Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijcan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting of the commission that elaborates the draft of the new constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic - November 10, 1995

Ladies and gentlemen!

Honorable members of the commission!

Today, on the eve of the referendum, we are having the last meeting of the commission that was established to elaborate the draft of the new constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic. The commission has been functioning for over 6 months. It has had 8 meetings within six months. The working group established by the commission has had more meetings and has been working more intensively. During the time between meetings the people inwoled, including me have spent a lot of time for the preparation of the draft. I believe our efforts and time yielded good results. Having done our best, we could prepare the draft Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and introduce it to the people.

Each member of the constitutional commission has taken an active part in this work. But I have to note that the working group established by the commission and the experts and lawyers involved have done more practical work. The staff of the Presidential Office has worked much. So has the staff of the Supreme Soviet. Thanks to their efforts, we, the commission members have had discussions based on concrete projects, and proposals at our meetings. I hope today - after the draft constitution was introduced to the people - it will be adopted by referendum on November 12. I also thank the members of the constitutional commission. I want to thank the working group specially. Because they have done more practical work, did scientific researches and investigations, got acquainted with provisions of existing constitutions, compared our draft with them, and done many other jobs.

I thank the working group specially. The people who have been more engaged in this work and have submitted documents to me directly and consistently, also the staff of the law departments in the President Office and Supreme Soviet have worked a lot. I have been in touch with the head of the low department of the Presidential Office Shahin Aliyev and the head of the law department of the Supreme Soviet Sefa Mirzeyev very intensively. I have followed their activity disceutly. I thank them specially.

In general, we can feel morally comfortable today. Because a historical job has been done. A historical document has been created. Today in front of our public and world community we can say that we have directly participated in the preparation of the first democratic constitution in the history of our nation and this draft is a result of our joint productive activity.

When the commission started its job, I said we took over a big responsibility. We have a big responsibility in front of future generations. Today I can say that no commission member should worry about. I am confident because we have realized our task ol duty with honesty and loyalty to our nation; we are proud of the job we have done and the draft we have introduced to the people. I believe there are answers to all the questions that may arise in future generations. We are participants of the creation of a historical document and we are proud of it.

Personally I have approached to the preparation of this document with a big responsibility. The experience of my long-term career, the difficulties I met in the past, especially during the years of hardships have made me a responsible person. As the chairman of the commission I have always perceived my personal responsibility in the preparation of this historical document and I still do. Thus, I have spent a lot of time for the elaboration of the draft. I have a right to say that I have made big efforts. I have researched meanings of every word and phrase many times, and analyzed their importance for present and future. Today I sign the draft with a big relief and state my full responsibility for the draft. I think we have prepared an important document (both political and legal) for present and future of Azerbaijan.

There is no need to analyze the draft of the commission. Because everyone here is a participant of the elaboration of the draft constitution. I reiterate that it is the result of our joint activity.

But I want to touch some points. The main significance of the draft is that it is the first freely elaborated constitution in the history of our nation. I can even call it the first constitution. The history of the constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic was told at our previous meetings. We mentioned the constitutions adopted in 1921, 1937, and 1978. They were the constitutions of the socialistic Azerbaijan, which was part of the Soviet Union, but played a big role in the historical development and survival of the Azerbaijan Republic throughout 70 years. We must always respect history and appreciate our past. Today I express my respect to the constitution makers and to the works done in Azerbaijan for decades based on that constitution.

But the current draft constitution completely differs from previous constitutions and laws. It differs because it is going to be the Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan Republic, which is a UN member and an equal member of the world community. It differs because this draft, expressing the will of the Azerbaijani people and not being controlled from any center, is the result of the activity of the constitutional commission and of our citizens, who participated in the elaboration of the draft constitution with us. It is the result of our free and independent activity. Thus, this draft constitution distinguishes from all previous constitutions and carries a historical importance.

Azerbaijan has been independent for four years. Now we are going to adopt the first Constitution of our 4-year independent state. Therefore, this draft is different and historical. There is no need to talk about provisions of the draft constitution; its main content expresses the will of the people, creates a legal basis for the Azerbaijani stathood, includes the principles of public administration in Azerbaijan, reflects the relationship between state and people, and sets up all legal basis for establishment of legal, democratic and secular state in the independent Azerbaijan Republic. All its articles express the will of the people. The main concept on people being the source of power is obviously reflected in the draft. Separation of powers in administration and in statehood is reflected based on full democratic principles.

The experience of world constitutions was used in our draft constitution. At the same time, it reflects historical traditions and characteristics of Azerbaijan. Besides, it includes uniqie principles to secure present and future of the Azerbaijan Republic in general. Therefore, the draft constitution reflects full democratic principles in its content and meaning. Yet, it is not similar to any other constitution. It is our own constitution. It is the Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan Republic.

