Interview of Heydar Aliyev with the journalists at Bina Airport before leaving for the United States of America for a business trip - April 1, 2001

Perhaps you are interested in the reason of my visit to Florida, the United States of America. And at the same time, I know that you are aware of it. First of all, the information on my visit has spread in the whole world before we have disseminated it. Therefore, there is no need for additional information here.

This meeting, I think, is very important. It differs from the previous meetings by such a fact that the expected meeting is held on the initiative of the USA, with the participation of all the co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group, that is, co-chairpersons from the USA, Russia and France. It will be attended by the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and some experts. The meeting will continue for several days in order to have detailed and comprehensive discussions. The presidents will meet the co-chairpersons and then tete-a-tete. Everything will be clarified there, one can not say anything in advance. This is the approximate program. This is the goal of my visit. It is a long distance. But I have told you repeatedly, I shall go anywhere if it is necessary, if they say that the meeting will be held in Antarctica I shall go there, too.

Question: Mr. President, before this meeting you had talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indeed, you have discussed the Daghlig Garabaghh problem. Is there any change in the position of Russia in comparison with the previous years?

Reply: We have discussed the Daghlig Garabagh problem, that is true, I have informed on it. I confirm it. But I can not say what changes there will be, you know, I can not say anything about it. In any case, we have fruitful negotiations on the solution of the Daghlig Garabagh problem during my visit to Moscow and during the visit of President Putin to Azerbaijan.

Question: Mr. President, after the negotiations in Key West your next meeting will be in Moscow. Is it true?

Reply: Ihave no information on it.

Question: Mr. President, the Russian periodicals write that the variant of "the Republic of Conch" in Florida may also be proposed. That is, the inhabitants of Key West have been considering themselves both the citizens of "the Republic of Conch" and of the United States of America. Will this variant be discussed?

Reply: You know, there are many identical variants in the world. If you remember that when Sweden was presiding in OSCE, we were invited to visit the Aland Islands. Even I sent our delegation there to get acquainted with the situation. Each locality, each place has its own peculiarities. Therefore, we try to learn all the existing experience in the world, make use of it. There may be lots of proposals. It is not the main thing. The main thing is how we approach it.

Question: Mr. President, speaking in general, do all the three co-chairpersons share the same approach? Are they unanimous in their views, or vary in positions?

Reply: It seems to me that they are unanimous in their positions.

Question: Mr. President, relying on the State Department of the United States of America such an information has been disseminated that the variant of participation of the administration of the Daghlig Garabagh in the negotiations may also be discussed. We contacted some people from the Republican Party yesterday. They said that if this issue is seriously included into the agenda of negotiations, then the participation of the administration of the Azerbaijani community of the Daghlig Garabagh in the negotiations will also be demanded. What is your opinion about it, is it possible?

Reply: First of all, I am not aware of it. There are many rumors there, therefore, I do not want to comment each of them, in the past negotiations, in negotiations between us, that is, the presidents, we had not such cases, but when such demands sounded on the level of experts, the representative of the Azerbaijani community of the Daghlig Garabagh Nizami Bahmanov had always been in the negotiations. Now I am not taking Nizami Bahmanov with me to Key West, because I do not want to create opportunities in advance that I have brought the representative of the Azerbaijani community, you also bring that of the Armenian community. But I think that their participation in the negotiations in Key West is impossible.

Question: Mr. President, the co-chairpersons have recently declared that the participants in the negotiations have never been so close to peace. What do you think, are there grounds for such optimistic statements?

Reply: Yes, there are.

Question: When the Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem had negotiations in the United States he also discussed the problem of the Daghlig Garabagh. Was the visit of Ismail Cem to the United States connected with your present visit to the United States? May his negotiations in the United States seriously affect the problem?

