Interview of Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev to "CNN Turk" TV - March 15, 2001

Taha Akyol: Mister President, thank you for receiving us. In the speech, delivered at Boyuk Millet Mejlisi you said that in Turkey you feel like in you own home. The Turkish people consider you the leader of another Turkey. As you said: "We are one nation but two countries". I express you my profound gratitude for accepting to give an interview to "CNN Turk" TV.

I would like to give my first question related with Armenian-Azerbaijani Mountainous Garabagh conflict. There is some revival here. While visiting Paris in connection with affiliation of Azerbaijan to Council of Europe you met President Jacque Chirak and discussed this issue with him. After that you were invited to the United States by US State Secretary Powell. What is the status of your meetings with Jacque Chirak and Kocharyan and what are you taking to America?

Heydar Aliyev: First of all, I would like to say that when "CNN" was established in Turkey I have send a congratulation letter and I wished you successes. Now I am very glad that you are working at this television very successfully. Aydin Dogan, heading all these works, does great work. Therefore, I send him my greetings and compliments.

My address to members of parliament of Boyuk Millet Mejlisi of Turkey is a historical event for me. I told there how great history Boyuk Millet Majlisi has and how it is important. I told about some issues. However, the problem making anxious us, Azerbaijani, and not only Azerbaijan, but also Turkey and Caucasus is the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. This conflict lasts for a long time. It is already as long as 12 years that Armenians commenced aggression for occupation of Mountainous Garabagh region of Azerbaijan and in the result of this aggression they managed to occupy for several reasons some 20% of Azerbaijani territory. They occupied 20% of our territory and more than one million Azerbaijanis were driven out of their homes, they are refugees and they live in tents.

Question: Mister President, after saying all that to Jacque Chirak what was his answer?

Answer: I have told it to all world. There is no place where I didn`t tell about it. This was not my first meeting with Jacque Chirak. I have met him 15 times and each time I told him about it.

Question: Your last meeting with Jacque Chirac was also very improtant from the viewpoint of acceptance of the decision by parliament of France on "Armenian genocide". The dashnak President of Armenia Kocharyan was there also. Did Jacque Chirac say anything, when you told that more than one million Azerbaijanis were driven out from their homelands on the force of the weapon by Armenians?

Answer: You know, they have already got used to it. There are double standards in the world. Therefore, in one place some action is considered lawful, and in other place the same action is not lawful. For example, there is international law in conformity to which no state can occupy the territory of another state. It cannot break its border, cannot make aggression. The United Nations Organization supports preservation of territorial integrity of any state. All this is written, this is present at all documents, this is everywhere, everybody speaks about it. However, everybody uses it in interests of the country. Therefore, it is not new to Chirac.

Question: Did you see that Chirac takes the position of principle - not a position of the double standard - like "Azerbaijan experienced aggression, Armenia is an aggressor "?

Answer: You know, I told him about it. Moreover, I said it at the presence of the Armenian President Kocharyan. However, they do not pay attention to it. The Minsk group has been established for settlement of the Armenian -Azerbaijani conflict in 1992. Three countries - Russia, USA and France co-chairs the Minsk Group.

In fact, 12 states are presented in Minsk group. Turkey is also the member of the Minsk group. However, Minsk group is supervised by three co-chairmen. I have been discussing this problem with Clinton as long as 7 years. I met him 15-16 times and spoke about all this. Or, I met the former president of Russia Yeltsin - I don`t even know how many times. I have met the new president Putin also.

Question: Mister President, how do you perceive such an active attention of America to this problem, also Powell`s personal initiative to invite you to America?

Answer: You know, it is not new. Since 1994 I have repeatedly met in America President Clinton, State Secretary Albright, and also with other people, we signed agreements. They always spoke that they would assist in the settlement of this problem. However, they didn`t do it. Now, I feel that co-chairmen of the Minsk group wish to undertake some active actions. That is, while carrying out negotiations, President Chirac consulted by phone both with President Bush, and with President Putin. Both I and Kocharyan visited France. If Powell invites … really, being here on a visit, I did not hear about it. You are the first informed me about it. But I knew that they have been preparing for this.

Question: Mister President, are you satisfied with the fact that for settlement of Mountainous Garabagh problem you have to overcome a long distance and meet Kocharyan in Florida on April, 3?