I reiterate that all democratic principles are reflected in the draft. The principles on power are known. 48 articles of the Constitution deal with human rights and freedoms. It means, one third of the general text is dedicated to human rights and freedoms. It demonstrates that the Constitution creates all conditions for Azerbaijani citizens to live freely and independently. The Constitution also includes main principles on state-building, on building the domestic economy, on distribution of power: authority, independence, and mutual activity of legislative, executive and juridical branches.

Since the draft Constitution was published, over three thousand proposals have been submitted to the Constitutional Commission by citizens and various organizations. The proposals were reviewed and studied by the working group; most of them were used in elaborating and updating the draft Constitution.

We have discussed each article of the draft Constitution very thoroughly. But one article was specially discussed. It is the article on the official language of Azerbaijan. The reasons for special discussion were inaccuracy on this problem since past times, the relevant law illegally adopted by Milli Majlis in December 1992, and moreover special attention of our nation, intelligensia, scientists, creative people to this problem.

Given all these factors, that issue was democratically and thoroughly discussed. First, I want to note that only 23 proposals out of 3,000 proposals submitted to the Constitutional Commission propose naming the official language Turkish or Azerbaijani Turkish in the constitution. However, considering the importance of this issue, as the chairman of the constitutional commission, I initiated broad discussions. It was not regulated by any agenda or no one proposed me to do it, I must say.

No one from the Constitutional Commission proposed me special discussion on this article. But perceiving the importance of this article, I proposed and organized its special discussion.

As you know, this issue was discussed in the Constitutional Commission on October 14. Later, on October 31 it was discussed broadly in the Academy of Sciences with participation of Azerbaijani scientists, intelligentsia, reporters, writers, poets, and linguists. 27 people spoke there. Afterwards, another meeting of the Constitutional Commission was dedicated to this subject. High-level experts and interested parties were also invited to the meeting besides the members of the Constitutional Commission. The issue was discussed there; over 25 people made speeches. Later when the updated draft constitution was discussed in the constitutional commission again, some members of the commission who had not spoken about this article before, stated their opinions; so we discussed this subject transparently and democratically. I consider that as a result of our discussions we made the truest, the most correct, and the most reasonable decision, which states the official language of Azerbaijan is Azerbaijani. This is a significant decision for the Azerbaijani people, their moral, and the development of their language. This is a reasonable decision for the peoples that make up the entire Azerbaijani nation to accept it as their own language; I think this decision is a respect to our past and a very big gift for future generations. I think we made a very correct and reasonable decision.

Another chapter of the draft Constitution attracted special interest. This chapter and its articles deal with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Not understanding the significance of these articles and approaching this issue superficially and formally, some people claim that Azerbaijan, as a unitary state, can not have an autonomous republic within. Some claim that it may lead to federalism of Azerbaijan and so on.

These thoughts have no ground. I reiterate that these are populist claims of some people with no legal and political knowledge and experience. Yet we attached a special attention to it, as we did to each proposal. We discussed them with experts several times. We studied experience of other countries. We studied unitary states and democratically advanced European countries with autonomies within. We had been aware of them before, but in order to justify our ideas we studied them. I think the chapter was elaborated comprehensively and the article that ensures the territorial integrity and independence of Azerbaijan is of historical importance - both for our historical past, considering the cases we have faced since the establishment of the autonomous republic within Azerbaijan and our future.

The main importance of the draft constitution is that it ensures the independence and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, the inviolability of rights of the Azerbaijani people, the protection of rights of every citizen, the indivisibility of Azerbaijan, and the impossibility of seizure of power by any force.

Therefore, the draft constitution is a valuable historical document; I hope our nation will adopt it. I am sure the voters of the Azerbaijan Republic that count 4.3 million will come to polling stations on November 12, take part in the referendum, and vote for the new constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic.

At the same time, I want to note that some opposition parties and political forces which call the people to refrain from voting for this constitution do nothing for elaborating the constitution of Azerbaijan. Since the Constitutional Commission started its activity, its meetings have been held transparenc, they have been delivered to the people on TV, and the discussions at the meetings have been published in press. We addressed to all entities, scientific institutions, creative unions, scientists, intelligentsia, as well as political parties that it is a nationwide issue. It doesn’t matter what concept or political organization you belong to. It is the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and everyone should participate in its elaboration. Especially politicians and political organizations should attach more importance to this issue. But today I want to state that no project on the draft constitution has been submitted by any political party during our 6-month activity. By no political party.

