Statement of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the press conference in Beijing during his official visit to China – March 8, 1994

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is our second day in Beijing. I am on an official visit at the initiative of the chairman of the People`s Republic of China. I am accompanied by a large Azerbaijani delegation here. We had very useful meetings with the Chinese authorities.
Yesterday the official welcoming ceremony was held, then I had negotiations with Chairman Jiang Zemin. The talks ended with the signature of a number of documents. I had a comprehensive exchange of views on bilateral relations with the chairman of the People`s Republic of China.

We came to a unanimous conclusion that the relations between China and Azerbaijan should be developed more comprehensively and successfully. Development of trade, economy, science, culture and tourism is reflected in the documents we signed as a result of the agreement. We exchanged views on topical issues of international situation. The position of China in international politics, in particular, in relation with the newly independent states is of great importance for us.

We found out that our positions in respect to the territorial integrity, inviolability of borders, sovereignty, independence completely coincide. I informed the Chinese leader about the current situation in Azerbaijan, as well as of the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani war, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, our attempts to cease hostilities, to stop the war, to reach peace through negotiations.
Today I met Premier Li Peng. We discussed similar issues in our meeting. We strengthened our confidence that the position of the Chinese authorities regarding the international and domestic politics is unanimous and stable. We are very interested in the economic reforms carried out for many years in the People's Republic of China. We touched upon these issues in our meetings with the leader and Premier of China. Today we met the minister for reforms.
We exchanged views on economic reforms. Our visit is still underway. Tomorrow we shall have meetings in Beijing, then depart for Shanghai. By the way, visiting Shanghai was suggested by the Chinese leader.
We are satisfied with the initial results of our visit. As I mentioned, we had very useful, interesting talks and negotiations. The Chairman of the People`s Republic of China and I signed a declaration on the principles of cooperation between our countries. Seven other inter-state documents were signed. These documents determine the future development of relations between Azerbaijan and China. It is also important that we could inform the Chinese authorities about the situation in our country and in our region, the ongoing war that broke out as a result of aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and many other issues.
Shortly, the first visit of the Azerbaijani president to China has been successful, cordial relations between the authorities of the two countries have been established, the Chinese government was informed on the regional situation. It should be noted that the distance between our countries requires detailed and comprehensive information about our region.
Azerbaijan is a newly independent state, which is going through a difficult phase of its history. Therefore, it is very important to establish high-level relations between Azerbaijan and China, to other prospects of their further development. We attach great importance to it as China occupies an important position in global economic system, enjoys high reputation in international arena, is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

I would like to briefly inform you about the situation in Azerbaijan, the conducted measures, the solution of our problems, as well as the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh problem.

Azerbaijan gained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Azerbaijani people lived under the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for 200 years but they have always strived for independence. Like other peoples, the Azerbaijanis have always aspired for freedom. Therefore, achievement of independence became a historical event. However, the independent Azerbaijan faced challenges, such as socio-economic development, full sovereignty, independence, statehood, integration with international community. All these issues have been solved over the past two years in complicated circumstances also generated by the military aggression of Armenia.

The economy of Azerbaijan is in deep crisis, which adversely affects the welfare of population. There is a crisis in the republics of the former Soviet Union in recent years as a result of disintegration it has covered all the newly independent states, including Azerbaijan. The crisis is deepening in Azerbaijan because of the said aggression. The military conflict, which broke out because of the claims of Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, has escalated and led to the occupation of almost 20% of the Azerbaijani territories by the Armenian armed forces. Over one million people from the occupied territories have lost their homes, become refugees and settled in other regions of Azerbaijan. They are now living in hard conditions.

Unfortunately, the political situation in Azerbaijan was not stable in the recent years. The war with Armenia and the struggle between various political groups for power led to the change of the government in the country. Such a difficult situation arose last summer, n Azerbaijan was on the verge of the civil war. But, in my opinion, it is possible to overcome these processes. At present, the internal socio-political situation in Azerbaijan is quite stable. Yet, all those factors had a negative impact on the socio-economic situation and caused additional difficulties. The domestic policy is now experiencing the process of building a democratic legal state. There are favorable conditions in Azerbaijan for developing democracy, political pluralism, multi-party system, protection of human rights, protection of individual freedoms, freedom of conscience, religion and entrepreneurship. The independent Azerbaijan is now building a democratic society based on the principles of freedom and democracy.

