From the meeting of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev with the Minsk Group co-chairs of OSCE - November 4, 2001

Distinguished visitors!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I am very glad that you again have come to Azerbaijan and for our meeting today. I want to hope that after a long break we meet again, we can move forward in the solution of the conflict.

All of us have only one purpose: to settle peacefully the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Yesterday, I was thinking that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, over Nagorno-Karabakh is 13 years old. The Minsk Group of OSCE is 9 years old. And you see, many years have passed, and the problem has not been solved yet. If we delay this question, the Minsk Group of OSCE will become an adult boy, it will be necessary to marry him. And may also be an adult girl then we must marry her to someone. Therefore, we must think of the years necessary for the solution of the conflict.

We wait much from you. I think that you wait something from us as well. I think - both you and we have repeatedly spoken about it, we must mobilize all our forces, efforts and finally solve this question. Recently, in particular, after the terror acts in September 11 in the United States of America, big changes are taking place all over the world. As a whole, in the recent years, terrorism has changed the climate of the world. And the international terrorism is very closely connected with the aggressive separatism. The world should get rid off this monstrous phenomenon. Otherwise, our future will meet greater difficulties. In this sense our region i.e. the Southern Caucasus, the condition is really very critical. There is a conflict for 13 years between two states of the Southern Caucasus, and such a highly authoritative international organization as OSCE has created the Minsk Group, and it has achieved nothing within 9 years, and if we, that is, the parties of the conflict, cannot come to any arrangement, naturally, it should cause concern. Because of this we are waiting impatiently and hopefully to meet the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group, that is, the representatives of Russia, the United States of America and France. It would be desirable if during your current visit we could get at least little advance in this question. I thank you for your arrival in Azerbaijan together, and I am ready to listen to you.

Phillip de Surmen: Mr. President, it is a great honor for us to be received by you. In particular, thank you that you received us on Sunday.

Heydar Aliyev: We do not have a Sunday. People, nation, living in critical conditions because of a such conflict, cannot have Sundays.

Phillip de Surmen: I know that today is not Sunday for you. But it is for your employees and journalists. Today we have mobilized them as well.

As the representatives of mass media here and I want to repeat that it is a great honor for being received. You noted that the Minsk Group has already been functioning for 9 years. We know how the public opinion, people, particularly the refugees suffer from this conflict. I want to note that we are fully of determined in this issue. After the meetings in Paris, Key-West both of the parties peace talks were ceased for some time. Those meetings gave an opportunity to make an advance in this question. Now we continue the work on this base. But the interval does not mean that the Minsk Group will not act at all.

We held a very useful meeting with you in the July of this year. After this meeting we gathered again in Lisbon for the development of certain proposals. We are supported in this issue by the heads of our states as well. We feel the support of all countries - the members of the OSCE. I should note the support of the European Union. I hope that we shall not disappoint you. At the same time it is necessary to know that we make all efforts for the rapprochement of the positions of the both parties. Our purpose is to give an opportunity to the two heads of the states to take a decision in this uneasy issue.

Mr. President, as you noted, time flies and the solution to be found by negotiations gradually turns to a more important and urgent question. If we postpone this issue, it will not make easy its solution.

As you noted, the terror acts in September 11 have changed many things all over the world. We absolutely agree that the international atmosphere is not as it was before. It is possible even to tell that it is not the same at all. Now a new context has already arisen.

I wish these monstrous acts, which we call terrorism, allowed us to strengthen our cooperation and solidarity even more, to combat against this misfortune together at the same time to settle the conflict more quickly. In fact, it is greatly optimistic. But it seems to me that we have many reasons to gain your confidence.

As you noted, it is necessary to look into future. We have arrived here with the intention to meet you again. To my mind, after a while we shall have an opportunity to give a further development to these ideas. And today the main task is to create a peaceful atmosphere. In this sense our meeting today with representatives of three religious communities of Azerbaijan gives great hopes to us. We, undoubtedly, support all the ideas stated by them.

Here, I shall not speak alone. I want to ask to my colleagues to disclose their views, too. We work with them in close cooperation. And our purpose is to fulfill the instructions were given to us by the heads of our states. These instructions urge us to work efficiently. We hope that this region will turn to a region of peace and contribute to stability all over the world.

Mr. President, thank you very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Rudolf Perina (the co-chairman from the USA in the Minsk Group of OSCE): Mr. President, let me thank you once again for the opportunity given to meet you today. It seems to me only a week has passed since our meeting, we met for the first time, and had a very useful conversation on this conflict.