If those political parties really devote their political activity to present and future of the Azerbaijan Republic, they should have been involved in this activity, should have submitted their projects,should have appealed to the constitutional commission, should have justified their projects and should have proved their necessity for Azerbaijan. There have been favorable conditions for them during the last six months. And no political party has elaborated or submitted any project.

We are involved in state affairs. We have big and hard duties. We preside over the state. Each of the commission members is responsible for any field and heads a relevant state agency. We have a lot to do. However, we spent much time for this affair and elaborated this draft. And those political parties have no activities, but political activity. What is their political activity? Publication of newspapers. I think, if they have normal political activity, they should prepare and submit their concepts, projects, and proposals on present and future of the Azerbaijan Republic. It doesn’t matter if you like the current government or head of state. You should still submit your proposal or project for the future of the country, if you want to serve your nation. If you argue that your proposal or project is better than others, you should try to prove it. If those political parties really perceived the significance of this issue, any valuable project might have been introduced by them.

But no political institution, - I mean opposition parties, because other parties are pro-government and their positions suit the official position, - has submitted a proposal or project. Some provisions of the draft were criticized in some newspapers. Our commission members also review those critics. If they had any valuable ideas, they would have been used. Perhaps some ideas of the critics have been used. I don’t exclude it. But the involvement does not include only critics. If the opposition really wants to serve the Azerbaijani people and statehood, it was an opportunity for them. They will not have a second chance. A long-living constitution of Azerbaijan is being prepared and the people are going to referendum. But the political parties are out of it.

This morning I read on Yeni Musavat newspaper that the Musavat party calls the people not to go to the referendum and not to vote for the constitution. What should they vote for then? If they had submitted their own project, they would have called the people to vote for that. Can the opposition keep such an irresponsible and treacherous position? They have not introduced any proposal or project during six months, but now they request people not to go to the referendum and not to vote for the constitution.

Why am I saying this so nervously? Will anyone respond to the request of the Musavat party? No. If the Musavat Party had a reputation in Azerbaijan, it could have collected fifty thousand signatures. If it could not collect fifty thousand signatures, what reputation does it claim? Therefore, this request does not worry me; such calls don’t worry me at all. I am sure that the people will go to referendum and vote for the draft constitution. But if some people don’t want to vote for it, they can come and justify their position. Thus, I don’t want to influence voters. Whoever wants, can come and vote. But everyone is free not to come.

I call the opposition and Musavat members to come, too. Even though they have not submitted any proposal for six months, they can come to polling stations. I instruct the chairman of the Central Election Commission Jafar Valiyev to collect ideas to be submitted and to announce them later. But calling people to refrain from voting is a violation of law.

I am sure that our citizens and voters will come to polling stations on November 12 and take part in the referendum. Eventually our draft constitution will be adopted, and it will read to a new stage in the history of the Azerbaijani people, new opportunities in the field of state-building, and favorable conditions for every citizen to live and work freely in a democratic state, as well as conditions for protecting their rights. This constitution guarantees all of this.

The activities of the Constitutional Commission also included preparation of the draft law on elections to Milli Majlis, the parliament of Azerbaijan Republic, alongside the draft constitution. That draft law was discussed and adopted by Milli Majlis. As a result, the parliamentary elections are starting in Azerbaijan. We elaborated an election code, which is the part of the constitution, before the adoption of the constitution. We can say that this draft law was accepted by the world community, the democratic circles of the world, and by our citizens as a law based on democratic principles to establish a democratic parliament. It is an achievement of the Constitutional Commission.

There will be elections on November 12. The first democratic parliamentary elections in the history of independent Azerbaijan, alongside the adoption of the constitution will become a historical event and an achievement of our nation.

Now we are in the last stage of the elections. So far we have done all we could for the establishment of the parliament based on democratic principles. First, we prepared an effective law. Second, we tried to implement the law and we achieved it. As soon as we announced the elections, we addressed to the world community, international organizations, democratic institutions, and head of states that have attained notable achievements in democracy, stating that we consider the parliamentary elections an important stage and event in Azerbaijan and we want to organize the elections based on democratic principles. In order to achieve it and inform the world community about it, we have invited international observers here.

So far 214 observers have visited Azerbaijan. Never had so many observers from different countries, parliaments, and democratic institutions come to Azerbaijan before. We are pleased with it. I have stated several times, in my meetings in New York and with some observers who had visited Azerbaijan: we want observers to come, since we want to hold democratic elections. We want it and try to achieve it. The results of the elections will demonstrate how much we will have achieved. I assume that we could mainly attain it in the previous stages. But those stages were not flawless or faultless. I acknowledge it. But in general, most of them demonstrate the application of democracy. The last stage is elections. We want the elections to be held democratically.

