From the conversation of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev with the delegation of the ‎Russian Federation headed by Victor Kalyuzhny, deputy foreign minister, special envoy of the ‎Russian President on the status of the Caspian Sea - Presidential Palace, July 13, 2000‎

Heydar Aliyev: Viktor Ivanovich, you have already got a new position, haven't you?

Victor Kalyuzhny: Yes. However, I am still there and engaged in the same practical problems.

Heydar Aliyev: It means, the problems concerning also Azerbaijan.

Victor Kalyuzhny: In general, I think I have come to my own home. It is always pleasant to visit Baku. I come here with good emotions.

Heydar Aliyev: I am greeting you in your new position. I think, it is a right decision of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to organize this entity and appoint you as its head, and it can help the promotion of effective cooperation between the Caspian countries and the solution of the issues that we could not resolve.

Victor Kalyuzhny: Thank you that you could find time to receive us. It is pleasant that the visit begins with the meeting and talk with you. I say that it is pleasant to come here; there is so much common to us. We, oil workers watch everybody and everything in the oil industry. So it is estimable that Azerbaijan is moving forward, the level of GDP of your country is rising, and the industry is developing. It is estimable.

It shows that Azerbaijan follows a right course and it is necessary to speed up, to improve and broaden all this work. Oil workers have always been a stronghold of the government; when the government is wise, they get a stronger bulwark. I think that Azerbaijan has got a great impetus for the development after the revival of the oil industry thanks to your attention and influence.

About the issues of the Caspian. They have existed, exist and will exist. During this visit we want to negotiate about our position. I want to say that I have grown up in an industrial sphere, not diplomatic. I need a result in short time. So I started my work quite actively in order to learn the opinions of the countries, summarize them and try to search the ways of its solution. In Russia I have met some academicians and leading oil companies. After Kazakhstan we are going from the North to the South. Now we are here, we`ll be in Ashgabat on July 18-19 and Iran on July 25.

Heydar Aliyev: Have you been to Kazakhstan?

Victor Kalyuzhny: I have been to Kazakhstan; that visit was on the same time with the birthday of Nursultan Nazarbayev. I presented him our president's letter of congratulation, we celebrated the birthday and had a talk.

Later I`d like to initiate on behalf of Russia an assembly in Astrakhan in the beginning of August. We shall negotiate in a semi-official meeting and try to discuss all the problems, put them right and determine their rotation. Because Teheran prolongs the realization of the next meeting.

Heydar Aliyev: But they promised. While being in Iran on a high level meeting of ECO, I was told that they would organize this meeting. I declared that we should participate. Now they are delaying it.

Victor Kalyuzhny: Yes, they say, there is no positive proposal, so no need to waste time and so on. Then I met the deputy Foreign Minister of Iran and said to him if they didn't want to assemble, we could gather ourselves, and then they would think about joining us. He told me that we all could assemble. It must have been planned for July 24-25. Today we talked to your Foreign Minister, they haven't decided yet; it seems they want to organize it in September. In my opinion, we should not wait; there are proposals, it is necessary to meet, we need an active discussion of this issue. I think, if we start to discuss it actively, we shall find the ways of its solution. The current situation is like this.

Heydar Aliyev: It is true, Viktor Ivanovich. I always say that since the beginning we have supported the discussion and solution of this issue. You are aware that Azerbaijan is involved in this issue since the beginning of the new stage of developments of the energy reserves of the Caspian Sea. By the way, in 1994 we signed the "Contract of the Century" with participation of the Russian company "LUKOil". As soon as we signed that contract, the discussion of this issue gained strength; some told that the Caspian Sea had its status. But we declared then and declare now that there is a permanent rule that unless there is a new law or a new treaty, the old practice can be used. According to the practice, the Soviet government and the Ministry of Oil Industry divided the Caspian Sea into sectors during the Soviet Union.

We started to realize this work in our sector and we always took into consideration that there are new conditions and all the pre-Caspian countries are free and independent. Then it was realized in the Soviet period. You are also aware that the oil developments in the Caspian Sea started first the deposit of Oil Rocks in 1949. Later the Azerbaijani scientists conducted explorations in the Caspian Sea and discovered a lot of oilfields, also in the sector of Turkmenistan. They used to work there because we lived in one state. There was the Azerbaijan Caspian Oil Company which worked in the Caspian Sea. It used to produce oil in the sectors of both Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The reports were conducted like this: the oil produced in the Turkmen sector remained for Turkmenistan, and the oil produced in the sector of Azerbaijan remained for Azerbaijan. Less oil was produced in the sector of Turkmenistan

Then less oil was produced in other of Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran. When the sector of Iran was determined, there was a border. By the way, now Iran refers to agreements signed in 1921 and 1941 very often. So there was a border along the line Astara-Hasanguli between the Soviet Union and Iran, and the Soviet frontier troops used to guard it seriously and didn't let Iran break the boundary. There were a special brigade, planes and other means that were engaged in it, they used to guard the boundary of the Soviet Union in the Caspian Sea seriously.

Thus, according to the old practice, Iran has its own sector. Then Iran didn't think about oil developments in the Caspian Sea, because everything it had was in the Persian Gulf and in the South. Great changes have taken place since that time. There are 5 pre-Caspian countries- Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran. We could not wait till the determination of the status of the Caspian Sea, so we used the old practice. However, we are for the determination of the status of the Caspian Sea and for the sectors of each country.

By the way, once we assembled in Astrakhan. Then- in 1994 on the initiative of Viktor Stepanovich Chernomirdin all the countries were assembled. Later there were a number of such meetings. One- in Ashgabat, the others- in Iran, Moscow and Almaty. Shortly, the discussions were conducted, but there was no result. However, now I see that a new stage is beginning and it is nice. We want it and in my opinion, if you get involved in this issue seriously, the pre-Caspian countries may reach a unanimous agreement and define the status. Then there will be peace, no one will claim against the other. Thus, I welcome your initiative and arrival.