Statement of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the meeting with ambassadors of member countries of the United Nations Security Council - July 28, 1997

Distinguished Chairman!

Esteemed Members of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization!

I cordially greet you and consider the first meeting with the members of the Security Council of the UN to be a great event in my life. This is an important event for me as the President of Azerbaijan.

I have asked to hold this meeting to familiarize you with Azerbaijan, its situation, the complicated problems that we have faced and are still facing. Considering the short time we have, I would like to inform you about the situation in Azerbaijan briefly.

Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan regained its independence, established diplomatic relations with a number of countries, and became a member of the UN. Today, Azerbaijan is an equal member of world community. Establishment of an independent state is a historic event for Azerbaijan. The years after this event have been dedicated to preserving and strengthening Azerbaijani independence. Today I am proud to declare that the preservation of our independence has become our sacred mission. We will continue to exert every effort to solidify Azerbaijan's independence, and ensure more active and independent participation of our country in the international arena.

Azerbaijan is building a law-based and secular state, and we're carrying out the democratic reforms. The democratic principles constitute the basis of the Azerbaijani national statehood, and we are implementing concrete programs in this regard. In November 1995, the citizens at the nationwide referendum voted for the first democratic constitution of the Azerbaijani Republic. At the same time, representatives were elected to the Azerbaijani Parliament on a multiparty basis. The Parliament is currently working to establish the legislative basis for the national state building.

The individual and human rights and political pluralism are guaranteed in Azerbaijan. The political parties, social organizations and movements operate freely in our country. The Azerbaijani citizens have equal rights regardless of their ethnic origin, language, religion and color of their skin. I repeat that Azerbaijan is building a secular state.

Azerbaijan is reconstructing its economy on market principles. With this goal in mind, we implement economic reforms and broad privatization programs. The land reform law is especially critical. According to this law, the land will be privatized. The market economy and market mechanisms are the fundamental and strategic objective of the entire Azerbaijani economy. The Azerbaijani economy is open to the entire world, and we actively encourage foreign investments in our country. I should inform you that the influx of foreign investments into Azerbaijan has begun, and we hope that these investments will rise in the future.

Azerbaijan has created highly favorable conditions for foreign investors. The most important thing is that we have passed necessary laws to this end. The Azerbaijani economy has experienced positive changes as a result of economic reforms, openness of the country to foreign capital, and in particular, the liberalization of foreign trade. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan's economy went through years of recession. However, our economy began growing last year. Inflation was curbed and is almost non-existent. The national currency - Azerbaijani manat - has appreciated against other currencies, especially the U.S. Dollar. The current year's indicators make us believe that our economic reforms will produce more positive results.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan encountered numerous complex problems during its independence. The most significant of these problems is the military aggression launched by Armenia aimed at annexing the Azerbaijani land of Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) since 1988 when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were still republics of the Soviet Union. This aggression led to terrible tragedy and a large-scale war. We suffered huge casualties; many people were killed. Due to certain reasons, the military aggression against our country resulted in the Armenian military occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan's lands including Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). More than one million Azeris were ousted from their homeland in the occupied territories. They have been living in harsh conditions in tents scattered across Azerbaijan. The wealth accumulated by the citizens for centuries in the currently occupied territories has been looted or destroyed. Everything people had built and cherished - houses, industrial enterprises, schools, hospitals, cultural centers, and holy places - was devastated and leveled. The atrocities and barbarity committed on our lands are beyond imagination.

Despite all these facts, we agreed to a cease-fire in 1994. The cease-fire agreement was signed in 1994, and we have maintained quiet on the front since then. At the same time, there is no real peace because 20% of the Azerbaijani lands remain under the Armenian occupation, and more than one million refugees live under severe conditions. During these years, we held negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. As you know, the Minsk Group of OSCE is responsible for this issue. Although this group has done some work in this direction, the problem is still unresolved.

Let me touch on the history of the cease-fire accord. The Security Council did discuss the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan, or what it called the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. The Security Council adopted four resolutions on this matter, and the six or seven statements of the Security Council Chairman were approved. All four resolutions of the Security Council - 822, 853, 874 and finally 884 - were passed concerning the occupation of different regions of Azerbaijan. The first resolution was adopted after Lachyn and Shusha were occupied. Then a large district of Kelbajar followed by Agdam, Fuzuli, Zengilan were seized as well. You passed the resolution instructing the aggressor to stop the aggression. Unfortunately, these resolutions remained on paper without being implemented. The aggressor continued its actions. Note that half a year passed between your first resolution in 1992 and the last one adopted in November 1993. During this period, the Armenian armed groups managed to occupy 6 or 7 districts of Azerbaijan.

