminds the conflict to the world public, to political public, to political media, to the state agencies and others. There are cases there that people do not know where the Daghlig Garabagh is, but write about it. I have read much of identical cases, but can not remember in what newspaper it was.

The greatest importance of this meeting is proved by such a fact that we declared to the world that Armenia is guilty in the conflict, that Armenia has occupied the Azerbaijani territories, that over a million of Azerbaijanis have been driven forcibly out of their homes and become refugees. For instance, on the plane I was reading "The New-York Times". It was written there clearly that the Armenians have begun the conflict. The newspaper says that the number of refugees is 800 000, that is possible, since we always take into account the refugees from Armenia, too, therefore, the figure is over a million. The Azerbaijani territories have been occupied, the Azerbaijanis have been driven out of the occupied territories. It is impossible to disseminate such information, such articles on TV, in newspapers. This itself is the result of the meeting, this is how we demonstrate to the world the situation in Azerbaijan and its position. Because we must confess, that the Armenian Diaspora being one of the strongest in the world, being able to exert pressure on the leading countries, they have. created such an imagination just from the beginning of the conflict that the guilty in it are the Azerbaijanis and Azerbaijan. Because the Azerbaijanis "have tortured", "terrorized", "humiliated", I don`t know what else to say, "the poor, miserable" Armenians. Now we disclose the truth, and we do it on a level that the whole world sees it, I was looking through newspapers there and on the plane, how much information, how many articles in periodical, over TV and radio, in f internet, in news releases of state agencies. All of them are in favor of Azerbaijan. This is the first part of the problem.

The second part of the problem is, of course, to look for the ways of solution of the problem. Therefore, I think that the meeting was very important.

Question: Mr. President, the Armenian President Robert Kocharyan has declared that a number of agreements have been achieved in the negotiations. If it is not a secret, what can you say about them? He has said that the conflict will be solved in package and some documents will be signed in Geneva.

Reply: You know, everyone bears responsibility for his own words. When I say something, Kocharyan does not say that, when Kocharyan says something, I do not say it. I do not say, because there was nothing to say there. I prefer to keep silent, when the problem is not close to its solution, that is in my nature, I do not like to disclose the details.

Question: Mr. President, one of the co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group Cavanaugh said that the co-chairpersons are working to draw the representatives of the Armenian community of the Daghlig Garabagh to the process of negotiations. Did they make any proposals about it in the negotiations?

Reply: No proposals were made. There has not been anything on the participation of the representatives of the Armenian community of the Daghlig Garabagh in the process of negotiations.

Question: Mr. President, how do you appreciate your meeting with President Bush?

Reply: Very highly, very highly. We have been cooperating with the administration of President Clinton. Anyhow, we cooperated with them seriously for seven years. I have not once met them. Now a new president has been elected, the administration is new. Naturally, they know the essence of our problem, but they have not been engaged in it so much. Therefore, this meeting is very important. At the same time we must take into account that the meeting was participated not only by President Bush, but his whole team - Vice - President Cheney, State-Secretary General Colin Powell, President`s Advisor on National Security Condoleezza Rice and other persons having direct reference to such things. That is, they form the main team of the president. They all were taking part in the meeting. It is evidence that they pay great attention to this problem, they are interested in it. And the meeting passed well.

Question: Mr. President, will you meet Robert Kocharyan in Moscow before going to Geneva?

Reply: We have not planned such a meeting.

Question: Mr. President, how did your unexpected statement influence the negotiations?

Reply: I think it had a positive impact.

Question: Your visit to the United States brought to nil the work done by the Armenian lobby for many years. But some destructive forces in the opposition in Azerbaijan are not ashamed of telling red lies. What would you like to recommend them as a man of wisdom?

Reply: What can I recommend them? There is nothing new in what they say. Had there been anything new, I would have said something, or where such things come from, or why it is so. We have got accustomed to such things. If they tell red lies, let them do.

Question: Mr. President, there was the statement of the State Department of the United States which introduces Armenia as an aggressor. Did it influence the position of Armenia in the negotiations?

Reply: Yes, it did. Look here, youwill follow your own words, won`t you? That is, you will write what is wrong and what is true, won`t you? That means that you say it, but do not follow it, do not propagate the truth. You make a mountain out of a molehill. Look here, this man tells the truth. The first part of your question to me proves that the meeting had a great importance and the State Department characterized Armenia as an aggressor. You are to write both of the facts. The demand of democracy is not a one-sided, biased approach to things and events. The demand is to call a spade a spade, criticize, point out the mistakes, but do not hide what is true, the reality, there is a saying in Azerbaijani: only the grave may straighten the humpbacks.

Question: Mr. President, can Iran join this process?

Reply: The future will show it.

