Speech of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev at VII session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation - June 12, 1996

Dear guests!

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

I heartily welcome you, the participants of the seventh session of parliamentary assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and I wish successes in your work.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation exists for three years. During this time, significant work has been carried out at a level of heads of states, governments, parliaments, at a level of Parliamentary Assembly, at a level of ministers for foreign affairs. We have the basis to be satisfied with the work, which has been carried out, but at the same time, I consider that this is only the beginning for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation to get wider development and for our cooperation to provide the implementation of aims and objectives, which was put before the countries, having united in this very important regional organization.

Last summer in Bucharest, capital of Romania, we met within the frames of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and the meeting was held at a level of heads of states and governments. We discussed many questions and scheduled the action program.

This program is being realized. In April of the current year, in the same place, in Bucharest, the meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs was taken place. And today in Baku VII session of Parliamentary Assembly is being held. All of these in a complex form manifest that we, the countries, which have united for cooperation within the limits of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, try to make use of this opportunity. But, it seems to me that while estimating the works, which have been carried out in the past, we should realize that we have still much work to do, and this session will bring the contribution to the further development and strengthening of our cooperation.

Efforts in all directions, including in the field of the legislation, lawmaking are necessary for effective cooperation of our countries. We should try to achieve mutual coordination of laws on main principles of our countries and create a powerful legislative basis for successful cooperation.

It is the first Parliamentary Assembly, and I think that both the present session and the future activity of parliamentary assembly, directed on those objectives, will help us to provide more successful development of our organization. There are a lot of issues and problems. It is a matter of cooperation in the field of economy, trade, technology, protection of the environment, education, humanitarian relations, science and technique. And, naturally, all of these are related to providing our cooperation for achievement of the peace, stability and security in our region.

I hope that the present session will concentrate the attention to these questions and make a new step to move ahead more successfully.

The Azerbaijan Republic attaches a great value to participation in the activity of the international organizations, including regional organizations. And, taking it into account, we give great significance to the participation in the organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and we will do all to make this cooperation effective for each country, including Azerbaijan, and for our entire region.

The foreign policy of the Azerbaijan Republic has taken the direction towards the establishment and development of bilateral, mutually advantageous cooperation and relations with all countries of the world. And in this respect, in the years of the independence, we have done significant work, we are satisfied that Azerbaijan has taken its worthy place in the World Community, established close cooperation and friendly relations with many countries of the world and participates in work of some regional organizations, including the organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

The countries in this region have many common duties and goals within the limits of our organization and we should unite our efforts for their realization. We spoke about it last summer in Bucharest. The heads of the states moved a number of proposals and they are in a stage of realization. I consider that our Black Sea Cooperation would be more successful if our economic cooperation is coordinated with the cooperation of the Caspian littoral countries to some extent.

The Black and the Caspian Seas are close to each other. The Black Sea covers many countries, there are eleven members of our organization, which have a direct communication with Black Sea. But five of them are Caspian littoral countries, which also aspire to find an effective basis for cooperation. I spoke about it in Bucharest and today I want to say that if we can achieve to coordinate the cooperation of the countries of the Black Sea basin with the Caspian littoral countries mutually, it would have great advantage for all of us. It is especially because, now more concrete transport communications are envisaged. These transport communications connect the countries of the Central Asia, the Caucasus and Black Sea.

Recently, the agreement on transport communications and cooperation in this sphere between Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia was signed in Turkmenistan. This agreement creates a highway, called Transcaucasus, which can operate very effectively for transportation of cargo from the Central Asia to the ports of the Black Sea through the Caspian Sea and from there to Europe, to other countries of the Black Sea basin and to the opposite direction. It just gives me the basis once again to pay attention to the necessity of coordination of cooperation within the limits of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation with the Caspian littoral countries.

During implementation of the work, naturally, there will be the new proposals and new issues. And therefore, our obligation is to approach all these proposals very attentively and try to realize all valuable, useful works in the name of interests of all countries and interests of our entire region.

