From the conversation between President of the Azerbaijan Republic Heydar Aliyev with Norwegian traveller Thor Heyerdahl and accompanying him persons - Presidential Palace, September 2, 2000

Heydar Aliyev: Welcome to Azerbaijan once again! I consider You a big friend of Azerbaijan. I remember that in the past, in 1981, when Azerbaijan was not independent yet, You showed interest in Azerbaijan and came here first. That time, I was also a leader of Azerbaijan.

I can remember You had friendly and warm relations with my elder brother, academician Hassan Aliyev. That time, we met and thoroughly talked. We also repeatedly met in the succeeding years. I am very glad that I could meet you in Oslo and visit Your museum.

You are probably told that each time when Norwegian delegation comes here, I send You my regards. And this time as I can see, You have also arrived together with a representative delegation. I have heard that Your people make here very valuable archeological researches. All this means the development of relations between our countries and people. These are basically the contacts in a scientific sphere.

As You know, after Azerbaijan gained state independence, very close interstate cooperation was established between Azerbaijan and Norway. Norwegian "Statoil" Company carries out extremely huge work here. Not only "Statoil", but also more than 30-40 Norwegian companies, if I am not mistaken, operate here and an envoy of the ambassador perhaps knows about that. These contacts are developing.

While I visited Oslo, we signed an agreement on the development of relations between Norway and Azerbaijan with the Prime Minister. I had very important talks with the king of Your country. In the period when Prime Minister of Your country, Mr. Stoltenberg was the Minister of Energetics, he repeatedly visited Azerbaijan. And it means that there are economic links between Azerbaijan, independent Azerbaijan state and Norway.

I am very glad that Norwegian companies along with economic activity carry out in Azerbaijan humanitarian work as well, and render assistance to some fields of science and education. All this even greater brings our countries together and creates friendly relations.

When we met with You in Baku 20 years ago, few people in Norway except You knew that Azerbaijan existed and what kind of country it was. Many did not know about that, as Azerbaijan was not an independent state, it was the republic within the Soviet Union. But now, Azerbaijan is well-known in Norway and Norway is also well-known in Azerbaijan.

Two days ago, I on occasion switched on the TV and saw in the "Utro" program that our art workers - singer Nazpari Dostaliyeva and Siyavush Karimi were in Norway, did there a great deal of good things and performed there songs together with a Norwegian chorus.

Polad Bul-Buloglu (Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan): Mr. President, they gave there a number of concerts.

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, it is very interesting. You see, how our relations have enlarged. However, I together with You laid the foundation of it in 1981. I think in XXI century, these links will find even a greater development. Both You and I will play a key role in the development of these contacts.

You are welcome! I am a little aware of the reasons for Your present visit, but I would like to hear it from You. Please.

Thor Heyerdahl: Mr. President, the same way as You, I can remember very well our first meeting. That was a time when we were both friends and enemies in this intricate world. In that period I was educated and taught in the West. We were educated in the spirit that all the people living in the West were good, but those, living in East were bad.

During that, hardest period, German Nazis unexpectedly occupied my country. Then Germans made one more mistake having attacked the Soviet Union. I joined the free Norwegian armed forces and was a parachutist there. I was sent to the Arctic for the first time. During the war, the Soviet Union suddenly became our ally, but Germany was an enemy. Having landed by parachute in Murmansk, I together with Russian Soviet troops entered Norway. Then I understood that all these people were the same as Americans, the English, and also Norwegians themselves. I was invited to Moscow several times during the "cold war" and the defence of my scientific thesis was arranged in Moscow, in the Academy of Sciences.

Thus, my personal contacts with Russian and other Soviet scientists has started exactly since that time. During that priod, I met artists, farmers and people, working in various spheres of life. My contacts with Moscow got crowned with my rewarding with Lomanisov medal. Then I was accepted a member of Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. At the same time, I was a member of New-York Academy.

At that time, along with numerous friends I met in the West, I also found many friends in the East and I was invited to the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. We all knew that director of the Institute of Geography of Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences, academician Hassan Aliyev was a brother of the country`s leader. It is surprising that we straight away became close friends with him. I should note that I visited Azerbaijan`s regions and its different parts together with Your brother. I first heard from him the idea that the relations between our countries had very longstanding roots. On his initiative, I visited Gobustan, got acquainted with inscriptions existed there and started to compare them with inscriptions existing in Norway.

Then, as a result of reiterated visits to Your country, I began arriving at such a conclusion that it was quite possible that I would have to study the roots of relations between our countries by river systems - from the Caspian Sea along the Volga, the Don and from there, across the Baltic Sea to Norway.

I should also say that a small island named Iceland drew my attention to Azerbaijan again. At that time, the President of Iceland invited me and my spouse Jacqueline to his country and asked to become familiar with just translated sagas. After this acquaintance, my hypotheses that 800 years ago, there was a geographical proximity between Iceland with the surrounding region and Caucasia with its territories, being Turkic lands, started to be confirmed. Further researches directly proved that as far back as in the period of vikings, the links and contacts between our countries existed. In IX century, Iceland separated from Norway and since that time, all the documents connected with Iceland have been preserved.