400 candidates were nominated for 100 places in one-mandate constituencies, i.e. 4 candidates for 1 place. Eight parties are taking part in the elections. Each of them has nominated 25 candidates. It means 400 candidates. So, there are 600 candidates for 125 places. As a President I want the elections to be fair and the people to vote freely and elect whoever they want. It does not matter for me which candidates will be elected.

I am the President. The composition of the parliament is of great significance for me. As the head of state and as a person who has contributed to this country, I want the Azerbaijan Republic to pursue democracy in all fields, including political, state-building, economic, and public fields. To attain it, I want our parliament to be democratic, and educated and capable persons to be elected to our parliament. I want persons who can understand our people and solve their problems in the parliament to be elected. I want our parliament to reflect the cultural, educated, and high political level of our people as a mirror. I want it. It does not matter for me who will be elected. I don’t worry about the number of opposition representatives in the parliament. Everyone here, perhaps most Azerbaijani citizens know that I am able to implement my duties and I will.

I have been heading the state for two years and half. We have not had a normal parliament during this period. Everyone says so. How many tragedies we have faced during this period. Yet, we have been governing the state and we still are. We have prepared the constitution of the state. We are on the eve of the parliamentary elections. It does not matter how many opposition and non-opposition representatives will be elected.

Therefore, I want our people to vote for and elect whoever they want. But they should vote for persons for whom the destiny of the nation is above all, who devotes their lives to the nation. Also educated, capable, and professional persons should be elected.

I think our people have not perceived democracy yet. It is natural that our people have not abandoned remains of the past yet. However, as a result of the processes that have been going on up to now, our people think differently now. I guess most of our people have already decided or will soon decide who to vote for. They will vote for whoever they want.

I want to state my opinion on pre-election campaign. First, I think the pre-election campaign was held democratically. The registration of candidates and other issues are known. The cases of the people, who were not registered in constituencies, were considered by the Central Election Commission. The decision of the Central Election Commission satisfied some people, however it did not satisfy others. The latter appealed to the Supreme Court and their cases were investigated there. All principles of justice were observed. I think there were no other claims. Every candidate has opportunities for propaganda. The Central Election Commission made a decision that allowed every candidate to speak on TV; each candidate has got seven minutes for it. So all the candidates spoke on TV. The candidates could hold meetings with voters wherever they wanted and they did. They spoke about what they wanted. No one was limited, prevented, or forbidden to do something. The candidates met their voters wherever they wanted, they said all what they wanted and they put foruard their proposals. It is agreat achievement.

Now about the eight parties. It was decided to grant each party an hour on TV. The parties announced they would use it twice - half an hour each time. A lot determined turns. It was also organized democratically. Speeches of each party were not cut off, nor any from their speeches was excluded. Freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of use of mass media have never been so broad. This condition was created; everyone enjoys it. I appreciate that every candidate and every political party could deliver all citizens and voters what they wanted on TV. Now voters get acquainted with compositions and goals of the parties and see who a candidate is, what his or her thoughts are, what his or her targets are, what ways he or she pursues. Now favorable conditions have been created for voters so they can clarify which candidate or which party to vote for. They have full freedom.

Undoubtedly, I am not going to answer the critics and slanders of the oppositional representatives and parties; I consider it needless. I did not have time to watch speeches of most of the candidates, but I watched speeches of eight parties. I spent eight hours for it. There must be ethical frame and limit. If someone does not observe them, he or she can harm himself of herself. I do not doubt it. If someone speaks feebly, he or she can harm himself ol herself. The public does not and will not accept it. I reiterate that, I am not going to answer any of them. But some opposition parties claimed that the government is incapable and can not control the republic.

So I want to express my opinion regarding some of those views. What do the oppositional parties, which put forth unreasonable accusations against the government, claim? They state the primary task is to stop the war, restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, liberate the occupied lands, and return the refugees to their homes. Let`s be honest, do they say anything new? No, it is a well-known truth. I have been here for two years and half, have been acting as the President for two years. This is my duty for the day to night. I am engaged in this every day. The people are aware of what we have done, especially of what I have done. The people know what way we pursue. Now some claim we have to solve some problems. But the people, who do not know how to solve problems, claim the government to be incapable.

You know, I regret such people. I have learnt every detail of this problem during two years and half. Perhaps the statistics has recorded that I have had hundreds of meetings. I devoted my meetings with heads of supwerpowers to this issue. I had meetings at international organizations, participated at their meetings. We have contacted with all international organizations, including the UN, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, ECO within two years and half. I have been personally engaged in this problem. I met and negotiated with the heads of five permanent member-states of the UN Security Council - the USA, Russia, France, the UK, and China. We discussed and sought for settlement. This is not all though.