As I have already mentioned, the occupation of 20 percent of our territories resulted from these events. The Minsk Group of OSCE is working in the direction of a peaceful settlement. The Budapest Summit of OSCE held in December 1994 adopted a very important decision in this regard - to speed up the talks, and create and use the peacekeeping forces of OSCE in the settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. Finally, in December 1996 the Lisbon Summit of OSCE approved the current OSCE chairman's statement on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. This document is remarkable since it defines three underlying principles for peaceful resolution of the conflict - recognition of the territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani and Armenian Republics, granting a high-degree autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh and, finally, guaranteeing the security of the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Although this document is detrimental to Azerbaijan's sovereignty, and it doesn't satisfy us completely, we still agreed to accept this accord for the sake of a peaceful settlement. However, the Armenian side did not assume a constructive position toward the document. Armenia was the only state out of 54 OSCE member countries represented that voted against the resolution.

After the Lisbon Summit, the Minsk Group of OSCE had new co-chairs. Until then Russia and Finland were the co-chairs of this group. Since January this year, the U.S., Russia and France took over the chair of the group. This change gave rise to great optimism in Azerbaijan. The fact that three permanent members of the UN Security Council, three great powers, took over the responsibility of resolving the conflict peacefully was the cause for both hope and confidence. On June 20th at the meeting of the Great Eight in Denver, the presidents of Russia, U.S. and France, Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac, issued a statement about the need to negotiate the peaceful settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict in a short period of time. This statement is another reason to be optimistic and hopeful.

The Minsk Group has submitted concrete proposals, and we have given them a serious consideration. Obviously, these plans contain sections that do not suit us at all. The package consists of two parts. The first section refers to the exigency of withdrawing the troops from the occupied Azeri lands, from six Azerbaijani administrative districts adjacent to Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh), and returning the Azerbaijani refugees who were expelled from their homes to these lands. The second component of the plan calls for the determination of the status of Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh)within Azerbaijan and liberating the districts of Lachyn and Shusha from the occupying forces.

As you can see, this map very vividly depicts the Azerbaijani territory with the occupied lands. The territory of the dissolved Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) autonomous region is in red; the Azeri lands that were not part of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) but were completely populated by the Azerbaijanis and now militarily occupied by the Armenian armed forces are shown in green. The territory of Lachyn district that lies on the route connecting Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh)with Armenia and the Azerbaijani-populated Shusha district, which has a tremendous historic significance to Azerbaijan, are colored in yellow. Both these districts are currently occupied by the Armenian armed forces. The Minsk Group proposals envisage considering the fate of these districts simultaneously as they determine of the status of Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh).

I repeat that these proposals need further work and clarification. We cannot accept many aspects in them. Nevertheless, we can consider these proposals as a basis for negotiations. I declare before you today that we are ready to conduct talks in this framework to ensure the liberation of these six districts that are in green on the map and safe return of the refugees to their homeland. We are willing to continue the negotiations on the second stage in order to liberate Lachyn and Shusha, then solve the issue of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) status. This stage would require the deployment of the peacekeeping troops of OSCE.

As I mentioned earlier at the Budapest Summit of OSCE in December of 1994, we adopted a resolution on creating peacekeeping forces for the settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. We were roughly at this stage at that time.

Regrettably, the Armenian side insists on and demands the independent status for Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). I should mention here that during the OSCE Lisbon Summit in December of 1996, the Armenian delegation had almost the same position. We have stated before, and today I declare again to you, the members of the Security Council, that to liberate the occupied lands, ensure the return of one million refugees to their homeland, and establish long-lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, we are ready to make compromises. We are open to compromise but cannot allow the creation of a second Armenian state on the Azerbaijani territory. We think a high autonomy can be granted to Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). However, from territorial, state-building and legal standpoints, Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) must remain a part of Azerbaijan.