Reply: You know, it is quite natural. Because, first of all, Turkey has always shared our position in the problem of the Daghlig Garabagh. And not only shared our position, Turkey has always made efforts for the solution of the conflict as a member of the Minsk Group. You know, some years ago Turkey declared that it will not establish any relations with Armenia, if it does not withdraw its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. It is the permanent position of Turkey. I think, you have heard, when I was in Turkey and in the meetings which I had, and particularly when I spoke in the Turkish Parliament, I emphasized this point very seriously. Because, after the recognition of the so-called "genocide of Armenians" recently by some countries, especially by France, as if Turkey has committed "a genocide" against the Armenians, I saw that some circles in Turkey are hesitating in their positions and thinking of possible softening of relations with Armenia. Therefore, I disclosed our position in my meetings with the state and government officials of Turkey and in the Turkish Parliament.

And it is natural that all the above said have found their reflections in the Washington meetings of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. It is like this all the time. That is, in all the meetings up to now Turkey has been focusing attention on the solution of the Armenian - Azerbaijani conflict as a basic issue. When I was in Turkey, I knew that Ismail Cem will pay a visit to the United States, I had a separate meeting and talks with him. It is not his own position; it is the position of Turkey, position of the Turkish government.

Question: Mr. President, Turkmenistan is going to sign a contract on oil development in the deposit of "Kapaz" and has already appealed to several foreign oil companies. What is your opinion about it?

Reply: Such things may be a lot. It has been going on for several years.

Question: Mr. President, Georgia, let us say, opened its airport in Marneuli for the Turkish military planes. The Turkish military planes may land there, be repaired and do other identical things.

Reply: Let them do. You try to know much. But you must also know that one can not disclose each step of the policy of the state to you everyday. We must also take into consideration that you and your colleagues add a mountain to a trifle you have heard, and you want to thrust your own views on the people. You know me, you can not get answers to such questions from me. You stop some of our inexperienced people on the spot and they speak about the things they do not know. But be a little careful with me.

Question: What is the relation of Azerbaijan to NATO at present?

Reply: As it was before. You know, it is also very serious. It is not so easy to join NATO. For instance, when Robertson was here, we had talks with him. There was a rumor that Georgia will join NATO in 2005. When I mentioned it, Robertson said perhaps President Shevarnadze meant that Georgia will only knock at the door of NATO in 2005.

Question: Mr. President, the Energy Minister of Iran Habibullah Bitaraf was on a visit in Azerbaijan. You gave him a severe reply when he mentioned Iran`s intention to build a water dam in Khudafarin. Will Azerbaijan cooperate with Iran in the construction of water dams in future?

Reply: How could I answer otherwise? Khudafarin is an old issue. You know, there were negotiations on it before the occupation of our territory. In 1994, when I paid a visit to Teheran, we had extensive talks on it. We stated that no dam should be built there till the liberation of our territory. Therefore, I confirmed my opinion once more. I suppose they will not mention any more.

Question: Mr. President, the Armenian President had said that they will consider the proposals of political parties and the public in order to determine what compromises Armenia can accept and what compromises can not. What about you? Have you the proposals of the Azerbaijani public with you?

Reply: You know, I don`t have the proposals of the Azerbaijani public with me, because there are no proposals unknown to me. I know all of them. Some people do not know all about them up to now. And now when something comes to their minds, they think as if they have discovered a new America. I know the essence of all the proposals. I am aware of the mood of the Azerbaijani people, Azerbaijani citizens. I shall take into consideration all of them.

Question: Are you expecting any qualitative changes in the negotiations in Key West?

Reply: You know, we had many such meetings. We always go to such meetings with good hopes, but return back with quite a different mood. Now, what will be gained there, I do not know. In any case, we go there with good hopes.

Question: Mr. President, you said that you are aware of the mood of the Azerbaijani public. In your meeting with Abdulkhalig Chay you said that you believe that the peace negotiations have not yet exhausted. But the mood of the nation evidences that if the peace negotiations fail, the territories will be liberated by means of war, the population is for this kind of solution of the conflict. Will you deliver this concrete position there?

Reply: Yes, I have said it here, and indeed, I shall do it there, too.