Many countries, entering our economic cooperation organization, have faced with military conflicts. Many countries experience difficulties concerning internal life as well. The countries, who entered into our organization, can be divided approximately into two groups. These are the countries, which are already sovereign and independent states for a long time and go on this way for long. And the other group are the countries of the Eastern Europe and the countries, entered into the Soviet Union in the past, which experience a stage of a transition period, a stage of reorganization of economy, a sociopolitical life, a stage of national statehood construction and formation of national independence.

Both groups of countries have the problems, specific for their internal life and related to our identical situation and demand close integration, close mutual activity. By the way, today is the Day of the State Sovereignty of the Russian Federation, a national holiday. Taking this opportunity, I heartily congratulate the delegation of the Russian Federation with the national holiday - Day of the State Sovereignty and I wish happiness and prosperity to all Russian people.

Russia marks anniversary of the state sovereignty. The countries, which entered into the Black Sea economic cooperation, gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, build the national statehood, solve problems and also mark glorious dates, but the most important is that they struggle against those problems, which they face on their way after gaining the state independence, after finding the state sovereignty. And here, in this connection, the problems in those countries, which live as the sovereign independent states for a long time, problems in the countries of the Eastern Europe, entered into our organization, problems in the countries, entered into the Commonwealth of Independent States, maybe, in many respects are similar, similar to each other. And our teamwork can help us to eliminate these problems more successfully.

In Azerbaijan the transition period, that is, the period that we live after finding the state independence and sovereignty, is linked with very complex processes. The most painful and heavy problem for us is the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This conflict was created in 1988 connected with aspiration of Armenia to annex Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) region of the Azerbaijan Republic. The military conflict, started at that time and has turned into military aggression against Azerbaijan by Armenia. This aggression caused huge damage to the Azerbaijan Republic. We have incurred many losses, people have been killed. We were exposed to a huge material damage and detriment. The Armenian armed formations occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan`s territory. Except the territory of the former Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Autonomous Region, territories of seven regions around Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) have been occupied. More than one million inhabitants of Azerbaijan have been violently driven out of the occupied lands - Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and other regions, they live in the hardest conditions and the majority of them live in tents.

It is hardly possible to meet such horrors in any other country of the world, which are experienced by the citizens of Azerbaijan that have violently been expelled from places of the residence and live in tents for 4 and 5 years already. It, probably, can be met neither in Africa, nor in the Middle and the Near East, neither in Palestine, nor in Afghanistan.

It is said that there are 20 million refugees in the world according to statistics. In Azerbaijan however one million out of seven millions population of the republic are refugees. It is a heavy disaster, with which Azerbaijan people, and the Azerbaijan Republic have faced. Everything that had been created by many generations of inhabitants of these lands, Azerbaijanis was destroyed, plundered on the occupied lands. Such vandalism can hardly be found elsewhere.

I know well that during the Second World War, Great Patriotic War when a considerable part of the former Soviet Union was occupied by fascist armies, nor such destructions, there was no such vandalism. It is the reality which we experience. And it is just an alarm signal, which should be the warning for everybody. It is impossible to tolerate development of separatism, aggressive nationalism, chauvinism, it cannot be tolerated. The results are here, before our eyes. But they are not only here, but also in many regions of the former Soviet Union and in particular in the Caucasus.

We spoke about it during a meeting of heads of the states of the Russian Federation, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on June 3, in Kislovodsk. For Azerbaijan it is a big trouble and, naturally, a factor, which inflicts big damage to our aspirations for strengthening national statehood. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, a sacred principle of international law has been violated. Despite all this, we build the independent democratic, legal and civilized state in Azerbaijan. We go on a way of democratization in all spheres of our life. We go towards the democratization in the sphere of economy. We go on a way of introduction of market economy principles, in view of Azerbaijan`s peculiarities. We expand the economic relations with all countries of the world and we are open for economic cooperation, as well as, for economic integration. We encourage foreign investments into Azerbaijan for joint economic activities, in the name of development of our national economy.

We attach a great value to integration with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Centuries-old friendship ties connect us with these countries and we are in close links with them in economic sphere. We develop and we will develop these integration processes.