At the same time according to the plan we suggest, Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) will have broad authority over its foreign economic, cultural, humanitarian relations, and close relations with Armenia. However, we respect the inviolability of state principles. The Armenian side, nevertheless, attempts to achieve the independence of Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). I repeat it is impossible. It is impossible not only because of our stance, but also because it will be the violation of the charters and principles of the United Nations, OSCE, and international laws. I believe that no one including the Security Council, United Nations and OSCE should put up with the violation of the international laws. Otherwise, such an action would cause terrible harm not only to Azerbaijan, but also to a great number of other countries.

This problem is the main obstacle to our comprehensive effort to implement economic and nation-building reforms.

I want to accentuate that we are in normal and beneficial relations with our neighbors. We maintain friendly relations with Georgia and Russia. Our relations with Iran are normal, while Azerbaijan's relations with Turkey can be characterized as very friendly. Azerbaijan is protecting its sovereignty and independence in a very serious manner. Unlike our neighbors, especially Armenia, we have no foreign troops on our soil. Azerbaijan's own border troops guard the state borders of Azerbaijan. As is known, Armenia has a large number of Russian armed forces and Russian military bases. The Russian troops are also present in Georgia, and they are planning to set up a Russian military base in that country. We have none of this and we believe there is no need for foreign military presence.

What worries us most is that, during three years of cease-fire, the officials from the Russian Defense Ministry (as it has become public recently) have illegally been supplying large quantities of heavy weaponry and military equipment to Armenia. The figures are known, and we have the complete list of arms that have been transferred to Armenia. The weaponry transferred was in the amount of $1 billion and included long-range missiles, modern tanks, GRAD rockets, and other heavy military equipment and supplies. I would like to reiterate that we have the full list of items that Armenia received from Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry made this list public, and the Russian Prosecutor's Office has begun the investigation into the illegal operation.

This terrible act creates new obstacles. At the time when we hope that Russia, as a co-chair of the Minsk Group, is helping to settle the conflict peacefully, we uncover the covert arms transfer from Russia to Armenia. Back in March, I sent a special letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. When I was on an official visit to Russia recently, I discussed this issue with him again. He informed me that the Prosecutor General had begun an investigation, and the culprits would be punished. We not only need the punishment of the criminals, but we also need the weaponry to be found and returned to Russia. The presence of large quantities of illegal arms in Armenia threatens not only Azerbaijan, but also all neighboring countries.

These are the most important issues I wanted to touch on. I could speak of many others, but we do not have much time. I would like to leave some time for your questions as well. Thank you for your attention.

Then the ambassadors of the member countries of Security Council made statements. Alexander Gorelik, the first deputy Russia's representative, took the floor first.

Alexander Gorelik: Esteemed Heydar Aliyev, we are glad to welcome you, the president of the friendly Azerbaijani Republic at the United Nations. I am very happy you are with us today. We wish you a successful visit.

I think I do not need to stress our concern about the situation in Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) and surrounding areas. However, we have reasons to hope there will be progress in this direction. For example, we commend the cease-fire that has been maintained by the warring parties for over three years now. The cease-fire sets the stage for further efforts aimed at the peaceful settlement of the conflict in the region.

As is known, the Russian Federation along with the United States and France, other two co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the OSCE, work to intensify the talks on comprehensive peace plan for the region. With this purpose, the co-chairs submitted new proposals to the parties. The proposals that you alluded to today do take the legitimate interests and concerns of the sides into consideration. We are confident that these proposals will serve as a good common ground for both sides to reach an agreement.

Mr. President, the international community is critical. I would suggest that negotiating parties take the major responsibility for the success of the talks. It will depend on the flexibility and realistic approach of the sides whether the latest proposals of the Minsk Group will be accepted. They will create productive basis for further negotiations. On our part, we would like to hope for such a development.

As you know, according to the decision of the Security Council, the co-chairs of the Minsk Group plan to submit a report to the Security Council on their activities regarding the settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. Today's meeting is quite timely, beneficial and relevant in this regard. We believe the members of the Security Council will obtain valuable information from this meeting, and this information will assist us in our future work in this area.

Lastly, President Aliyev, you touched on the Russian arms transfers to Armenia. You correctly noted that the office of the prosecutor general of Russia had launched a serious investigation into the matter. During your recent visit to Moscow, three countries decided to set up a tripartite (Russia-Armenia-Azerbaijan) commission at the deputy foreign minister level. Its mission is to investigate the arms transfers. The Commission will investigate the sources of the Russian arms supply to either Armenia or Azerbaijan in a very detailed manner. Thank you very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you for your speech. We lay great hopes on Russia as a co-chair of the Minsk Group and will continue cooperating with Russia.

