A fragment from the meeting of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev with Ross Wilson, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan - February 26, 2001

Ross Wilson: mr. President, everything is OK. You have engaged me sufficiently.

Heydar Aliyev: I have done nothing. You are engaged in your business. I just know that you have participated in session of our parliament for two days. I think, it is useful too.

Ross Wilson: Mister President, undoubtedly, it was useful experience for me. I consider that from the historical point of view this is important an event as well as for Azerbaijan.

Mister President, conducting discussions under your personal leadership on Friday and Saturday, assume great importance because it was useful from the viewpoint of giving more detailed information to the Azerbaijan public on the conflict, deeper understanding of the conflict, carrying out an exchange of opinions on ways of its settlement. At the same time, you have once again shown that you remain true to settlement of the conflict by peace way. From the bottom of my heart, I wish to express hope that the discussions held by parliament will bring the contribution in the settlement of this conflict and come to the conclusion that there will be a decision, which can be accepted by both sides.

I would like to inform you that ambassadors of Russia and France share my opinions. All of us have such an opinion that settlement of this conflict by peace means is too important question for economic development of Azerbaijan, successful development of democracy in the country, for a safe life of Azerbaijan people. Both you and Azerbaijan can rely on support by the United States of America, members of the Minsk Group.

Heydar Aliyev: Thank you. Yes, if we take last years into account, discussion, which was taken place in Milli Majlis (Parliament) on Friday and Saturday dedicated to ways of settlement for Armenia-Azerbaijan, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict, is a historical event. Probably, people know how much efforts have been made by us for last seven years to solve the problem by peace way. I have brought figures there - how many meetings have been held, how many statements have been made in the international organizations, how many times co-chairmen of the Minsk group have been in Azerbaijan, carried on negotiations. Their number is many.

But recently I have even more felt that our public, deputies of Milli Majlis, political parties in Azerbaijan do not understand how this condition is heavy, to solve the problem is difficult. Some people understand, but, from the viewpoint of their personal interests, want to direct it to another side. And consequently, I ordered to publish three concrete proposals in a kind of documents which the Minsk group has presented to both Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1997 until this day.

In fact, it has astonished and some people have counted that I am the supporter of these proposals, I want to pass any of them. The opposition has had an opportunity to show itself, their opposition activity. However, the course of discussions has shown groundlessness of all of it, that is people have understood my purpose. I know that the publication of documents has caused discontent as well as in Armenia too. As if I had violated confidentiality. But any of them is not confidential. The society should know what proposals we have received and what is attitude to them.

After us, these proposals have been published in Armenia too. And it is not bad.

Anyway, I consider that in this respect we have undertaken very serious step. But my basic purpose didn`t consist of discussing any of these proposals and achieving their acceptance. If any of them could be accepted, I could discuss it in parliament, in the society during the time that we had got. As we have not attained any result after getting the proposals and our attitude, I have instructed to publish them. The basic purpose of the discussions in Milli Majlis consists of that let people in Milli Majlis, in the state bodies, political parties, intelligentsia, people of science, our patriots submit their offers on how to solve this problem.

I know, the most part of our public supports peace settlement. It has sounded in the majority of speeches in Milli Majlis. I am also supporter of it. But how to solve it? How to achieve to put an end to this question by peace way? It is necessary to take additional measures for this purpose. Let they say.

Some people say let`s wage war. I said and I declare once again, yes, we can wage war. Now we have an army, which is capable to wage war. But what we can achieve by war? We can release the occupied lands. But a lot of blood will be shed. But Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh)? Others consider that it is necessary to go and kill Armenians there. In such a way, it is necessary to get everything there. And it is senseless too. However, those who want war, in particular, oppositionists, say, let's wage war, liberate our grounds. All of them should know that war has its laws. To be at war, it is necessary to declare general mobilization, everyone should take part in war, state of emergency should be declared. All political parties should be closed. All oppositional newspapers should stop its work. Everyone should be involved in war. War has also other laws. As the Commander-in-chief I know all these laws. Let those, who shout "war, war" know it. When I declared war, their activity will be stopped. Everyone will go to war.

You know, people sitting in a cushy job say: let's prolong the question, freeze it and solve it after 5 years, 10 years. Yesterday I said, if someone has indeed offered it, I will wait, let they address that they want to live in tents at least 15 days or give a part of their house to people living in tents. I think such people will not be found. But, I will wait.

The condition is so difficult and it is necessary to take the important measures. I want the proposals on these measures to be given by a society, people, some political parties criticizing us. I will wait, may be something will turn out for 10-15 days. Perhaps, we will be offered something that we could not understand till now.