Notwithstanding huge material, moral damage inflicted by the Armenian aggression to our republic, we considered necessary to conclude an agreement on an armistice and we reached such an agreement in May, 1994. It is already two years that there are no military operations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, there are no shots, no victims and blood is not shed. As a whole, it was apprehended in our republic positively because it manifests peaceful character of the Azerbaijani people, a peace-loving policy of the Azerbaijan state. We support the peace in our region, we support the peace in the world and we support the peace at home. We do not want war. We consider that war never brings happiness, prosperity, and any war comes to an end in peace. But afterwards, a lot of means, efforts and time are required to eliminate consequences of war, any aggression and damages inflicted by it. We realize it well. And therefore, we support peace. And, when we agreed a ceasefire two years ago, we assumed it as a basis and today we also consider that this conflict can be solved by peace way. We need it.

Today I declare again that we even can not imagine being at eternal enmity with Armenia. We have a long border with Armenia, and our people live side by side in the neighborhood since the ancient times. And the peace in our region, in the Caucasus, and in particular, in Transcaucasia, can be provided only by a good-neighborhood relations to be established between all countries of the Caucasus, and in Transcaucasia - between Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Along with it, we attach great importance to cooperation with Russia, with which we have long common border and deep historical relations.

During the period of ceasefire, we tried to make use of all opportunities for a fair peace settlement to the conflict and we`re also doing it today and today we also try. Basically, we make use of opportunities of the OSCE Minsk group and, naturally, opportunities of the large countries of the world - the Russian Federation, the United States of America and other members of the Minsk group of the OSCE, including Turkey, Germany, France and opportunities of many other countries. We will continue our efforts in this direction. Intermediary efforts of Russia on peace settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan have great importance. Russia is the co-chairman of the Minsk Group of OSCE, and actively deals with this problem. Russia has great opportunities to achieve a just and fair peace settlement of this question.

We offer acceptable and fair terms, we behave at these negotiations in a constructive way and make on compromises to reach the peace. Our proposals consist of that it is necessary to restore territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, to provide inviolability of the borders of the Azerbaijan Republic, recognized by international community. For this purpose, it is necessary to withdraw the Armenian armed forces from the occupied lands, to provide conditions for returning inhabitants to their native homes, native lands, although there are neither houses nor dwellings there, everything has been destroyed, but there is a native ground. Everyone being expelled from his land, has a single desire - to return to their grounds, to return to tombs of their ancestors, to go back there, where their ancestors lived for centuries, to motherland, to own ground. This is an important condition.

Naturally, at the same time, we also consider necessary and possible the security of the Armenian population in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan - where about hundred thousand Armenians live, and all Azerbaijanis, who lived centuries in Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and are expelled from there, - and for this purpose to grant Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) the highest status of an autonomy within the Azerbaijan state, which is available in a modern world practice. These are the very proposals and they are quite acceptable both by Armenia and Azerbaijan. We, certainly, cannot allow making pressure upon us, taking advantage of occupation of a part of our territory and superiority in military sphere according to their opinion, and granting Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) of the state independence and annexing the Mountainous Garabagh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Armenia by method of violence.

And non a state in the world will agree with it. No international organization can admit such a violation of international law, the international legal and state relations. We will act in this direction. Today I declare over again that we are supporters of peace settlement of the problem and we will not admit the renewal of military actions. We confirmed our adherence to peace settlement of the conflict and observance of a cease-fire regime and in statement and declaration accepted during a meeting in Luxembourg in April of this year, and during a meeting of heads of the CIS states in Moscow on May 17, or during a meeting of heads of the states of Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in Kislovodsk on June 3.

I think you will understand me if I kept your time to inform you about it. I consider it necessary. Because it just directly concerns the problems of security, stability and peace in region of the Black Sea pool. I know, and you also know that the other countries of the Black Sea basin have faced big problems and conflicts. Such a great country as Russia has faced the Chechen problem, the Chechen separatism. There is a war for a year and a half. And, naturally, we are not indifferent to it, only because the Russian Federation has the right to achieve territorial integrity, to stop any form of separatism. And we have the same right. To my opinion, we should treat in the same way such disgusting phenomena of our time, as aggressive separatism, the terrorism and other displays of violence.