As far as your last remark is concerned, it is true that during my last visit, we did decide to establish an Russian-Azerbaijani-Armenian commission to investigate the matter. The purpose of this commission is to find out two things. First, it is to determine how the Russian military could deliver such a massive quantity of weaponry to Armenia illegally. The second task is to ascertain the quantities of the arms left in Armenia and Azerbaijan after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

I would like to clarify the issue. The point is that during January and February, the officials of the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ministry for the CIS affairs raised the question of illegal arms transfers from Russia to Armenia. Initially everyone denied the report. However, the facts surfaced and were published in the media. During my meeting with President Boris Yeltsin and other Russian leaders in Moscow last July, it was brought to my attention that after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., Azerbaijan inherited more arms than Armenia. I, naturally, said that the facts should be checked. Secondly, I stressed that this fact had no pertinence to the illegal shipments of weaponry from Russia to Armenia in the period of 1994 to 1997. These transfers could not mean the compensation of Armenia for the higher number of weaponry in Azerbaijan. Despite that, we should still verify the real state of affairs. I, for instance, declare here that those facts do not correspond to the truth. However, since such an aspect was raised, we agreed to the inspection. I have to say that, on my part, I did submit the list of the members of the Azerbaijani delegation including the deputy foreign minister to be a part of the commission. I expect tangible results from the commission's work.

Chairman: Permanent Representative of France Alan De Jeanme now has the floor.

De Jeanme: Three countries made an extraordinary effort on a highest level to speed up the settlement of the conflict. Thus, during the Summit of the Eight meeting in Denver, the presidents of these countries, Yeltsin, Clinton and Chirak, issued a joint statement regarding the peaceful solution of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. You are also aware that the co-chairs of the Minsk Group are intensifying their efforts. They have recently traveled to the region. On July 18-20, they met with President Aliyev for the third time within a few months. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group sought to find a plan that would be acceptable to both sides. They have given their recommendations. They now expect the parties to demonstrate political will and necessary compromise in order to ensure a breakthrough in negotiations.

As to the co-chairs, they will not spare their efforts to assist the resolution of the conflict. I am certain that the co-chairs will express their opinions in this regard.

I mentioned in the beginning of my speech that the Security Council is closely and attentively following the situation. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group regularly report to President Aliyev and the Security Council on the state of the negotiations. The Security Council always supports the Minsk Group after their report, and urges it to continue their work according to the guidelines set by the Security Council and OSCE. The Minsk Group should become the main forum for settling this conflict. With the backing of the Security Council, this group has done a tremendous work. I think these efforts should continue in order to solve the problem permanently.

I would like to thank you again for the information you provided. I suppose we can confidently state that the Minsk Group co-chairs are fully dedicated to the resolution of this issue peacefully and resolutely. Thank you.

Chairman: I thank Ambassador De Jeanme. It is the turn of Mr. Bill Wood, from the United States.

Bill Wood: Mr. Chairman, thank you. I would like to welcome President Aliyev to New York on behalf of Ambassador Richardson, and thank Mr. Aliyev for meeting with us at this unofficial briefing. We can say that the Security Council follows the conflict in Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) with much attention. Undoubtedly, complex and serious problems in the region have tremendous political and human consequences. Thousands of refugees are still homeless, and the stability in the region is under threat.

In its resolutions, the Security Council has agreed that OSCE should play a leading role in a search for a peaceful settlement in the region. The conflict causes great concern to the co-chairs of the Minsk Group - the United States, Russia and France. Like other leaders, Presidents Chirak, Clinton and Yeltsin gave prevalent attention to the issue. Their joint statement in Denver attests to this fact. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group have recently submitted new proposals, and we have great hopes for these plans. However, in order to put an end to the conflict, the leadership of both sides needs to make concessions and display wisdom and political courage.

As noted in the resolutions of the Security Council, we call on Azerbaijan to continue its intensive cooperation with the Minsk Group aimed at the comprehensive settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. Mr. President, I welcome you to New York again.

Chairman: I thank you. Next, Ambassador Park Su Chil of South Korea.