Heydar Aliyev: And it was a long conversation.

Rudolf Perina: Meanwhile, we held consultations within the frames of the Minsk Group in Lisbon. I was also in Washington, held discussions there and informed about their results and content. Today we have come with a number of ideas, after their wide discussion we shall discuss them with you, too. These ideas, I think, will give an incentive success of settlement to the solution of the conflict.

I Mr. President, agree with the opinion expressed by you that this conflict has prolonged too much, and it is high time to solve it.

Thus, there is a precise imagination about the inevitability of the rapid solution about this conflict in our capital - Washington, and in all the capitals of the co-chairs. We believe that if we leave the settlement of the conflict for the future it will be more complicated and difficult. We also think that this conflict has no military settlement. In the case of a military settlement the people, who have already suffered very seriously and greatly, will expose them to even much greater and much longer sufferings.

Tragical events in September 11 have created a new context and at the same time new opportunities for the settlement of the conflict.

Thus, Mr. President, today we have arrived here to work with you resolutely, with determination, as well as with all other parties involved in the conflict, for the sake of a fair settlement of the conflict.

Once more I express my gratitude for the opportunity given to us for meeting you.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov (First Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia): Distinguished Heydar Aliyev, I share the words of gratitude, of my colleagues, for the opportunity to meet you.

We are in this region already the third time in the current year. On one hand it shows that we feel the growing responsibility for the issue entrusted on us, and on the other hand, we feel that time flies, and, probably, there comes the critical moment necessary to solve the problem. And the most important is to put an end to the situation of "neither war, nor peace". I absolutely share the words of my American colleague that this problem can not be solved by using force.

A new situation has emerged in the world, we have new feelings of responsibility, new feelings of interaction arisen in connection with the joint participation in antiterror struggle. These feelings also create new opportunities, and I would like our arrival and meeting You become a very serious step forward.

You are right in speaking about the age of the Minsk Group; I do not want to call not an old age, but the age maturity.

Heydar Aliyev: Soon it will become mature.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov: Therefore, we would to meet this age of maturity with such a feeling that we have really become mature to make responsible, serious and, most important, good decision favorable for all who today suffer from the consequences of this conflict. I would like to say that today in the morning we met the heads of three main religions. And you know, I thanked them and said that the politicians may learn something from them, find a common language for understanding each other. And it can be envied only. It is a very good example for us, and I think that it is a very good example for the presidents of the two countries, too.

Therefore, let`s look at those people who every day communicate with ordinary people, with the population of the country, with those deprived of their homes and become refugees. And today the rabbi was right when he said that it was necessary to take validol in order to look at the state of refugees, it is true.

I am proud that today about 2 million Azerbaijanis live in the territory of Russia. And it evokes the feelings of honor and pride in me that our people accept them openheartedly. But we would like that alongside material support, which these people render to Azerbaijan, to their relatives, they had an opportunity to return here where they were born, where they lived. And today we see our primary goal in it. And I think that our meeting will allow to take an important step forward. Thank you very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you, Vyacheslav Ivanovich. I understood very well that the Minsk Group has become mature. We have matured long ago. Now are growing mature. And if in the age of maturity you do nothing, certainly, there is no basis for optimism.

I thank all of you, our dear friends. I agree with all you have said. The main thing is to settle of the conflict peacefully. I, as President of Azerbaijan, firmly stood and I stand in this position. Here, naturally, it is necessary to find such a solution acceptable for both parties, as you always say. I agree with you. But the matter is that the interests of the parties in this issue are not identical. Because Armenia has occupied the territory of Azerbaijan, one million refugees live in critical conditions, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has been violated. Armenia wants to annex a part of the territory of Azerbaijan or to grant Nagorno-Karabakh the status of an independent state.

And what do we demand? We have occupied nothing in Armenia; naturally, there are no refugees from the occupied territories. Therefore, we think that we are not guilty in this conflict, because we lived together peacefully. I, for example, as an old inhabitant of Azerbaijan and as a person who does lived for many years in Azerbaijan, who headed Azerbaijan, know well how friendly we lived - Azerbaijan with Armenia, and there were no problems in Nagorno-Karabakh. It was a part of Azerbaijan, where the Azerbaijanis and Armenians lived friendly, visits each other. And visiting each other did not exist only there. The same could be observed in Baku, in other cities. 30 percent of the population was Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh, there were no problems. And we in Azerbaijan, I am speaking about the beginning of this conflict, we absolutely did not plan to create a conflict. We lived as I described, and we were satisfied with it. But it appeared that it did not satisfy Armenia in some stages. And they incited the separatist forces and the situation aggravated and turned into a war.