Answer: I am satisfied. I am glad to have any opportunity. It enables me to declare that an aggression against Azerbaijan was undertaken. There is new government and, new president in America now. There are new people and they should know about it. However, there is a common opinion: presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan should come together, come to any agreement, and what they will agree for, this agreement will also be accepted by America, France, and Russia. The matter is that Armenia occupied the territory of Azerbaijan. Therefore, it puts conditions before us. I cannot accept them. Now we will see, what will be these conditions in America, which of these conditions we can accept and which will do they.

Question: Mister President, do you consider any model at the meetings with Kocharyan?

Answer: There were some models. Moreover, in 1999, I think that we agreed on a normal model. However, by the end of 1999 Kocharyan refused it.

Yes, in 1998 there was a proposal of the Minsk group accepted by Ter-Petrosyan. However, people surrounding Ter-Petrosyan, have opposed it, and he had to resign.

Question: Personally you have undergone many encroachments connected with the Mountainous Garabagh problem, as well as those of Caucasus and energy. An action to overthrow you by revolution was undertaken, you faced with attempts. And then it became known, that Moscow in the period of rule of Yeltsin has transferred to Armenia some onwe billion worth dollars weapon. The new leader of Russia Putin has arrived and has met you. Do you see any changes in the position of Russia? Does Russia approach Azerbaijan?

Answer: You know, Russia wishes rapprochement with Azerbaijan since Azerbaijan takes a special place on Caucasus due to its geostrategic position. Consequently, Russia wants, to have good communications with Azerbaijan, it wants to have them even more improved.

They have delivered some one billion US dollars worth weapon to Armenia. Not have sold it but transferred it them. When I told about it to Yeltsin for the first time in March, 1997, he became angry and said that he is going to take measures, guilty people will be severely punish. I have met him again after three months. I saw that he is talking another things this time. There was feeling that we were speaking about different things. Afterward we have undertaken several efforts.

Putin came to power. He told to me that he is aware of this problem and he knows how it happened. Putin was intending to do something. But they have armed forces there. Then Putin said, that this is already a passed stage. I demanded, that these weapons must be taken back. But he has answered, that it is already impossible, and they do not even know, where are those weapons.

Question: Esteemed President, the today`s leader of Russia Putin shows affinity to Azerbaijan. Of course, this is connected with Caucasus, power, gas and oil pipelines. At the same time Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Oskanyan said that they are in the strategic union with Russia. Does such position of Russia satisfy you? Does Russia takes of a neutral position between Armenia and Azerbaijan for settlement of this problem, this conflict?

Answer: We object to creation of the military union of Russia with Armenia. I have repeatedly spoke about it. We object to deployment of Russian military bases, military units in Armenia. I have told it to Yeltsin before coming of Putin, and now I have told also it to Putin.

Question: What did Putin answer to your objection?

Answer: You know, all of them say the same. They say, that this is not directed against Azerbaijan. I ask, then against whom? They answer that against NATO. I ask: where is NATO? Answer is that NATO is on your border in Baku. NATO is in Turkey. I say this openly to you since I have repeatedly spoken about it.

Question: Have Yeltsin, and then Putin frankly told that Russian armed units in Armenia are directed against NATO to Turkey?

Answer: That`s right.

Question: How do you see the policy carried out nowadays in Armenia, in comparison with two-three years earlier - it became stronger or weaker?

Answer: Armenians are strong politicians, they have a very strong Diaspora. Those who supports them are strong as well. From the economic viewpoint Armenia is in a very bad condition. A part of its population has left Armenia. The economic situation there is very difficult. Therefore, they want this problem to be settled. States supporting Armenia want it as well. Not for the purpose to liberate the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. They don`t want that Armenia choked. Armenia will choke in a year or two.

Question: Actually, Armenia is in very difficult situation from the economic viewpoint. However, an initiative has been taken recently. An agreement on both political and economic cooperation was signed among Armenia, Iran and Greece, they have met. How do you perceive it?

Answer: How I can perceive it? I regret very much that our close neighbor - Iran - conducts such an extensive trade with Armenia, establishes with it wide communications.

Question: One of respiratory arteries of Armenia is Iran …

Answer: Yes, Iran is one of respiratory arteries of Armenia. The former President Ter-Petrosyan told once: "If trading communications with Iran will stop for two days, we will choke". You are absolutely right. Iran is one of the largest arteries. But they do it.

Now you saw, that the President of Iran has visited Moscow. It has occurred for the first time in history. Since then, when 22 years ago Khomeini cme to power, the President of Iran has visited Moscow for the first time. Only shah did it once before. This is to say that relationships between Iran and Russia were always strained.

Question: Mister President, I understand that the policy of Iran, its support from of Armenia makes you anxious, as well as Iran`s establishment of close relationships with Russia. Am I rights?