Question: Mr. President, there is such a paragraph in the treaty signed between Armenia and Russia that if one of these parties is drawn to war, the other party will help it. What does it mean? Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs also made severe statements. Will Russia join the war if Armenia and Azerbaijan renew the military operations?

Reply: You well know what it means. There is no need for explanation. But one can not say now what there will be concretely in future.

Question: Mr. President, there is information there that you will have your health condition examined there. What can you say in connection with it?

Reply: Why are you so much interested in my health?

Reporter: Last time you said why we do not ask about your health.

Heydar Aliyev: First of all, I am in good health, do not worry. Let those, who think that my health is not satisfactory, know that the God has always been my protector, saved me of all evil, endowed me with good health and will do it in future, too.

I remember, in 1990, when I returned from Moscow to Nakhchivan as if I threw myself into an ocean, I did not consult any physician. Once I had an infraction, I was under the constant control of physicians. So I threw myself into the ocean and thought if I can, I shall survive, if not, then there is no remedy there. I am a man of such a nature. When I was in Nakhchivan for two years, my health improved, though the life conditions were not so desirable. I think I told you last time to consult physicians each six months. It particularly refers to women. If I have time, I would like to be examined for two-three hours by the surgeons who have treated me. It is quite natural. There is no need to make a problem of it, to disseminate all kinds of tales. I want all of you, the Azerbaijani public, the whole nation know that I have taken the burden of negotiations, making efforts, suffering only to liberate Azerbaijan from the occupation of Armenia, to liberate our lands. Therefore, there may be different variants at different times. Many variants may be used, experimented, in general, this is the feature of diplomacy in history. If a man has got something in his mind and goes to implement it into life, he may gain success, or fail, that is natural.

You know my experience, there are things I do not know, though I have a long life experience, but how do you know all the things? That is your own business, some people, who have never occupied any official post, engaged in the affairs of the government, think that they know more than me. I have experience, and I have seen the world. It is impossible that I have not met a leader of a country, and simply greeted each other or has serious talks. It is not that you go to a tea house for a tea and chat. I use all the opportunities, meet people as much as it is possible, go to countries where it is necessary, I shall do it in future, too.

But you must know, I said it at the session of the Parliament, too, I can not agree with anything, which harms the interests of Azerbaijan. This is the first. Secondly, last time when I was leaving for Paris you began to tell all kinds of absurdity, particularly the ANS TV channel, which is an opposition channel. Each day they invite somebody to the program "Views and Opinions", which themselves do not know what it is, and start to shout at full throat about dishonest, or shameful peace, or other things I do not know even how to call them... They do not know anything, but come and deceive you. And you begin to shower me with all kinds of questions, comment and expand your own views.

To come to any agreement in the process of negotiations is the first stage. Then the parties begin to speak of peace, it is a great complex. Only after the solution of this complex of issues, after gaining peace in the negotiations, a peace treaty may be signed. Now trying to confuse people, a group of simpletons here begin to make noise that Heydar Aliyev has gone to sign a shameful, disgraceful peace treaty as I get on the plane. If even I want to sign a peace treaty, it is impossible. A peace treaty is not a thing to go and buy from the shop and then put it into your pocket. It is a long process. It is necessary to pass several stages in order to solve a conflict ongoing for 12 years. In the first stage some agreement is achieved. If it is gained, or if it is possible, then other stages will follow, the experts begin to work, etc. Only then the treaty is possible. And the treaty will not be signed by Heydar Aliyev. If we achieve peace, then the treaty will be signed by the co-chairpersons of the Minsk Group, the big world states and the United Nations Organization. It is not just I went to Paris and signed a treaty in the street and returned back. And you began to spread information that Heydar Aliyev signed a disgraceful peace treaty. Do not worry.

Question: Mr. President, in connection with Section 907 it is said that its repeal can function as a means of pressure on Armenia. Will you seriously raise this issue in the negotiations?

Reply: Surely, surely. Thank you.