From the talk of the President of the Azerbaijani Republic Heydar Aliyev with the representatives of international organizations - 8 January, 2001

Heydar Aliyev: Distinguished guests, I know that you have worked very hard. You worked both yesterday and overnight. I do not know whether you had time to have some rest, but I know anyway that you worked very hard. I do not know whether you could have a rest.

We talked thoroughly at our last meeting and agreed to meet once more upon the completion of the elections.

Paula Kokkonen (the head of supervisory mission of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, member of Finnish parliament, special representative of the OCSE Chairman-in-Office): Thank You, Mr. President. I appreciate You on behalf of all the delegations since despite the intensive work schedule and preparation connected with a visit of highly important guests, You have found time and received us. I am pleased that in comparison with our meeting which took place after the November 5 elections, we have come to today’s meeting with better mood. We mentioned at our last meeting that we were aware of the great work done by You. We have come to a common opinion that the measures undertaken by You and the work accomplished yielded a positive result yesterday. Despite definite shortcomings, yesterday’s atmosphere and spirits, essentially differed from those of November’s. We might say that the observers were met warmly and friendly at all the polling stations. In other words, the superior instructions and commissions given by You were accurately brought to the notice of local executors.

Now, I would like to give the floor to my colleagues to have them share their opinions and thoughts about the elections.

Andreas Gross (the Special Committee chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on observation over elections, member of the Swiss Parliament): Thank You very much, Mr. President. We appreciate You for the opportunity to inform You about our opinion, thoughts and conclusion we came not at the press-conference, but directly. I want to especially underline three points.

First of all, if the display of good will by the President and holding re-elections in 11 districts is the evidence of good will of authority, yesterday’s elections proved that it is possible to hold appropriate elections in Azerbaijan.

I especially emphasize the will of President to hold re-elections and his involvement in this matter because it has become an extremely important step towards strengthening the trust and believe in Azerbaijan’s state institutions.

Secondly, based on my personal observations, I made up a conclusion once again that all my efforts shown in the field of affiliation of Azerbaijan to a full membership at the Council of Europe were true and correct and I was not mistaken in this matter. At the same time, I drew such a conclusion once again, and my opinion proved to be true, that straight after the affiliation of your republic to the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should urgently set up a special monitoring group to keep an eye on the processes taking place in Azerbaijan.

Mr. President, we would like You to provide the presence of spirit of cooperation with a future monitoring group and other representatives of the CE who are not directly attending these discussions just as You explained to us the spirit of cooperation at numerous meetings held by us and as we, i.e. the people, who arrived here from the Council of Europe, believed in it once and for all. Let these people make sure that Azerbaijan indeed follows a correct path to promote the growth of belief and trust of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe both in You and Azerbaijan.

I have expressed my opinion regarding the monitoring; however, I have to clarify one more detail. Speaking of a monitoring I do not mean the control by a delegation to arrive here from the Council of Europe over you. It should simply become the exerting of efforts towards cooperation between the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan in the path of democracy.

Mr. President, thirdly, bringing the things that happened yesterday into line with tomorrow’s event I would like to appeal to You with the following question. President of Russia, Mr. Putin, will pay a visit to your country. What kind of work will You insist to be done by Mr. Putin and Russia to provide their active role in settlement of The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? What can You tell us in this regard so that we could also contribute in future to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its member-states?

Paula Kokkonen: Mr. President, allow us to ask our questions first and then You will answer them.

Heydar Aliyev: Please.

Gerard Studman (director of the OSCE Bureau for democratic institutions and human rights): Mr. President, I consider that Your decision on holding re-elections in 11 districts was correct. It demonstrated once more that Your policy aimed at the entry into the Council of Europe and close cooperation with the OSCE, as well as the measures taken by You in this line were correct. Yesterday’s elections became an inspirational event in the view of expanding closer contacts with Azerbaijan and deepening our cooperation for the development of democracy.

It was said here that we had witnessed a number of advances at the re-elections taken place yesterday. These advances touched in particular the registration of candidates and examination of relevant complaints. It became apparent in respect of foreign observers, providing them with necessary conditions at the electoral stations and on the whole in the organizational issues connected with the election process. All this is definitely a visual result of the instructions given by You.