I have met with so many heads of states. A number of delegations have been accepted in this meeting hall. The composition of the Minsk Group has been changed three times during this time: when I came first time, it was Mario Raffaelli from Italy, later there was Jan Eliasson from Sweden, at last, representatives of Finland and Russia. This problem was first included in the agenda of the OSCE summit. Last year a decision on this problem was adopted in Budapest. It was an important decision.

We can talk about what we have done for hours. What is the solution? They claim they know the way of settlement and state it. But they have not been disclosing it for seven years. I know the way of settlement; I pursue this way. We need to solve the problem peacefully and we pursue the peaceful way. We have achievements. We have already proved the world community that our claims are just. We have also a lot of supporters for solution of the problem.

The fire has been stopped for a year and half. I have been working here for two years and half. The people have been living in the cease-fire regime for a year and half. The war lasted for seven years. And what did those people achieve? Some claim that cease-fire means capitulation. How can they claim it? How can it be capitulation? What did those people gain in the seven-year war? I ask the people who claim it. 20 per cent of our territories was occupied, one million people became refugees, we had many losses. These are the results of the seven-year war. If we had, at least, maintained our lands during the war, I would have continued it.

But it was not so easy to attain the cease-fire. Why was the cease-fire not achieved before? Because Azerbaijan was not strong. But after the Azerbaijani Army was established in November 1993, and it started its attacks demonstrating its strength. Eventually we started negotiations and ensured the cease-fire. Now some state we need peace and an army, we need to prepare for war. But why did the people who state we need an army not create it before? Where was the army? Did any army exist?

Nowadays our ministers and law enforcement bodies spoke about the situation. What was the situation in Azerbaijan? What is our situation now? There was no army in Azerbaijan. The army consisted of thieves, bandits, criminals, traitors, and people who betrayed Azerbaijani lands for their interests. They all were exposed. The oppositionists cooperated with them and were very close to them. They generated disaster in Azerbaijan.

Thus, I consider there is no need to prove this issue. The government and president of Azerbaijan know the ways of solution of the main problems in Azerbaijan. We conduct the peace negotiations and we will do further. There are achievements and progress in our negotiations. I think we will pursue this way.

During my five-day stay in New York I participated at meetings of the UN and had other meetings. Yesterday they counted that I had had 72 meetings. I met heads of superpowers. My meeting with the US president was mostly dedicated to this topic. It was my second meeting with him. I met him last year and this year. When did Azerbaijan have such an opportunity? When did an Azerbaijani president have an opportunity to meet and talk to a head of state equally? It is not all. I have met and spoken to heads of Russia, the USA, France, the UK, Germany, and China. We know the way of settlement. Now some claim it is the main problem, we need to resolve it. If you could have solved it, you should have done it. If you could not settle the problem, don`t prevent us.

We have the army. Safar Abiyev reported about it on TV yesterday. I think I don`t need to speak about it much. There was no real army in Azerbaijan. Four years ago an order on the establishment of the National Army was issued, but it was not implemented. Various units, divisions, and batallions used weapons of the army for their own interests. This ultimately led to the June events in 1993, a civil war, and other incidents afterwards. We had a lot of troubles to cleanse Azerbaijan from those elements, including criminals. The people understand it. The opposition does not see it or pretend not seeing. Shortly, Azerbaijan has an army, which is going to be very strong.

Today I declare that we don`t want to restart the war. Our army is being established in order to strengthen the defensive ability of Azerbaijan, enable to defend Azerbaijan as an independent state. We don`t want to restart the war. We want to solve the problem peacefully and I think, we will. The future will show it. If we can`t do it, you should settle then. You are welcome. But we will solve it.

As for the second problem, they claim we need stability in the republic. I don`t understand. Did Azerbaijan have such a stability that it has now, in post-1988 years. It did not. I don`t claim everything is perfect today. I have never said and I will never say that our law enforcement bodies function normally, that we have set up everything perfectly. No. The Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of National Security, the General Prosecutor informed about the criminal gangs and groups which had emerged within last two years. They destroy Azerbaijan. It was imposible only now to unveil them. People live comfortably and walk in streets freely. Isn`t it stability? Of course, stability has no limits. The situation must be more stable. I want our people not to lock doors of their houses, others not to rob those houses, no one to touch other person. We need it. We should attain it and pursue this way. But let`s compare our situation a few years ago and the current state.