Answer: Of course, it causes anxiety.

Question: Do you hope that Mountainous Garabagh problem will be settled in forthcoming one or two years?

Answer: You know, I always live with hope. When I meet refugees, I feel pain in my heart, and not only when I meet them. I speak you sincerely: I cannot sleep at night since one million people live in tents, in snow, and in rain. Therefore, I want this problem to be settled, and I do my best for this purpose.

About 70 percent of all my endeavors is directed for settlement of this problem. There is no organization, no state in the world where I did not discuss these problem. The only way remaining is war. There are those in Azerbaijan offering the military way of settlement. But I do not think that war is an acceptable method today. However, going in war again is a right way.

Question: In your speech delivered in Majlis you have told, that your attitudes with Turkey are characterized by strategic partnership.

Answer: We have signed such an agreement. An agreement on strategic cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan was signed in 1997.

Question: Are you satisfied? Are you satisfied with support rendered by Turkey to Azerbaijan?

Answer: From the political viewpoint, I am.

Question: It`s clear from the political viewpoint. Besides politics, are you satisfied with the support in economic or social spheres?

Answer: You are aware of it.

Question: Mister the President, you have answered very diplomatically. It is the answer of skilled diplomat Heydar Aliyev. I wish to know your opinion. Did you speak about it with the esteemed President, the prime minister?

Answer: These days we have had very extensive negotiations, discussions with esteemed President, with esteemed prime minister, and with esteemed Head of Joint Stuff. We spoke with President in private during three hours.

Question: Do you want to speak about it?

Answer: No.

Question: Are you satisfied?

Heydar Aliyev: I am satisfied with negotiations. But the results..

Question: Next time I will ask you about results.

Heydar Aliyev: Then will you ask me.

Question: Mister President, an agreement on export from 2 to 6 billion cubic meter of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey is signed. You are very pleased with this. You were worried that Turkey would buy gas from Russia. Has this anxiety passed now?

Heydar Aliyev: You know, I do not want to interfere with business of Turkey. But Turkey has a great need for gas. Last night I heard on Turkish TV that minister of power Cumhur Ersuner wishes to import gas from Egypt. He buys it from Russia, from Egypt, and from Azerbaijan, perhaps, it is necessary for Turkey. I think that this is normal. However, I think, that Azerbaijani gas should be exported to Turkey firstly. Not only from the economic point of view, but also from the point of view of strategic partnership.

Question: Mister President, will the Azeri gas be sold to Turkey on the reduced price?

Heydar Aliyev: I don`t deal with the issues of commerce. Of course, it will be sold on world market prices.

Question: Is the question on delivery of oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and export of gas - on the separate pipeline settled?

Heydar Aliyev: Yes, actually there is not any problem concerning the project of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. That is all agreements are signed. Now only engineering and design works remain to do. The companies, engaged in its construction, are dealing with fund raising. Recently this question was regarded superficially in Turkey. I expressed my critics in this connection in Baku, that is have expressed anxiety. But here our negotiations have resolved all. Now there is not any problem. For example, the president of Georgia has sent me a congratulation in connection with signing of the agreement on gas as it is very important for Georgia as well. We have signed the agreement on natural gas, and also the intergovernmental agreement, the agreement on sale and purchase of 6 billion cubic meter of gas. I have already said that in the future we can deliver to Turkey some 15-20 billion cubic metre of gas.

Question: You know that the consortium is established fort he construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have their share in it. This consortium hesitates. Now it has changed the position on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Did the agreement on natural gas play the role in it? As they want, that extracted gas was on sale. And in this region Turkey is the country which can buy gas most .

Heydar Aliyev: I can not tell if it has played any role. Because we have solved the problem on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan previously. You know, there are some companies in consortium opposing Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. But the largest companies support it. Therefore, I do not see here any problem. It will succeed. Of course, many countries do not want it. But you say that some companies wanted the pipeline passed through Russia. They wanted not so much its passing through Russia, there is another Baku-Supsa pipeline, they wanted to increase its capacity. Now we transport 5-6 million tons of oil via this pipeline. They were saying that it is possible to transport, for example, 15-20 million tons, and in 2-3 years we will begin to construct Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan But I said: no. Baku-Ceyhan must be constructed now. Some people suggested to construct it through Iran since this way is cheaper, distance from Iran is shorter, we will manage it construct is more cheaply. The USA have disagreed with it also, and I consider, that in 1994 we have laid the foundation for Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. I have been strengthening this base in the course of the last 6 years. And consequently it is my work.