Later, I continued my cooperation with scientists of other countries of the world. Today, as a result of huge and detailed researches, I arrived at a conclusion that the history of contacts between our countries is more ancient than in the period of vikings. Thus, the pbject of my present visit to Your country is a joint work with your scholars who may provide and acquaint me with historical data related to an earlier period than the time of vikings, and to cooperate with your scientists in this field. As a result of the information obtaibed, I came to a conclusion that the royal families existing in Scandinavian countries sprang exactly from Azerbaijan. Their ancestry descended and came from this land, this country in the first century of B.C. or in Anno Domini.

Mr. President! Along with all this, I consider it my duty to mention that I am also very glad of the development and reinforcement of relations between our countries in such a broad aspect after I was afforded the honour of meeting You. I am very pleased that great number of more and more intimate relations are established between our countries.

I know that in Your country, the information about our country is spreading more broadly and familiarity with our country has increased among people from the lowest and up to the highest state level. I can say the same about Norwegians. I will also stress that just after Your oficial visit to Norway, the information about Azerbaijan is spreading in our country more widely. People know Azerbaijan better now. During my private talk with the king of our country, he told me that he could remember well a meeting with You and asked me to give his personal regards if I saw You again.

Thus, I wish and hope that the relations between Norway and Azerbaijan will henceforth develop and enlarge. Not 30, but more than 30 companies and economic structures will be presented in Azerbaijan. Mutually beneficial cooperation between Your country and Norway will be equally fruitful for both states in accordance with their interests.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You, I appriciate You. I fully agree with all that You have mentioned. I highly rate Your interest in our country and its history.

It is natural that as a great scientist and a great taveller You first of all study the origins of Your people`s ancestors and these searches have brought You to Azerbaijan. Of course, Your these searches, scientific investigations and archaeological measures should be implemented together with Azerbaijani scientists and the results of scientific surveys should agree with each other.

Historical science, especially of the most ancient period should be never politicized. Unfortunaly, the world today, including our region endures such a period when history is written as certain people want to, according to their opportunistic political purposes. It was the same in the former Soviet Union because under the soviet power, science and especially history was idealized. Now we are free from that. If we take for instance the region of Southern Caucasia, You know that 12 years ago, Armenia started military aggression, laying claim to Azerbaijan`s lands. It grew into the conflict and war that still continue. Due to definite, various reasons, occupation of 20 % of Azerbaijan`s lands by Armenian armed forces became possible until 1994. The reason for this conflict, of course, the war and coflict started by Armenian side is that Nagorno-Karabakh region, situated within the territory of Azerbaijan allegedly "belongs" to Armenia. Some people, falsifying separate periods of history came to this opinion. But if we appreciate history fairly and analyse it correctly, we will find out that it is a lie. Its roots go back to the system and structure of the Soviet Union again, in other words, they are bound with it. Upon the creation of the Soviet Union, its leadership cut out the maps of union republics in Moscow as they wished. I mean those who were strong, drew a map in their favour, bur those who were not, they were deprived of shuch an opportunity. In other words, injustice and lawlessness ruled.

In general, oppression of a weak one by a strong one or his deprivation of many things is not a new case. But now, completing XX century and taking into account all the changes happening in the world, negative events of the past should not be repeated any more. Objectivity should exist in everything. Objectivity means that not a subjective opinion of certain persons, but reality, facts and evidences should be assumed as a basis.

From this point of view, Azerbaijan has experienced a big inequity both upon the formation of the Soviet Union and in the following periods, as well as within last ten years. Certainly, everyone should think over all this. Everyone should know that it is impossible to create history based on personal goals. History should reflect reality. These are my general observations. My words have no relation with Your activity. Historians are sitting here on my left and on my right. Taking an opportunity, I simply shared my thoughts.

Sometimes, owing to a subjective opinion of separate historians, not armed, but verbal war goes on even among them. An end should be put to it.

Such a concept as consensus exists in interstate relations and in politics. However, there should not be any consensus while writing history. It means, it can not be like this: "I will agree with this and you will agree that one, and so we will arrive at consensus of opinion". History is reality, but confrontation should not be allowed there. Consensus and confrontation are contradictions. But in historical science and historical researches it should not be present. In other words, one cannot inflect either to one or to another side. One should say the truth and if it is impossible, it is better not to say anything than to say untruth and create a problem.

Your researches and ideas are truly very important indeed. Only scientists know the ancient history B.C. Others, including politicians do not know it deeply. Your idea that "the people of Scandinavian countries, including Norway lived in antiquity in this land and then migrated there" was not advanced before You by anybody, even by our historians and researchers. I do not know, may be someone did, but it seems to me that no one said it. This is Your discovery.