I think our biggest achievement during this time was abolition of impunity and punishment of people who committed crimes. I regret that a lot of people are being punished. I don`t want us to have a lot of people imprisoned. I pardoned 600 deserters. As a result of the coup attempt last October some people got killed, some people were arrested, - according to the General Prosecutor, up to 200 people were detained, 260 people were imprisoned and the rest are wanted. Who is responsable for this? Since its establishment, the Special Police Detachment has been a criminal group and committed a lot of crimes during the previous government; the Javadov brothers reigned in the country. People feared them, some even adulated them. Rovshan Javadov was the Deputy Minister of the Interior, but he was not subordinated to the Minister of the Interior. Our opposition leaders used to meet and negotiate with Rovshan Javadov. The crimes committed by Mahir Javadov were unlimited. He worked as a district attorney from 1988 through 1992 and received bribes.

I`ll switch to this topic. Most speakers say there is bribery. Yes, there is. But what steps did the oppositionists take while they were in the government and when they are in opposition in order to fight bribery? Nothing. Conversely, Mahir and Rovhsan Javadovs kept in touch with the oppositionists, met and talked to them. If the opposition forces really defended our statehood, why did any of the political parties not declare any statement during the October events? There was a coup d`etat attempt. That gang launched a civil war in June 1993 and tried to restart it, however, we could prevent it with the power of people. None of political parties interfered. But what did you want? You wanted them to come and destroy here? Do you think they will let you free?

Let`s recall the March events. It was obvious and a lot of TV and radio channels of the world informed that there was a coup against the president of Azerbaijan, they would destroy Azerbaijan, and a coalition state would be established in Azerbaijan. Did any opposition party issue a statement? Some offered Rasul Guliyev their mediation. But with whom? With a criminal? Should I have negotiated with a criminal who wanted to destroy the state through an intermediary? Those times passed. The people trusted me and elected me President. The President is the guarantor of the statehood of the Azerbaijan Republic. The Turkish ambassador and an opposition party offered their mediation. What would they mediate? Should I have granted Rovshan Javadov a position so he would commit more crimes and destroy the country? Mahir Javadov founded a trade union of entrepreneur and destroyed the country. Should he have destroyed more? Did they want to mediate it?

Therefore, people should be just. Since June 1993 we have saved Azerbaijan from disasters, saved our people from those criminals, maintained our statehood, and raised the recognition of our country worldwide. People must see these. If some don’t want to see, there is no problem. Slander and lie are not good. Why did the oppositionists not challenge Suret Huseynov in 1993? What did they invite me from Nakhchivan for? For what? If you had power, you should have faced Suret Huseynov. You could not. He made you flee and get scattered; most people who are leaders and representatives of the opposition parties went to Ganja and proved their loyalty to Suret Huseynov. It was shown on TV, it is known. There are relevant documents. They wanted to cooperate with him.

You could not maintain your power. The civil war broke out. Alikram Humbatov destroyed part of Azerbaijan. I combated him alone. Suret Huseynov encouraged him on the one hand, Rehim Gaziyev went to that region frequently on the other. Where were the opposition parties back then? Why did they not do anything? Some motivated him to press on Heydar Aliyev. They did it in order to attain their goals.

Thus, I consider we need to expand anti-criminal combat, liquidate criminals, and punish terrorists, criminals, and those who violate rights of citizens. But it is necessary to appreciate the work which is being done, not smear it.

Nowadays big crimes have been uncovered. Moreover, all people who planned to shoot the plane with a rocket were arrested and most of the people who tried to organize it were detained. The people who committed a terror act five years ago were arrested. Some more criminals were also detained. I guess more criminals will be exposed further. It demonstrates that law enforcement bodies have recently strengthened their performance. Noting their flaws once again, I also appreciate the activity of law enforcement bodies during the last months; I think they have saved not only the state, but also citizens from big crimes and have done a lot.

Some party leaders and representatives touch economic problems in their speeches. They claim the economy has fallen down, the economic state is tough, and so on. They don’t say anything new. Azerbaijan is in a socio-economic crisis. It is obvious. Ways of settlement of socio-economic crisis are being sought and measures are being taken. But do oppositional parties have any program on this? Which of them has a concrete proposal. None. I did not hear anything new from those speeches. A young person who does not know what production is declares about production decline. I am sure that the opposition representatives who speak about production and economy have no idea what production and economy are. So they can not put forth any suggestions based on books they have read. You can research if any of them has any experience in this sphere. None. Such inexperienced people can develop neither economy nor production. The problem is that some young people who have not done anything other than shouting in squares try to teach us production.

Please understand me. I started my leadership in Azerbaijan 26 years ago. I am familiar with all production funds in Azerbaijan. Most of plants and factories were built during my leadership in Azerbaijan. While I worked in Azerbaijan and later in Moscow for five years I always supervised Azerbaijan. I know what production is established for. I am also aware of how to put production to use.

Back then the annual growth of industrial production accounted averag 9 persent. Do you, the opposition, know where this 9 persent is generated and collected from? You don’t. You learn about the 20 persent decline from statistics. It is right. But you don’t know how growth is generated.

