From the talk of Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, while the meeting with the delegation headed by Bronislav Geremek, chairman of OSCE - November 25, 1998

Heydar Aliyev: Mr. Minister, Mr. Chairman!

Distinguished guests!

I sincerely welcome you in Azerbaijan.

The visit of the OSCE delegation headed by Mr. Geremek, chairman of OSCE to Azerbaijan is a significant event for our country. Azerbaijan has always paid a great attention to the activity of OSCE and is satisfied of its membership. We want to cooperate with OSCE further and lead the establishment of statehood and socio-political life of Azerbaijan up to the level of OSCE requirements.

Mr. Geremek is the Foreign Minister of Poland. The friendly and cooperative relations between Poland and Azerbaijan have developed. For their further development we did our best and signed several important documents during my official visit to Poland in August 1997. The Polish President Mr. Kwasniewski and I signed a joint statement on the development of friendly relations between Poland and Azerbaijan.

I have invited Mr. Kwasniewski to pay an official visit to Azerbaijan and we are looking forward to his visit in 1999. I wish Mr. Geremek to come to Azerbaijan again with Mr. Kwasniewski. During our tete-a-tete meeting we exchanged a broad range of views on the relations between Poland and Azerbaijan. We have the same opinion that the current relations between Poland and Azerbaijan are on a good level, are developing well and have a bright future. Especially there are big opportunities to develop the economic relations. Moreover, useful relations can be established on export of oil and gas in future. Azerbaijan will keep implementing its obligations on the basis of negotiations held in Warsaw in August 1997.

The main part of our negotiations with Mr. Geremek was dedicated to the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict within the frames of OSCE. We pay great attention to the activity of OSCE in this issue and appreciate the work done up to now.

For the peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Minsk Group was established within OSCE 6six years ago. During the recent years we have been cooperating with the Minsk Group productively. OSCE made a lot of efforts for the peaceful solution of the conflict within the frames of the Minsk Group, in the summits of OSCE and in the meetings of the foreign ministers.

We appreciated the decision adopted at the Budapest Summit of OSCE in December 1994 as a significant step forward in the solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. At the Lisbon Summit of OSCE in December 1996, the principles for the peaceful settlement of the conflict were determined. We accepted them as basic principles. I think that the co-chairs of the Minsk Group can elaborate a peace treaty on the basis of these principles.

Unfortunately, since the Lisbon Summit, the activity of the co-chairs hasn't been so intensive. In June 1997 the co-chairs submitted their proposals on the solution of the conflict which were accepted by us. After the Armenian party rejected them, the Minsk Group submitted new proposals in September 1997. These proposals implied the settlement of the issue in two stages. We accepted them, too. In autumn we were informed that the Armenian party is ready to accept the principles. But later it was impossible to realize them into life, because of the events in the Armenian administration and other reasons, the activity of the Minsk Group stopped for a while.

However, we have always asked the Minsk Group for the implementation of proposals. They promised us to submit new proposals.

On November 9, 1998 the co-chairs of the Minsk Group visited Azerbaijan and presented new proposals. We looked through those proposals very attentively. However, in the evening of November 9 we informed the co-chairs about impossibility of the acceptation of the proposals by the Azerbaijani party.

We explained to the co-chairs the reasons why we can not accept their new proposals. They promised to take our opinions into account. Afterwards the co-chairs visited Armenia. According to the information, Armenia accepted those proposals. Alongside our oral respond on November 9, we presented our official position on the proposals later on November 19.

In the meeting with Mr. Geremek we exchanged views on this issue. I broadly informed Mr. Chairman why Azerbaijan can not accept these proposals.

There are many delegates, reporters here today. Thus, I want to clarify the reasons why we can not accept them.

In the Lisbon Summit of OSCE, the main principles of the solution of the conflict were determined. One of these principles is granting the Nagorno-Karabakh a high self-administration. Azerbaijan agreed with this principle. But not everybody in our society shares the same opinion. Some people opposing to our position, think that we should not have accepted that principle

We agreed to this principle, having made a compromise for the establishment of peace in our region, the liberation of our territories controlled by the Armenian armed forces, the return of the displaced people to their home. We have negotiated with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on these issues. I declare it again that we are ready to grant the Nagorno-Karabakh the highest self-administration status within Azerbaijan according to the norms of international law.