Park Su Chil: Mr. Coordinator, thank you. My delegation highly values the chance to listen to His Excellency President Heydar Aliyev's thoughts on the peace negotiations on the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict, the process of democratization and economic reforms in Azerbaijan.

We welcome the good news, and we are glad that, finally, there is some progress in the diplomatic front. We are also glad to see that the cease-fire is maintained. However, as it was appropriately pointed out in the statements of the Minsk Group and the joint statement of the presidents of three countries in Denver that it is not sufficient to just keep the cease-fire. We need to establish stable and long-lasting peace in the region. That's why we completely support the persistent diplomatic efforts of the Minsk Group of the OSCE directed at a comprehensive peace settlement in the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. The political will of the parties is critical to the rapid resolution of the issue, and we welcome the promise made by President Aliyev to search for a political solution to the conflict. He emphasized this here again.

Korea gives great significance to the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The peace in the geostrategically crucial region that links all of Eurasia is critical to the stability in the region. Peace and stability are key ingredients for the reliable exports of energy reserves, and I hope that all citizens of Azerbaijan regardless of their ethnic background will benefit from the peace and wealth that will flow from the country's energy resources. We hope that the Minsk Group efforts will be successful in future.

Chairman: Thank you. Permanent Representative of China Tsin Hua Sun.

Tsin Hua Sun: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Chinese delegation would like to welcome President Heydar Aliyev on his arrival in New York and the United Nations. We are grateful to you for the information about Azerbaijan and theGarabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. This information will help us better understand the latest developments in the region and the Azerbaijani position on the settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict.

I would like to accentuate one point. Like other members of the Security Council, China as a permanent member of the Security Council is quite concerned about the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Security Council adopted four resolutions on the conflict. We consider all them a sound basis for the political resolution of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict.

All these resolutions have one common aspect, which is the need to recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Azerbaijani Republic. The issue of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) should be solved within this framework. President Aliyev has just stated that he is ready to make a compromise in order to reach a solution. We believe that if both sides could demonstrate the ability to compromise and show resilience, then we can facilitate the settlement of the conflict. Finally, I would like to thank President Heydar Aliyev for his valuable gifts.

Chairman: I thank His Excellency Ambassador Tsin. Next is John Weston, the permanent representative of Great Britain.

John Weston: I would like to echo the statements of other representatives and welcome President Aliyev. I am pleased with the great bilateral relations between his country and my home country, the joint work of the British companies in the production of the Azerbaijani and Caspian energy resources.

I have nothing left to add to the issue of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh). I share the words of my colleagues to a great degree. Since I have received literature and several maps on the Caspian Sea, I would like to ask the president, "What do you think about the recent developments in the Caspian Sea issues?" As you know, the United Kingdom's clear position is that the issue of the Caspian Sea must be handled by the Caspian states. No matter what agreement can be reached, the current contracts must be maintained. The involvement of the Iranian companies in the Lenkoran Consortium may lead to the replacement of the legal positions of some countries by what we term as "commercial realism." That's why I would be grateful to the president if he could comment on the issue concerning Turkmenistan. Have you made any progress in the issue of the Turkmen claims to some Azeri oil fields? The last one was made to 'Kepez' field.

Chairman: I thank Ambassador Weston. Next, Peter Oswald, the permanent representative of Sweden.

Peter Oswald: Mr. President, as you know, Sweden has striven to make its contribution to the settlement of the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict. We strongly back the process undertaken by the Minsk Group and the three countries. We hope that, in order to solve the issue, the parties will display political will and cooperate with three countries.

Maintaining the cease-fire regime is an important factor in the peace process. Themission of the UN and Security Council is to assist the efforts to settle the conflict.

Finally I would like to note that the humanitarian situation causes a great concern as before. The continuous close cooperation between Azerbaijani government and the UN High Commission on Refugees is key to alleviating the suffering of about one million refugees in Azerbaijan. I thank you.

Chairman: I thank you, Ambassador Oswald. Does anyone else want to speak? Your Excellency, President Aliyev, could you answer the questions directed to you?

Heydar Aliyev: Actually, there was just one question from the Ambassador of Great Britain. First, I would like to express my satisfaction with this meeting. I thank you for gathering here and listening to me. I consider this attention to be the active involvement of the Security Council in the Azerbaijani problems, especially in the Armenian-Azeri, Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) conflict.