Question: Mr. President, do you exclude non-peaceful solution of the conflict after the negotiations in Key West?

Reply: You know, this is a thing which can never be excluded. But I do not feel a need for war yet.

You know, sometimes you feel that peace is very close and sometimes you feel that it is too far. Anyhow, I have been busy with the solution of this conflict day and night for over seven years, and I know how much difficult and complicated it is. I disclosed it clearly in my statement there. It is difficult for us to solve the conflict peacefully, through negotiations, because Armenia has occupied 20 per cent of the Azerbaijani territory, therefore it uses this superiority in the negotiations. Unfortunately, most people in Azerbaijan do not understand it. Some people understand, but explain it on the contrary.

Now, imagine, we have gone and occupied a part of Armenia. Would have it been easy for us? No, it wouldn`t. Now, they have come and occupied. It is the reality, therefore, everything is difficult here.

Question: Mr. President, you had fished with Robert Kocharyan when you were on board of the ship in the Mexican Gulf. They say that Kocharyan fished three of them. Does it mean that they have already exhausted their proofs and are wasting their energy on fishing?

Reply: You are joking. But really they say that Kocharyan has fished there. But he was not fishing with me. In general, I am not a man to be engaged, fond in fishing. If you mean the stroll by the town, then the cruise on board of the ship, it was simply arranged by the USA government for our relaxation. We were talking, resting there, somebody was having coffee, and some others ice cream.

Question: Did the unofficial situation exert a positive impact on the negotiations.

Reply: Unofficial situations emerge everywhere. You know, if the official situations had helped such difficult negotiations, then they would have arranged tens of unofficial situations.

Question: Mr. President, what does the fair solution of the problem mean for Azerbaijan?

Reply: There is no need to answer what the fair solution of the conflict means for Azerbaijan.

Question: Mr. President, has the principle of "common state" been excluded from the agenda, or will some of its elements be employed?

Reply: We are not discussing it.

Question: Mr. President, what is the reason of your not having tete-a-tete official meetings with Kocharyan?

Reply: There was no need for them. Because we all were there and having meetings. There was no need for us to meet tete-a-tete. I think that the superiority of the meeting this time was its format chosen in advance, I noted it particularly in my statement. According to this format, the meetings were participated by the co-chairpersons, the two presidents and the delegations, all of us were together.

For instance, I have met Kocharyan in different countries and cities. But this meeting was arranged not by us, it was opened not by us, but by the State Secretary Colin Powell. It was like that for the first time in the process of peaceful solution of the conflict. It is an evidence that a new stage is beginning in this process.

Question: Mr. President, can we assume that any agreement may be signed in Geneva?

Reply: I don`t think thatsomething will be signed there.

Question: Mr. President, relying on diplomatic sources of Russia, the Armenian mass media disseminate such information that the district of Lachin will be joined to the territory of the will-be-created state together with the Daghlig Garabagh. Instead of it the corridor of Mehri will be opened, it will join Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan, and the corridor will be controlled by the international peacemaking forces.

Reply: You know, as in Azerbaijan there are also people in Armenia who write their thoughts in newspapers, or invent things. Am I to answer to all kinds of such inventions? I know what is happening and what is not.

Question: Mr. President, the armed forces of Armenia had military training exercises in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, too. How can it be explained? Can it be appreciated as a pressure on Azerbaijan?

Reply: We were having the same, haven`t you heard? Even I was informed that when the helicopters flew in the bordering territories, on the other side of the border some people packed their things for immediate departure.

Question: Mr. President, once you said that the word "miatsium" united the Armenian people. Isn`t there an Azerbaijani word to unite the Azerbaijani people, too?

Reply: There is. But it is not one word. It is the unity of the Azerbaijani people, liberation of the Azerbaijani territories, restoration of its territorial integrity by supporting each other, by pursuing a direct road. They say it in one word, but I expressed it by several words. There is such a word, but it is not used like that in Azerbaijani. We have not striven for it. I see that some people try to make use of it for their own purposes, for political purposes, I mean the political forces. That is all. Now some people say to begin the war. Well, go and begin. Those who say it will not go even close to that. It is all lie.

Question: Mr. President, when returning from Key West, in the Zvartnos Airport Kocharyan said that "the package solution" is being discussed, in June the necessary document may be signed. Isn`t the non-observance of secrecy on his part an attempt to violate the negotiations and being afraid to share the fate of Ter-Petrosyan?

Reply: I do not know whether he has violated the secrecy. Anyhow, his statement will not harm the future negotiations at all. Have you a substantial question?

Reporter: Mr. President, after the fire in the TV Channel "Saman yolu", our bureau has resumed its activities. Please, what do you wish us?

Heydar Aliyev: I wish successes to you. Thank you.