Thus, I consider that these discussions were very important. I know that it has caused the big resonance in our public, among people. Anyway, I am content with it.

Ross Wilson: Mister President, thank you very much. The United States of America completely agree with you that the military way is unacceptable for settlement of the conflict. All wars cause inconceivable damage to a society, people, economy. We consider that Azerbaijan`s way should not be the way of war. I agree with you that to adhere to the way of the settlement of this problem not now but later is not the way that this country can accept.

I have also been in camps, tents of refugees. Very proud, courageous people live there. With great hopes this people wish courageous, fearless steps by their leader, establishment of peace that they can return to their native lands, home. We consider that if there is a way of the settlement of this conflict, it is a peace way, a way of negotiations, and we support steps undertaken by you, your efforts in this sphere.

Mister President, I am glad for the meeting with you because I wish to deliver you the letter of President George Bush. Addressing to you by the letter, President George Bush once again wants to confirm that personally supports strengthening close and constructive relationship with Azerbaijan and the government ruled by you. He once again confirms that the United States of America is resolutely true to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. President Bush heartily welcomes acceptance of Azerbaijan into the Council of Europe and considers that it is historical event for Azerbaijan. It opens ample opportunities from the viewpoint of strengthening efforts for establishment of democratic, political, economic institutes in Azerbaijan and also integration of Azerbaijan into the Euro-Atlantic community.

President George Bush considers that peace settlement of the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict is one of the important questions for his administration. Mister Bush highly estimates negotiations carried on by you with President Kocharyan on the settlement of the conflict and achievement of the certain progresses. President Bush also welcomes that you will meet again in Paris in coming days, on March 4-5.

President Bush writes in his letter: The United States of America will continue to participate in this process actively. Personally I hope that in the current year, working together with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen, we can achieve restoration of peace in the Southern Caucasus. At the same time, Mister Bush notes that personally you and peoples of Azerbaijan and Armenia will make a difficult choice to achieve peace.

President Bush writes about his readiness to help to you for achievement of these purposes using all his opportunities and also opportunities of the United States of America. Emphasizing his understanding about great significance of East-West energy transport projects for independence and security of Azerbaijan, the President expresses hope that similar progress will also be attained in the project of a gas pipeline which will be constructed from Azerbaijan to Georgia and from there to Turkey.

In conclusion of the letter President George Bush writes: Beginning of execution of my power as President coincides with due time which promises very great prospects for development of mutual relations between our countries. I intend to work together with you with a view to full using of available opportunities for establishment of peace, stability and democracy in Azerbaijan and in the Caucasus, for providing prosperity of Azerbaijan people and neighbor Caucasian people.

Mister President, this is extremely serious letter. It is a letter which shows readiness of new Bush administration to begin the dialogue for the settlement of this conflict with you. I hope that on the eve of these days, more closely cooperating with you, we will strength our joint efforts in order to involve the persons supervising me in Washington in this process and to increase our contacts.

Heydar Aliyev: Dear ambassador, thank you. I am glad to receive such substantial, important letter from President Mister George Bush who has just started realization of his presidential powers.

You know that within last 7 years, I had personally constant close relations with the former government of the United States of America, personally with President Clinton, the State Secretary madam Albright and other persons and always understood that it is important for development of relations between Azerbaijan and the United States of America.

I am ready to continue this cooperation as well as with the new government and I express my gratitude that the President mister George Bush has paid attention to our country, sent very important letter to the President of Azerbaijan during the intense period of his activity. I will read attentively the letter. You have stopped only on some moments of this letter. It once again proves that relationships between the United States of America and Azerbaijan develop and will develop on ascending direction.

The statement of the President mister George Bush about America`s further efforts for peace settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) conflict, and also his opinions on the further joint activity of Minsk group co-chairmen make me optimistic.

Reflecting the questions on development of economic cooperation between our countries and in this regard beginning the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, export of the Azerbaijan gas to Turkey in this letter naturally shows that work carried by us last years continue and will continue as well as in the future at accelerated rates.

Delivering of this letter to me in these days is more important event too. Because you saw that I had discussed this question in parliament for two days and transferred it to public discussion. On March 4-5, I will hold meetings in Paris. Coming of the letter in this moment, naturally, once again confirms that the United States of America, their government constantly is dealt with this question - I mean Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Thank you. I will attentively read through this letter and one of these days I will necessarily reply it.
Thank you very much.

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