Agricultural production was growing at 7-8 persent back then. The speed of growth in production in Azerbaijan was higher than that in other 15 republics within the Soviet Union. It is known by statistics. The person who supervised, organized, and constructed this infrastructure, is the head of Azerbaijan now. How come he doesn’t try to generate them? People who have never passed by plants other than calling workers to strike or meeting intend to teach us production now.

People should be modest and know what they talk about. No one believes them any more. Because their speeches are so unskilled that no one believes them. I say it to you openly.

We know how to develop production and we are engaged in it. I mean production can not develop now as in the past. The plants and factories built back then can not operate effectively now. Those plants and factories were constructed by my initiative and I supervised their operation daily; now I say they can not operate as effectively as they did before. But we need to generate their operation. We know how to do it and we are engaged in it.

It is true that some ministries, companies, officials do not use opportunities and potential of production. There are mistakes. I made a long speech on this problem at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers in May. I proposed each of heads of companies, factories, and plants to set a working program and I demanded them to do it. Some of them can do it, some can not. The processes occurring in the post-Soviet area also affect this. Because integrated relations are broken. We are going through transition period. At the same time, notable achievements have been attained in our economy and financial system. The value of manat has been stable for a year. We can give various explanations for it. But the main thing is that it is stable. The rate of inflation has completely dropped. If international financial centers, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Bank, and the European Union cooperate with Azerbaijan, it means they accepted the process of economic liberalization and free market economy in Azerbaijan; they help us, give credits to us.

Nearly 84 million USD was allocated for securing water supply to Baku. 54 million or 57 million USD was granted as credit for construction of Yenikend Hydroelectric power station. The oil mp was given a credit of 20 million USD for some restoration works. Credits were allocated for some other projects. 400 million USD was granted to Azerbaijan for financial rehabilitation and other works. These are the results of our work in economic field.

Does it satisfy us? No. Can we live like this? No. We have refugees and even beggars. When I headed the country in the 70s, no beggar could be found in Baku. Bread used to cost 20 kopecks, meat - 2.20 manat, butter - 3.20 manat. I checked stores and interview butchers why they sold third-class meat as first-class? The difference was only 20-30 kopecks. That was the situation.

We lived and worked at that time. But we passed to a different system. We have to pursue this way in order to transit to market economy; we have done our best and still do. Having taken into consideration the development of democracy, economic democratization, inner political stability in Azerbaijan, the world`s largest oil companies signed an important contract with Azerbaijan last September. It could not happen till last Septemberm because there were no favorable conditions for it. This morning we signed a new contract. A new company, a new consortium, the “Karabakh” oilfield. Three countries - Russia, the USA, and Italy joined us and signed a notable contract with the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan. Representatives of the Italian company Agip have come to Azerbaijan. So have the Minister of Fuel and Energy of Russia, the Deputy Secretary of Energy,of the US the Minister of Industry of Italy, heads of companies, and other people. So the new contract was signed in Azerbaijan. These all are results of the favorable situation in Azerbaijan. It also gained a worldwide recognition for Azerbaijan. Investments flow into Azerbaijan thanks to local stability here.

According to the contract signed last year, 100 million USD will be invested in Azerbaijan this year, 600 million USD - next year. This amount will create jobs in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani experts and workers will work and make money; it will benefit Azerbaijan. But it is only a beginning of our projects. They will continue. Show me if there is an alternative way. There is none. You can not show any other way.

Now everyone has a right to speak freely and can do it. From now on there will be opportunity for it. But it is necessary to speak thoroughly and direct people correctly. Incorrect ideas, wrong speeches, and slander have never earned our political parties any respect and will not do either.

It is everyone`s business to vote for a party or a candidate he or she wants. Some people use dirty ways to achieve their own targets. I am not going to tell about it concretely. But claims on tribalism, nepotism, or bribery have no ground. Most speakers speak about bribery in Azerbaijan. Don`t we also speak about it? We fight bribery while you only speak about it.

There is no greater enemy for the nation than bribe-takers. We need to conduct this combat together. Unfortunately, people who speak about bribery are either bribers themselves or benefit from bribery. I state it confidently.

Nothing can be achieved by speaking only. Bribery is a gross epidemy not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the entire world. It is a big evil like narcomania. We have to fight this evil. But we can not deceive the people by accusing one another of bribery. If you check the financial state and resources of some opposition parties, they will lead to bribe-takers. Because finances do not descent from the sky. Their financial resources may be originated from bribery.

So people should have a moral right to speak on this issue. I do have a moral right because I call to fight bribery. But other people don`t have such a right. Some people, who are engaged in bribery but accuse others, should think about it.