Therefore, there is only one sufferer, that is Azerbaijan. Because, its lands have been occupied, the Azerbaijanis have been completely expelled from the occupied territories. But Armenia has also suffered to some extent, because of the war. Certainly, there are losses, victims, blood in both sides. Therefore a fair decision, certainly, should take it into the consideration the interests of both parties. But the interests of the parties do not coincide.

And you as the representatives of three great states, representatives of the Minsk Group and representatives of OSCE should determine what Azerbaijan must do and what Armenia must do to solve this question. Any unilateral approach in favor of one party, naturally, will not give a chance to solve this question. Azerbaijan does not have any ambitions. Azerbaijan wants the liberation of the occupied territories. Azerbaijan wants restoration of the past order in Nagorno-Karabakh within the frames of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan wants peace with Armenia. Nothing additional. This is our desire, we have no any other pretension, we have not any territorial claims against Armenia. And Armenia has great ambitions, therefore you should consider it. And if it is not taken into consideration, certainly, the decision will not be found.

You said that there was no military way of solution to the conflict. I understand it, I am in the same opinion from the very beginning. And consequently, in 1994, we agreed on a cease-fire with Armenia by the mediation of Russia. And more than 7 years, we observe the cease-fire regime without the presence of any peace-keeping forces, in my opinion it has no analogue in the world. It already shows that we want peace.

Certainly, Armenia wants peace, too. But we want peace, and I especially emphasize it, because we have suffered. Our territory has been occupied, our people live in tents in critical conditions. We have suffered greater losses, however we want peace in this question. The long history of mankind has witnessed many wars, one party gains advantage, then the other party grows stronger and attacks the other party again. Similar things happened both in Europe and in Russia, in this regard the USA perhaps was happy.

I forgot and began to speak in Russian. You see, I am so anxious that first automatically I began to speak in Russian, and then I spoke too long that I did not give an opportunity to the interpreter. All these are connected with my anxiety. This question must be solved. That is, there is no problem to speak in Russian, it is natural. But our conversation will be translated by TV and radioed. It is necessary that all the population understand my words.

I said that the world history has fitnessed many wars. Wars broke in all the regions of the world, in some cases they went on for centuries. Only the USA is lucky that it did not wage a war with other countries in its own territory. Some time, it waged a war inside the country and then put an end to it. But France and Germany were at war for hundred years. Why? Because in the past France occupied German territories. Then Germany when grew stronger and occupied the French territories in order to release its lands. It is a historical reality. I am talking about it because, I am the supporter of a peaceful resolution of the question, and I am devoted to this position today as well. But our nation, our people cannot bear it too long. They think that if the question is not solved peacefully, then we shall wage a war - either we shall be defeated, or we shall release our lands. Nobody can object them.

Mr. Vyacheslav Ivanovich spoke about a meeting, taken place today with the heads of the religious communities, heads of three faiths. As I understand, it is an example for us. It is really very pleasant. But the matter is that the people belonging to different religions in Azerbaijan, have never been at war with each other. Azerbaijan historically was a multinational country.

The majority of the population here is Azerbaijanis belonging to Islam, but at the same time both Russians and Armenians lived here were Christians and the Jews belonged to their own religion. That is, there was no religious conflict in our country, in Azerbaijan. I do not relate the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan to the religion. This war began because of the claims of Armenia to the Azerbaijani territories. Speaking about it, I want you to know that the number of people in Azerbaijan eager to begin the war is growing, and it is quite natural.

My understanding to this question as President of Azerbaijan and that of an ordinary citizen cannot be the same. But the thing is that we have one president, and 8 million population. You always speak much about democracy. According to democracy, the minority should obey the majority. Therefore, I am not democratic here. Naturally, I am joking. But, as you know, in each joke there is a bit of truth.

I repeat that I have struggled and I shall struggle together with you for the solution of the question. But the situation today is requires the achievement of concrete results. Therefore, this is my request, my wish, my dream.

If you have nothing to add, then we can continue our conversation in private, as you asked.