Thus, we have drawn such a conclusion that the progress achieved yesterday in 11 districts is possible to be achieved in the future elections in all the districts. The superior directions were given with respect to elections. However, despite that, according to our data, these directions were not followed at some stations. The representatives of some local executive authorities and electoral commissions showed their own initiative and undertook definite steps, whereas we know that such cases are regarded in Your instructions as inadmissible.

According to the data we have, the facts of double vote counting in a number of cases, putting fictitious bulletins into ballot-boxes, as well as bribery facts were also fixed. Pressure was put upon the members of an electoral commission, i.e. they were dismissed and relieved of their posts for non-fulfillment of directions of the chairman of a district electoral commission to support an appropriate candidate.

The things listed by me nowise disprove the fact that the present elections have become advancement as compared to the previous ones. We could not follow these facts in all the details. But such accusations simply took place and sounded. We do not know what definite facts they concern. However, we ask the bodies of the Public Prosecutor Office to investigate them and take corresponding measures. In particular, in the Sumgait electoral district.

We have informed the chairman of Central Election Commission about these shortcomings and expressed readiness to assist him. At the same time, I express readiness to render assistance to your relevant officials, too. I repeat once again that the shortcomings listed should not cast a shadow on our positive opinion regarding the elections. Thank You.

Pietro Ercole (head of "AGO" monitoring group of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Italian ambassador to the Council of Europe): Mr. President, having got acquainted with the opinion of the international observers, including the statements of Mrs. Kokkonen, Mr. Gross and Mr. Studman, I made certain once again, and we all came to a conclusion that the Council of Europe can adopt on January 17 a positive decision on Azerbaijan’s affiliation to this organization. We consider that the re-elections have positively contributed to this long-term process, i.e. Azerbaijan’s affiliation to the Council of Europe.

According to the data we have, You are planning to grant a big amnesty soon. We think it would be very good if You coordinate this step with affiliation of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe. If we, i.e. the Council of Europe were informed until January 17 about scheduling of such an event in the nearest future and this step was undertaken in honor of affiliation of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, it would contribute to our common cause and we would welcome it.

Guillermo Martinez Kasan (the rapporteur on Azerbaijan at the Special Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, member of Spanish parliament): Mr. President, as You remember, I said at our last meeting that if an opinion of observers was positive after the elections, I, as a rapporteur on Azerbaijan, would recommend the Committee of Ministers at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to accept your country as a full member of the CE. Now, I am going to undertake the following step. I will also recommend applying undelayable monitoring procedures in regard to Azerbaijan and we will carry out this monitoring together with respectable deputies to be represented at the Council of Europe from Azerbaijan.

Two days ago, I was afforded at the supper the honor of meeting some members of your delegation to be presented at the Council of Europe. I made the close acquaintance with some of them. In particular, with a much esteemed poet, member of "Musavat" Party.

Mr. President, I want to express hope that henceforward, parliamentary and other elections will be held in Azerbaijan in even more democratic atmosphere owing to You. Both the authority and opposition forces, as well as political parties of Azerbaijan will be able to take part at these elections with their full complement. Thus, Azerbaijan will contribute to our All-European home and our democracy owing to its democracy. We are always at your disposal in the solution of these tasks.

Paula Kokkonen: Mr. President, we express You our deep appreciation once again. If we can be useful for You in the future, we are always at your disposal. If You have mentioned, we have not given a thorough report today.

Heydar Aliyev: You have done everything up to now. To all appearances, you will prepare new subjects by the next time.

Distinguished guests, friends!

I appreciate you for the information introduced. I am pleased of your general positive opinion as regards the re-elections taken place yesterday. Meeting repeatedly, we agreed that democracy is a process, which constantly develops and moves toward. It should turn from one stage to another through improvement.

I have repeatedly stated and repeat once again that it should happen through improvement or evolution. Because it is difficult to achieve something straight away. If you consider that the administrative bodies of Azerbaijan, its Central Electoral Commission and local electoral bodies moved forward at yesterday’s elections, it certainly proves my words.