Currently, about 40 political parties and over 600 newspapers are registered and freely function in Azerbaijan. This is a big number for a small country with a population of seven million. Certainly, the parties and press have the right to express their views. Some of them are in opposition. All these factors demonstrate the complete independence and freedom for democratic development in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a multinational state. All the Azerbaijani citizens, regardless of ethnicity, religion, political views, enjoy equal rights. Favorable conditions are being set to let every Azerbaijani citizen feel free and equal.

Azerbaijan`s foreign policy is based on principles of development of equal relations with all countries of the world. We already have diplomatic relations with a number of countries. Azerbaijan is a member of the United Nations and other international organizations, intends to take an active part in the international community. Our visit to China, the documents signed between our countries prove that Azerbaijan tries to build friendly relations with other countries; this principle is the basis for the future development of the Chinese-Azerbaijani relations.

The aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan is a hard problem for us. Armenia launched the conflict in order to annex Nagorno-Karabakh, which is a part of Azerbaijan. The war complicated the situation in our region, inflicted losses on the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples. Unfortunately, the war still continues, people are being killed, blood is being shed. I repeat that this is the most difficult problem for Azerbaijan. Our country tries to stop the war, solve the problem only peacefully. However, unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied territories, restoration of the territorial integrity and inviolability of borders are rather inevitable conditions.

Unfortunately, some circles and countries refer to this conflict as an attempt for autonomy for the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is not true. Such opinion may be the result of the false information provided by the active Armenian propaganda. The Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh had an autonomy within Azerbaijan for almost 70 years. Nagorno-Karabakh was granted self-governance because 70% of the population was the Armenians, 30% - the Azerbaijanis. The conflict broke out because of the attempts of Armenian to annex Nagorno-Karabakh. Naturally, Azerbaijan could not accept this annexation, which resulted in the outbreak of the conflict.

Our principle is to ensure the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We do not claim to the territory of any nation, even though there is historical basis for it. And we shall not give up our own lands. We try to cease the hostilities and peacefully regulate the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations; of course, our state guarantees the security and rights of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. If the proposal on unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied territories is accepted, the Azerbaijani side can consider the status of autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh.

We are eager to solve all the problems through international organizations, the United Nations, the UN Security Council, the CSCE, and the Minsk Group created for solution of the problem within the frames of the CSCE. The UN Security Council considered this issue several times and adopted four resolutions on the unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied districts of Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, the Armenian side fully ignores the resolutions. The activities of CSCE and the Minsk Group in this connection have not yielded any results so far. However, CSCE and the Minsk Group have adopted a number of decisions and even set up special schedules on the withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied regions of Azerbaijan. However, they were unsuccessful. Armenia`s aggressive actions against Azerbaijan and ignoring the decisions of international organizations clearly prove the Armenian attempts to violate our territorial integrity and to alter our borders. We can never accept such claims though. Backed by some foreign circles and countries, Armenia ignores the decisions of the UN Security Council, CSCE and other international organizations.

This map clearly shows the extent of the Armenian aggression. Here you can see Azerbaijan, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which is a part of Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The area marked in red is the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Province. It is completely under the control of the Armenian armed forces. As I said, 30 percent of the population was the Azerbaijanis, expelled from there long ago. They are 50,000 people. At present, there is no person of the Azerbaijani origin in Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Armenian population still remains there.

Having expanded the scope of aggression, the Armenian armed forces occupied Lachin, Kalbajar, Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Zangilan and Gubadly of Azerbaijan. The occupied territory covers 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan. One million people from the occupied region have turned into refugees. Most of them have settled in Baku, the rest in other regions of Azerbaijan. The above-mentioned resolutions of the Security Council are related to Kalbajar, Agdam, Fizuli, Zangilan.

By occupying those districts, the Armenian armed forces have ensured a direct communication with Armenia and taken control over s 140 kilometers long border of Azerbaijan with Iran. This is Iran on the map. I think that there is no need to prove that it is a military aggression and occupation. There is no need to prove the world community that it is necessary to put an end to the aggression.