Question:Mister President, indeed, you have enclosed many efforts in realization of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. On this way you have faced with great dangers. Indeed, it is your work. I wish to ask about the status of Caspian sea. In this question there are serious problems. In particular, you have problems with Iran and Turkmenistan. The question on the status of Caspian sea is very important for Azerbaijan and from the point of view of delivery of Kazakh oil and Turkmen gas to Turkey through Caspian sea. Is the settlement of this problem underway?

Heydar Aliyev: You know, many years are required for the definition of the status of Caspian sea. But I think, -and we follow these way, - that first of all it is necessary to be engaged in development of mineral resources in the Caspian sea, that is deposits of natural gas and oil as there is navigation, fishery, environmental problems, and many others. All them are present here. It is impossible to resolve all of them.

In 1994 while all countries were against it, Azerbaijan has started to work in its sector of Caspian sea, during existence of Soviet Union Caspian sea belonged only to it. Therefore it has divided it between republics on sectors - in 1994 we have signed the first contract. 20 contracts are signed already. We do not fall outside the limits of our borders. It is good, that Russia has accepted this principle, that is it has signed the agreement with Kazakhstan. During visit to Azerbaijan, to Baku Putin has signed one more agreement with us. I think that Turkmenistan will accept this principle as well.

Question: This is to say that delivery of Turkmen gas through Azerbaijan to Turkey is possible?

Heydar Aliyev: I can not say it. It is another matter. That is one business - to accept a principle of division on sectors… For example, we have signed the agreement on principles of use of Caspian sea with Russia. These principles consist that each country has the sector - from its territory up to the middle of Caspian sea. We have signed the agreement with Russia about it.

Question: Does Kazakhstan agree with this agreement?

Heydar Aliyev: It was signed by Kazakhstan too.

Question: Does Iran oppose it?

Heydar Aliyev: Iran doesn`t agree. It says that Caspian Sea must be divided on 5 equal sectors. This is impossible.

Question: Hence, Mister President, since Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan adhere the same principle in use of Caspian Sea, then there will not be any problem with transportation of Kazakh oil to Baku and then - to Turkey.

Heydar Aliyev: That is another case, because Russia doesn`t want that Kazakh oil is exported here. Russia doesn`t object that Kazakhstan extracts oil in its sector. However, the matter of export is a different thing. It has nothing to do with that. For instance, during signing of agreement on principle of division on sectors with Russia we didn`t engaged ourselves in any charge on where, which country and what itinerary will be chosen for oil export.

Question: Mister President, I have just received information that supposedly two Chechens hijacked the plane belonging to Russian airlines. The plane landed in Medina, Saudi Arabia. We will see what will happen there. What can you say on Chechen problem?

Heydar Aliyev: You know, perhaps, it is just a little incident. There were many similar incidents in the world. However, the problem of Chechnya is a big problem. Two principles are collided here. That is to say that on one behalf there is international law - the territorial integrity of each country must be provided. Russia ensures its territorial integrity. Therefore it doesn`t want to give independence to Chechnya. However, Chechens say: we want to be independent. Therefore, the war lasts as long as 5-6 years. You see the situation there.

Question: Mister President, after having announced the interview with you on TV, we have received many calls. People express you their love, respect and consideration. I would like to communicate you on behalf of our spectators.

Turkish drivers, driving through Iran to Azerbaijan are charged a lot of money - road dues. I have received many calls on this matter; I have to say you about it. Is it possible to facilitate this procedure between Azerbaijan and Turkey?

Heydar Aliyev: The status of our relationships with Turkey is very high. Passage of drivers is a small issue. Firstly, this is not a problem. Secondly, this problem is not for being considered on the President`s level. I gave order to Prime Minister, he is dealing with these issues.

Question: That is clear, if you gave order, the problem will be solved. We welcome your initiative.

Mister President, in conclusion, I want to ask you about Azerbaijan. It is said, you are going to establish the post of Azerbaijan`s President Assistant…

Heydar Aliyev: That is not right, there was not such intention. Someone has fabricated it. I know that our opposition fabricates sometimes such fictions. Don`t trust them.

Taha Akyol: Mister President, thank you very much for receiving us, for such an important interview. Indeed, you have given very important clarifications. If you want to say something to Turkish people via "CNN Turk" TV channel - you can.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. Seizing this opportunity I express my respect, consideration and love to brother Turkish people, to citizens of Turkey. I wish peace, order and prosperity to Turkey.

Taha Akyol: Mister President, we express our gratitude to you once again.