It is natural that Your scientific hypotheses evoked pride of Azerbaian scientists, as well as of those who heard of it. It is in the sense that we realy have a very ancient history. As early as centuries ago, people who lived in our land migrated to other parts of the world, new nations appeared and they developed. It really evokes pride of every country. I wish that Your investigations in this area would first of all be based on the truth and secondly, open new, undisclosed pages in the history of Your country and people, as well as of Azerbaijan people and our land.

I was told that the archeological excavation in Kish village of Shaki region yielded astonishing results. Our historians told me about that. If You go deeper, You will find even more.

In other words, having received this information and thinking of it, I thought while meeting such a great scientist as You, that even in thousand years, the world will discover more of new and unknown to science data of the past. Therefore, I wish sucsess both to You and Azerbaijan scientists. I think that You can achieve the most correct and exact result under team-work. I once more wish You sucsess.

Extend my best regards, obeisance and respect to His Majesty, the king of Norway. Send my greetings and respect to Prime Minister, Mr. Stoltenberg as well and on the whole - I have many friends in Norway - to all of them.

I have ordered to provide You with all the necessary conditions for activity. If there are any problems, please, I can solve them.

Thor Heyerdahl: Mr. President! Thank You very much. I appreciate You for kind words and kind, friendly attitude to us by Azerbaijan scientists. We have achieved everything we hoped and dreamt of.

I fully agree with You that objectivity and conscience are the most important concepts for history. I would say that in point of fact, it concerns all the spheres of science. I think that cooperation in different spheres of science is required to reveal the truth. Therefore, I attach great importance to the cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of Your country. I will note that geographers, experts, specialists engaged in genetics, as well as linguists and archaeologists participate in this cooperation. Each one makes his own contribution. Thus, when the known results of separate scientific researches are linked up, the thruth is born from cooperation.

Mr. President! I once more appreciate. Thank You very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Do our scientists want to say anything? Do you agree with all the mentioned ?

Voices from places: Yes.

Touor Seerstad: (President of Norwegian humanitarian organization in Azerbaijan): Mr. President! As a representative of Norwegian humanitarian organization, I would like to say a few words. Our organization takes direct part in the establishment of joint activity of Mr. Heyerdahl and Azerbaijan scientists. Feeling particular honour from the meeting with You, I would also say that I feel satisfaction that we contribute to the fruitful activity of Your country in this sphere.

Mr. President! Joining to Your and Mr. Heyerdahl`s words, I want to inform that in fact, there are many similar contacts and links between our countries, as well as closeness in our history. We should study just this history and draw conclusions from it.

As a humanitarian organization of Norway, we have been acting in Azerbaijan since 1994. We accomplish work in Baku, Gandja and Shaki cities and closely cooperate with Your people here. We express our deep appreciation to You for such cooperation and for the conditions provided to us. Thank You.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. I have already said and would like to note again that I am aware of the work carried out by Norway in humanitarian field in Azerbaijan and I appreciate this. I want to express my hope that this aid and relationships will develop and enlarge in future. Thank you.

Mr. Heyerdahl, I would like to present You several books on Azerbaijan`s ancient history. Gobustan was the first to attract Your attention. And today, You have mentioned that exactly after Your visit to Gobustan with my late brother Hassan Aliyev, You became much interested in these issues in Azerbaijan.

You know that recently, we have commemorated the 1300th anniversary of the geatest dastan (legend) in Azerbaijan`s history, the biggest written memorial of Azerbaijan literature "Kitabi-Dede Gorgud". Therefore, I present You all these books about Gobustan, "Kitabi-Dede Gorgud" and a book about Azerbaijan. To tell the truth, most of them are in Azerbaijani, but there are also some in English.

This is a book of Karabakh, wich is under occupation now. This is a book of the people, forcedly banished from Azerbaijan lands occupied by Armenian armed forces. They reflect our today`s reality.

But this book is of the past and present days of Azerbaijan. Another book is of Gobustan. And this is dastan "Kitabi-Dede Gorgud" and Encyclopedia "Kitabi-Dede Gorgud", published by the anniversary of the dastan.

At the same time, I would like to present You, my personal friend, books of myself. And these are the photograph albums about my life. I think they will be interesting for You. Besides, I would like to present You several photos. You probably remember, that this photo was taken in Oslo, in Your museum. And these are photos of our meeting in Oslo.

These books are heavy and I would not like to trouble You. Therefore, I present them to the Norwegian embassy in Azerbaijan. You will certainly travel from here to other places, but I ask Norwegian embassy to send them to You with diplomatic mail to Oslo.

Stein Iversen (deputy Ambassador of Norway in Azerbaijan): We will do this with pleasure.

Heydar Aliyev: You see how I have enriched Your lib. Thank You.

Thor Heyerdahl: Mr. President! Thank You very much. I would also like to present You something equal to Your presents. I want to present You one of the exhibits of my museum, obtained in my travels.

Heydar Aliyev: It is more valuable than mine. Thank You.

"Bakinskiy rabochiy" newspaper, 5 September, 2000

Brief essays


General historical background

Azerbaijani-Norwegian relations

Historical backgrounds

Azerbaijan - Europe