I repeat that we are trying to solve this problem peacefully. We shall continue our peace initiatives and measures. We cannot accept the current situation. If the peace efforts do not produce any results, the Azerbaijani army will conduct successful operations in order to liberate our lands by force. Recently, an agreement on ceasefire and on peace negotiations regarding the withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied territories since March 1 was reached through the mediation of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. We strictly observe the principles of the agreement. However, the Armenian armed forces attacked the positions of the Azerbaijani military units on March 3 and March 5. Our troops have beaten them off properly. Those attacks led to new casualties and bloodshed on the either sides.

The territorial integrity and inviolability of borders are important principles of international law enshrined in UN documents. The Chinese officials reconfirmed their position that change of borders and aggression against the territorial integrity of any country must not be allowed. Based on these principles enshrined in UN documents and in international law and approved by all the countries, we shall be able to achieve the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Azerbaijan. Of course, we shall need the support of the world community, international organizations and countries, including the People`s Republic of China. I must note that the Chinese delegation to the UN, especially to the Security Council always holds fair position when considering the issues related to aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

Therefore, I expressed my gratitude to the Chinese authorities for their fair position. I have informed the reporters here about the domestic situation, challenges and foreign policy of Azerbaijan, as well as about the results of our meetings in Beijing. Therefore, I will not take your time any more. I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.

Question: What is Russia`s role in the settlement of the conflict? What are the prospects for the development of the Russian-Azerbaijani relations?

Answer: I`ll start from the second part of your question. At the moment, the Azerbaijani-Russian relations are normal although there were difficulties because of the position of the former authorities of Azerbaijan. These relations have been regulated since the second half of last year. I visited Russia, met President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. We agreed upon eliminating the barriers in the Azerbaijani-Russian relations. These relations are quite friendly at present.

As for Russia`s role in settlement of the conflict, Russia always takes part in the process. As you know, this conflict broke out in the early 1988, and the efforts to solve it were made within the Soviet Union. The efforts failed though. Actually it seems to me that they didn’t want to settle the conflict although it was possible. In other words, given that Russia is the legal successor of the former Soviet Union, Russia has since joined this process.

Russia is a member both of CSCE and the Minsk Group. As I noted, the Minsk Group specially deals with this problem. In addition, Russia puts forward its own initiatives as well. For example, Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian defense ministers signed a protocol in Moscow on February 18. The protocol intends the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. An agreement on ceasefire on March 1 was reached; the withdrawal of the troops was to begin three days later. However, it never happened. What can I say? Russia takes part in this process, but there is no result yet.

Question: Mr. President, I have two questions. Recently, China has repeatedly stated its readiness to take an active part in solution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. You probably negotiated on this matter. I would like to ask whether this readiness means not only an active position in the Security Council and other organizations, but also peacebuilding in conflict zone, mediation? This is my first question.

The second question: did you discuss China`s economic assistance, particularly loans to Azerbaijan in your talks? Thank you.

Answer: Referring to your first question, I noted earlier that China holds a principled and fair position within the framework of the UN Security Council. Special processes for regulating this conflict is carried out in the framework of the CSCE. China does not belong to the European Union. No issue on mediation was raised here. As for China`s assistance to Azerbaijan, our cooperation will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial. At the same time, China may provide loans to Azerbaijan.

Question: Did you discuss the delivery of arms and military assistance from China?

Second question: We were justed handed in a book titled “The Armenian Nasizm”. You just said that it would be better to provide the world community detailed and comprehensive information on the events in your region. Do you consider such publications as information or propoganda?

Answer: Regarding your first question, I can say that we did not talk about China`s military assistance. There is no need for it. No matter how difficult it is, Azerbaijan does and will overcome this issue.

As for the booklet you mentioned, if you were more familiar with the Armenian agitation in other countries and international organization, you would have not spoken about this booklet so. The Armenian side spread more booklets and materials worldwide. The inequitable situation in the current conflict stems from the fact that the Armenian side enjoys more instruments to influence public opinion in other countries, while Azerbaijan does not possess them at all.

You know how strong the Armenian diaspora in Europe, the USA, Russia is. You are also informed about the efforts of the Armenian diaspora to confuse the public opinion through the Russian mass media. Thus, I don`t want you to be confused by this booklet. Objectively written, this booklet aims at providing information, not agitation.

Thank you for your attention.