Speech of the Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev at the official reception in his honor hosted by the President of Kazakhstan - June 10, 1997

Mr. President Nursultan Nazarbayev!

Dear friends! Ladies and gentlemen!

Today is a remarkable event for the Azerbaijani delegation. The first official visit of the Azerbaijani President and delegation has started. I would like to express my gratitude to President Nursultan Nazarbayev for the invitation and the hospitality since the moment we arrived in Kazakhstan. We have been together for a few hours; we have already discussed a number of issues, exchanged views. We have signed several important documents, which will encourage developing and deepening friendly relations between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

We are very grateful and extremely happy to have a chance to do a lot of work in a friendly atmosphere in Kazakhstan. Of course, all these have their historical roots, which we share and appreciate. They are the basis of the Kazakh-Azerbaijani mutual relations, which have been existing for many years. History for both Kazakhs and Azerbaijanis has been troublesome. Despite difficulties, our peoples have always supported each other, felt and understood that they share the same roots. Many generations of the Kazakhs and Azerbaijanis have maintained mutual relations based on our rich and ancient culture, which is a part of the Oriental and Turkic civilization.

We can be proud of our outstanding persons, who are our treasure. Prominent representatives of our peoples, with their works in literature, art, science, have enriched the human civilization. Therefore, it is quite natural that we celebrate together the well-known persons, whom we consider our common values. In 1995, the international community celebrated the 150th anniversary of the great Kazakh thinker, writer, poet, scholar, philosopher Abay Kunanbayev.

I received President Nazarbayev`s invitation. We could have simply dispatched some cultural, intellectual figures from Azerbaijan, but Abay is our common value. Thus, I visited Almaty, Kazakhstan and took part in celebrations with a great pleasure. I witnessed both the Kazakh people and the guests celebrate this anniversary at a high level.

The same happened last year, when we celebrated the 500th anniversary of Muhammad Fizuli belonging to all the Turkic peoples. We celebrated the anniversary in Baku together with the delegations of all Turkic nations, including Kazakhstan.

However, these are not the celebrations of culture and literature only. They prove our devotion to our roots, traditions, common culture which unite us.

Completely new relations on this basis are now being established between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. President Nazarbayev\'s first official visit to Azerbaijan in September 1996 was a remarkable event in these relations. We did a lot of work then.

That visit laid the foundation of new relations between the independent Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. The documents signed then encouraged the development of these relations, reflected also in the documents we signed here in Almaty.

Our peoples achieved independence and sovereignty through a lot of difficulties. I will not speak of the past, but recall some episodes.

December, 1986, the period of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party. We all serves faithfully the country and the party.  It was time to change the administration in Kazakhstan. They decide to appoint a person, who was not Kazakh and never was and worked here. I mean Kolbin.  Then I was a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Thus, I was involved in that process. That decision was quite surprising. For example, my approach towards such decisions was sensitive, as I thought that regardless of ethnicity, we all were equal in the Soviet Union. However, since I was an Azerbaijani and a Muslim, I perceived the injustice towards the Muslim peoples more sensitively.

Then it was explained that there was not a worthy person in Kazakhstan, therefore they needed to send there Kolbin. I talked Mikhail Gorbachev about it after the discussions. I even asked the reason of their decision. He said: the Kazakhs claim that they do not have any worthy person for that position. Dinmukhammad Konayev himself said that a candidate of Russian origin should be appointed to Kazakhstan as they lack a reasonable person in the current situation.

Of course, that was not true. I could not accept that. But I was surprised when Gorbachev told me and stated at Politburo that the Kazakhs, including Dinmukhammad Konayev recommend to appoint a Russian to Kazakhstan. He even mentioned that they expect Kruchina, who worked in Tselinograd.

But when it was time to solve the problem, the Kazakh people, especially youth and students protested.

Then the riots called “Alma-Ata events” took place in December 1986. Moscow sent a commission headed by one person, who had already worked in Kazakhstan. His name was Solomentsev. When he returned to Moscow he reported about nationalism in Kazakhstan.

I can talk about it more. I simply don`t want to waste your time now. But I spoke of those events to recall how the Kazakh people demonstrated their national dignity. Although protesters were punished and the decision on nationalism in Kazakhstan was adopted, the Kazakh people showed their dignity and opposed the decision. The subsequent events confirmed that the decision was unreasonable and misguided, also totally contrary to our principles.

Then, Nursultan Nazarbayev was the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and enjoyed a great reputation both in Kazakhstan and Moscow. Everyone questioned the appointment of someone, who was alien to Kazakhstan, whilst Nursultan Nazarbayev was already working there.

I greatly respect the brave Kazakh youth, who opposed the unfair decision of the Soviet leadership, demonstrated heroism. Although those events were condemned then, history absolved the Kazakh protesters, who showed the dignity of their people. In 1989, Moscow had to apoooint Nursultan Nazarbayev to lead Kazakhstan.

Here at this reception I recall those events to show that our peoples made a hard way for independence. There were losses and victims, bloodshed. Punitive measures were carried out against persons, who demonstrated their national dignity.

A tragedy occurred also in Azerbaijan in January 1990. The people protested against the unjust decisions of the Communist regime. They did not want anything else. In response, the Communist regime decided to suppress the protests by a large contingent of Soviet troops with tanks and armored vehicles; it led to bloodshed in Baku. Then an Alley of Martyrs appeared in the center of Baku. This Alley has become a holy spot for us and the visitors.

Our peoples achieved independence through lots of difficulties. That`s why, independence is a historic achievement for both the Kazakh and Azerbaijani peoples. As a person, who has been to Kazakhstan many times, I follow the processes in this country with a great interest.

An independent nation, Kazakhstan is led by the great leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. Our countries face many problems, which are being solved. Personally, I am confident that they will be resolved, and our efforts will lead to better conditions.

Azerbaijan faces lots of problems, the most important is the aggression of Armenia, which has resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory and the birth of one million refugees. Of course, serious problems emerge in this connection. But there is a ceasefire over past three years. Having achieved the ceasefire, we are now trying to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh peacefully. And we will find the solution. We have always been feeling the support of the friendly Kazakh people, as well as that of Nursultan Nazarbayev regarding this issue. Mr. Nazarbayev took an active part in the peaceful resolution of this issue in 1991. He still holds an active position every time when this matter is discussed in the international organizations, conisders that the conflicts in the CIS area, including the Nagorno-Karabakh problem should be solved by peaceful means.

I am thankful to Kazakhstan and President Nazarbayev for this fair position and friendly support. I believe that justice will triumph, we shall regulate this issue and restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

As Mr. Nazarbayev noted here, I also consider that all the countries must observe the principles of the UN, the Helsinki Act, OSCE on the territorial integrity, inadmissibility of separatism as a threat for the whole worl community. In my opinion, our fair positions are important not only for Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, but also for peace and stability in the entire world.

Dear friends! Dear Mr. Nazarbayev! Let me thank you for your invitation and hospitality. I assure you that Azerbaijan will always observe the agreements we signed. We shall adhere to our friendship and cooperation and do our best to implement our committments.

To the independent, sovereign Kazakhstan! To the Kazakh people! To the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev! Cheers!

Thank you.