However, the main principle of the new proposals is the "common state" principle or "obschee gosudarstvo" as in Russian. It is not a principle of the international experience or the international law norms. It is an invented form of state. Something invented may be better. But its composition reflects the "common state" principle. The new submitted proposals imply the establishment of a "common state" within Azerbaijan by the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

There is Azerbaijan which gained its independence in 1991 and was recognized by all the world countries; it is represented in OSCE as well. But the proposals imply that Azerbaijan must recognize "the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" and create a "common state" with it.

There are a lot of points to be critisized, but we object mainly that principle. We can never agree to the creation of a "common state" with the Nagorno-Karabakh which is its integral part, but separated as a result of the Armenian aggression. This proposal is against the national interests of Azerbaijan. I wonder why the co-chairs of the Minsk Group suddenly submitted such a strange proposal, having cooperated with us for several years. It seems as if somebody wants to solve the problem no matter what will happen. The people who have witnessed the events happened in Azerbaijan since the beginning of the Armenian aggression, should not do that.

The Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of our territories. Consequently, the property of Azerbaijan in the occupied territories have been destroyed; over one million IDPs now live in tents in critical conditions. The integral part of Azebaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh has been occupied and annexed Armenia as a result of the military aggression of Armenia with the help and supports of some states.

Despite the losses, Azerbaijan can never cede its territories to another state. The territorial integrity of Azebaijan is and must be protected by the norms of the international law, as well as with the principles of OSCE. Territorial integrity must be virtual and sovereign, not only formal. The violance of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the occupation and the control of 20 per cent of its territories by the aggressive army must worry the world community, as well as all the members of OSCE. Particularly, the members and co-chairs of the Minsk Group should approach these issues with more responsibility.

Therefore, we can not accept these proposals. It is true that we want the war to end and the peace to prevail. In 1994 we signed the treaty of ceasefire. Since that time we have maintained the ceasefire regime and will keep it. We think that all this is interim. We do not doubt that the occupied territories of Azerbaijan will be liberated, the Azerbaijani citizens will return their homes, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored and the Nagorno-Karabakh will flourish within Azerbaijan with a high self-administrative status. We believe in it. However, we can not accept the ways offered for the solution of the conflict.

Some say as if this proposal was agreed with Azerbaijan in advance. It is incorrect information. Yesterday the Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Ivanov phoned me. He told me that while the co-chairs of the Minsk Group were reporting him on these proposals informed as if Azerbaijan agrees and can accept them. I told him that it is wrong information. These proposals have never been agreed with us. We were submitted the proposals on November 9, and we disclosed our position on them immediately.

I informed Mr. Geremek about these issues well. Perhaps I am repeating them for him. But I have to say them now. Mr .Geremek, I asked and now ask you again to approach this problem of Azerbaijan with attention. We can not accept those proposals. There have been some proposals up to now. Some were accepted or rejected by us, some - by Armenia. Subsequently, the Minsk Group kept functioning. It is unjust to create a hard situation for us with such a proposal on the eve of the meeting of the OSCE foreign ministers in Oslo in December 2. I hope that the members of the Minsk Group and OSCE, especially Mr. Geremek, will approch our views with attention. Thank you.

Bronislav Geremek: Mr. President, I thank you for your position expressed in our meetings. The OSCE mission has come here to express its adherence to peace and stability in this country, to inform the world community about the hard situation and sufferings of the Azerbaijani people. We understand and perceive these problems. It is necessary to understand all those difficulties for the solution of the problem.

Mr. President, I learnt that your country needs peace which will suit to the interests of both parties. The self-identity of the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh must be permitted, at the same time, the occupied territories of Azerbaijan must be liberated, the Azerbaijani IDPs must return home. I am sure that OSCE will make all efforts in the settlement of the problem and support the establishment peace, stability and justice.

Mr. President, a while ago you disclosed your position regarding the last proposal submitted by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. As the current chairman of OSCE, I`ll take all what you have said into account. It is pleasant to hear from you that you will continue your activity for peace, support the efforts of the Minsk Group and maintain the ceasefire regime. You imagine the scheme of the further negotiations between the belligerent sides with the medium of the Minsk Group. Mr. President, I think that we all keep working for the restoration of peace negotiations.

As the Foreign Minister of Poland, I can say that your official visit to Poland was successful. Hopefully the official visit of President Kwasniewski will continue the dialogue and develop the cultural, political and economic relations between the countries.

Mr. President, I would like to talk to you about some specific issues. But the presence of the reporters here doesn't let discuss them.

Translated Newspaper "Azerbaycan", November 28, 1998