As I gather, the members of the Security Council who spoke at this meeting expressed their solidarity with the work carried by the OSCE, the Minsk Group and us. We are firm in our stance that the conflict can be resolved peacefully provided that the occupied Azeri lands are liberated, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is restored, and the Garabagh (Nagorno Garabagh) region is granted a broad autonomy within Azerbaijan. We will further cooperate with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, all OSCE members and the UN Security Council in these matters.

I hope that the ambassadors of the Security Council member countries will also continue supporting and assisting us in these efforts. I thank you for all for this assistance.

In response to the question of the British Ambassador, I would like to say that we are operating oil and gas production on the basis of the sectoral division in the Caspian Sea that was established in the 1970s.

At that time, the Soviet Union almost completely dominated the Caspian Sea. During the Soviet era, Azerbaijan was responsible for all oil and gas exploration projects in the Caspian Sea. As a part of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan could carry out these operations. But the scope of the work by the Azeri oil experts was increasing and began encompassing larger areas of the Sea. Such a situation affected the interests of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. In 1970, the Soviet government made a decision on a sectoral division of the Caspian Sea. We are operating within this sectoral division framework. I would like to inform you that we deem such a status of the Caspian Sea, that is the sectoral division, an acceptable basis for offshore natural resource exploration and production.

However, some countries do not agree with such a division and, instead, propose the condominium principle. This principle calls for the national sea borders up to 45 nautical miles from the coast, and the rest of the water body should belong to all the bordering states. The Caspian states have divergent views on this issue. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have one opinion, while Russia, Iran and, to a certain degree, Turkmenistan have a different position. But I think we will continue talks and come to a common ground. Until then, we will operate according to the existing pattern.

As far as the newly surfaced claims of Turkmenistan, I would like to remind you again that we have been working in the Caspian Sea for more than 50 years. The original oil contract signed in September of 1994 included the oil fields of "Azeri" and "Chirag". Some American firms, British Petroleum, Statoil, the Turkish oil company and others were signatories to that treaty. Now all of a sudden Turkmenistan claims that these oil fields belong to them. This is, undoubtedly, incorrect. According to the sectoral division that has been in effect in the Caspian Sea since 1970, these deposits are located in the Azeri sector of the Sea. Despite that, if they raised such a question, we can discuss it and determine who is a real owner of these deposits.

Regarding the "Kepez" oil field, it is situated right on the border between the Azeri and Turkmen sectors. We have not signed any contracts on this oil field. During my visit to Moscow, we signed an intent to cooperate on the production of this field with the Russian firms Lukoil and Rosneft. During that meeting, we did take into consideration the fact that the field was divided by the border and was located in both Azeri and Turkmen sectors. That's why during the existence of the U.S.S.R., it was named "Promezhutochni" in Russian to indicate the precarious location of the field. The Russian representative present here today can testify to that. Later Azerbaijan named the oil field "Kepez," and Turkmenistan called it "Serdar." The original name of the field is "Promezhutochni", which means "one located on the border". We are ready to cooperate with both Russian firms and Turkmenistan in developing this field.

This is the situation. By the way, Turkmenistan, in general, makes contradictory statements. Turkmenistan refuses to accept the sectoral division of the sea. Instead, they prefer the condominium principle. On the other hand, now Turkmenistan puts forward claims to 'Kepez' and other deposits, thus accepting the sectoral division de facto. If Turkmenistan truly backs the idea of the sectoral division, then it should clearly state its position, which is identical with ours. Then we can determine in whose sector the fields are precisely located. Without recognizing the sectoral division of the sea, Turkmenistan's claims that certain oil fields are not located in the Azeri sector, but the Turkmen sector are simply illogical. This is the crux of the issue.

I would like to thank you for listening to me, for personally meeting with you. I repeat that I am visiting the UN Security Council for the first time, and this is a great event for me. You were given the books that I brought. Please, try to take advantage of them.

Nabil El-Arabi, the Egyptian Ambassador (who chaired the meeting): I thank His Excellency, the Azerbaijani President, for his very interesting speech and detailed information he provided. I would like to accentuate the special character of the Azeri-Egyptian relationship. As you know we, the Egyptians and Azeris have the same roots. I thank you again on behalf of the Egyptian delegation.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. 

The document was taken from the edition of  "Together Towards The New Century"