I have been informed that 48 percent of voters have taken part at these elections. I think it is a high rate. If we take into account that these are re-elections, and as I said last time, they are not all-national elections, the figure mentioned witnesses that the voters showed interest in elections at any rate and they were not indifferent.

I have stated not once that there were quite a number of shortcomings and mistakes made at the November 5 elections. Therefore, the Central Electoral Commission and Constitutional Court decided to annul the results of elections in 11 districts. However, on the whole, I do not agree with fully negative evaluation of the November 5 elections. The parliamentary majority has been elected, the parliament works and represents a quantity of parties and forces. But I repeat once again that there were certain shortcomings and mistakes. You have also rendered us great assistance. But we could thoroughly analyze our shortcomings too. Therefore, you recognize now that there is advancement and which can also be in the future. The basic point is that Azerbaijan follows and can follow henceforward the way of democracy.

And we will need your help in the future as well.

You have said that you want to arrange a monitoring. Then do it. As I understand, having affiliated to the Council of Europe, we will be constantly monitored. However, I think that the time will come when we become mature too and the necessity of monitoring will be no longer relevant. It is the same as a parents controls over his child until he grows up. But as soon as a son or a daughter can live and work independently, parents cannot control them any more. I understand that the Council of Europe will become a very careful and attentive "parent" in respect of Azerbaijan.

Paula Kokkonen:Mr. President, I have understood Your idea. I do not just know whether it will be truly like this. We do not reside in paradise even in the countries that have lived in democratic environment for a long time.

Heydar Aliyev: If you do not live in paradise, then we will apparently need much time to reach it. And we will try to reach it.

I express you my gratitude once more. You have said Azerbaijan can already join the Council of Europe. We certainly perceive it as a very important event and will try to become if not an excellent pupil, but exactly a good pupil within the European family.

Mr. Gross has asked me about tomorrow’s visit of Mr. Putin. It is of course the first official visit of the Russian President to Azerbaijan. I do not want to talk about anything too early and I cannot say anything yet. I can only mention the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will take a special place at our negotiations. Mr. Gross has asked what we can get from them. We have not got anything from the OSCE Minsk Group as yet. The Minsk Group is ruled by Russia, the United States of America and France. We have been living in the cease-fire regime for more than six years. We are holding peaceful negotiations. We want to establish peace. However, the destructive position of Armenia does not allow coming to such a result.

I will certainly try to expound my thoughts about the intensification of the activity of the Russian government in this area. But as long as the Council of Europe has advanced extremely high commitments before us, we would also like the Council of Europe to undertake effective measures for the solution of this issue. Therefore, I would like to express the hope that the Council of Europe will be able to prove to the whole world its activity in this line. The conflict has been cantinuing for already 12 years. The lands of Azerbaijan are occupied. A million Azerbaijanis have been exiled from the occupied lands. This injustice should be finally put an end. Therefore, we will be grateful, perhaps for the space of all our history, to anyone who will assist us in this matter and who will take efficient measures, including Russia. If the Council of Europe or OCSE can intensify their activity in this field, then it concerns them. Everything depends on these institutions and these countries.

I live with hope. I think the international community should finally take serious measures to put an end to this situation. I appreciate you once again. Come to Azerbaijan. And not only for monitoring, but come just as guests to see always the realities of Azerbaijan.

Paula Kokkonen: Mr. President, I am also grateful to You. Allow me to hand You a copy of information we prepared for the press and initial conclusion of our observers. Besides, as long as we have spoken much about the lectures, I want to present You the book about democracy and I would like to hold an exchange of opinions over this matter at our next meting.

Heydar Aliyev: Should I read it and then pass an exam to you?

Paula Kokkonen: I request You. You can study it as long as You wish. A test for You will not be drawn up so soon. Mr. President, You will decide yourself when to hold a testing or exam. Thank You very much.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank You, I appreciate You.

The "Azerbaijan" newspaper, 9 January, 2001.