I have a great responsibility. Unlike others I do not hold this office in order to be in power. Now a lot of people claim to be president or my successor. Heydar Aliyev is still alive. Now they struggle on who will become president after Heydar Aliyev.

It is not worth doing it. After Heydar Aliyev passes away or after his term is over, the people will elect whoever they want to. You should know it. But I did not come to power by my own will or by struggling against someone. I did not intend it. But since the destiny and people`s will brought me here and I took over such a great responsibility, I am going to carry it and spend my efforts for it till the last minute of my life. Nobody can prevent me. Whoever really wants to help development of our state, must help. I will accept any help. But whoever has other claims while I am here, will never attain them.

I follow the law, which is supreme for me. I have never done anything illegal or unjust. I am responsible for everything I have done so far. I have had some mistakes in selecting and appointing people. I have mistakes at present, too, which is natural. During my 2.5 year activity many people have been appointed and dismissed. Because of circumstances we appointed Suret Huseynov Prime Minister. But he did not deserve it. I tried to direct him, make him responsible. However, he did not give up his criminality. We appointed Neriman Imanov Minister of National Security. He betrayed and now must respond in court. We appointed Ali Omarov General Prosecutor but he failed us. Now he begs for pardon. What should I forgive? Would there be a better trust when you were appointed General Prosecutor? He failed and even abused his position.

It is not all. He went to Turkey, where he stayed at luxury Chiragan hotel. How could he afford it? Salary of the General Prosecutor is known. I went to New York twice. Though I am the head of state and use state funds for my trips, I stayed at inexpensive hotel there in order not to waste much money. But he lived at Chiragan hotel for a month, claiming he had a medical treatment. Didn`t he think what his future would be? Didn`t he think he would be asked how he could afford it? Now he regrets.

We appointed Mammadrafi Mammadov Minister of Defense. He failed us, so he was dismissed. Under some circumstances Abdullayev was appointed Minister of Agriculture, but he committed a crime, so he must respond in court. Former Deputy Prime Minister Asker Mammadov never spoke or maintained a principal position at my meetings dedicated to the Lankaran events. Would I have held him in the post of Deputy Prime Minister? I sacked him. Ali Tahmazov adulated Suret Huseynov. I told him he was a good architect and he should work instead of adulation. We dismissed him, too. I can count many people.

Is it our mistake? No, it is a common process. People who are appointed will not be forgiven, if they fail or betray us.

Now they talk about personnel policy. Actually, it was a policy of the communist regime. It remained in the past. People who claim to be democrats and build a new state, talk about personnel policy. What kind of personnel policy can be in such a secular and legal state? It was a policy of the Communist Party. Now people who are capable and valuable are appointed regardless of who they are. It is included in authority of the president to appoint people. I use my authority. I have not done anything illegal and I will never do. The only illegal thing I have done may be that I instructed Fatma Abdullazade to admit Nemat Penahov to the State University without any exam. It was illegal, but I don`t regret. I wanted him to get educated and become more valuable for society. It would be good for me that he received education as a result of my illegal decision.

We must observe laws. I do observe them, so must everyone.

It is voters` business to vote for some party or candidate. Some speakers mentioned the New Azerbaijan Party. Yes, the New Azerbaijan Party was founded by me personality. Back then Nakhchivan was in blockaded. A number bright intellectuals of Azerbaijan visited Nakhchivan with no fear. I accepted their proposals and we established the New Azerbaijan Party in 1992. It is a valuable party. I consider it an important party for Azerbaijan. A lot of intellectuals with strong ideas have gathered in this party and will gather further. But what party people will vote for is their business.

I think our elections will be held democratically. I instructed our executive powers and I state it again: local authorities and law enforcement bodies must not interfere with the elections. The elections are conducted by the Central Election Commision, constituency election commisions, and precinct election commisions. But local authorities and law enforcement bodies must help election commissions, secure the process, public safety, and security of citizens. They must prevent crimes and any potential criminal cases.

Today I call all our citizens to solidarity. I consider that our new constitution will be adopted by referendum. Our new elections establish a favorable ground for strengthening democracy and developing the Azerbaijani statehood. It is our achievement. We should try to enter the 12th of November as a significant day and holiday to the history of Azerbaijan. I am sure of it and I hope our citizens will do so.

This is what I want to say. I thank the members of the commission and working group. I address to our people to express their positions on democracy, justice, and rule of law. The protection of the statehood, territorial integrity, and independence of Azerbaijan is our main duty. The constitution and the elections are a new stage in securing independence of Azerbaijan and we will pursue our way successfully.

This is what I want to say. Is there a need for more discussions? There is not. Thank you.

“Azerbaycan” (newspaper), November 11, 1995