I reiterate we go on a way of constructing a democratic and legal state. We strengthen and we will strengthen the national statehood, the state independence. We assume it as a basis that there can be the most efficient cooperation and establishment of friendly relations with many countries of the world and first of all with neighboring countries, with the countries of the Black Sea pool. On the basis of principles of friendship, good neighborhood, non-interference in each other`s internal affairs, respect to human rights and the rights of peoples, respect to the sovereignty of each state.

The processes of democratization in Azerbaijan develop in complicated internal political condition. Unlike many other countries represented here, we have experienced complicated internal political problems in Azerbaijan disregarding the military conflict, military aggression by Armenia. There was no stability here many years after gaining the state independence. For this period, the authority in Azerbaijan was changed three times. Unfortunately, the armed units and illegal armed formations were used for this purpose. And three years ago, just these days, in June, 1993, the civil war started in Azerbaijan, there was the government crisis, and Azerbaijan stood before the big disaster of internal confrontation, the disaster connected with civil war.

We could manage to overcome all that, prevented the further escalation of events. But those illegal armed formations and the so-called state and political figures, who were supported by illegal armed formations to achieve their goals, to come to the power, continued to live still with their psychology and morality. And consequently, in October, 1994 we faced with another attempt of the military coup. It was possible to overcome, stop this attempt with the support and force of all people. National support to authority in October, 1994 by one million people who gathered in front of the Presidential palace, and the next day in the Square of Freedom in Baku by the appeal of the President, prevented the further development of this confrontation and we managed to neutralize these armed formations.

However, inertia had an effect and, I repeat, this situation, which developed in Azerbaijan, approximately in the beginning of 1989 and 1990, unfortunately, had an effect. And in 1995, we again faced twice with the attempt to overthrow the power by the armed group of the Special Police Unit (OPON), which had left subordination of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, certainly, having united with many oppositional forces existing inside the republic and beyond its limits. We managed to prevent it too. Attempts to commit terrorist acts have also taken place.

All of this is a reality of our life in the last years. All this, at the same time, exerted negative influence upon the processes going on in our country, and naturally, prevented to carry out democratic changes.

But, despite all this, we confidently go on the way selected by us, on the way of democracy, construction of democratic and legal state. And, follow this way, we adopted the first Constitution of the independent Azerbaijan Republic in November last year by national voting - a referendum. We consider it the constitution, reflecting principles of democracy, principles of national statehood, principles of the human rights and experience of democratic construction as in many other countries of the world.

Then, in November of the last year, on the basis of democratic elections, the first parliament of the independent Azerbaijan Republic was elected. Now we are at a stage of practical realization of the Constitution`s clauses, we develop the activity of our parliament. We should adopt many laws. We were late in implementation of the program of reforms, in particular, in privatization, in realization of reforms in agrarian sector, in land reform, etc.

But I do not think that we have stayed behind or lost too much. We observed the experience of other countries, in particular the countries in the CIS, because we experience the same problems. We try to get all positive features in these countries, and not to make those mistakes, which have been made by them.

Undoubtedly, in all these issues we follow achievements of the democratic countries, which already have rich traditions. Carrying out principles of market economy, we adopt much from the experience of those countries which have established their present economic system and relations of market economy not only for decades, but also for centuries. We widely make use of experience of the western countries, but we consider Azerbaijan`s peculiarities, we will make use of this rich experience in the future as well.

I informed you on some aspects of Azerbaijan`s life. But, first of all, as the head of the state, I consider it very necessary to learn problems, which we meet, and to use this opportunity to achieve the best cooperation, the best mutual understanding and the best interaction. Once again I want to say that our problems - both concerning the military conflict and internal political conditions, are characteristic for many countries of our region to some extent.

Today there is a stable political situation in Azerbaijan. There are all conditions and opportunities for the further development of economic relations, for economic integration and for realization of joint projects. You know that we have implementation of joint projects on exploitation of oil deposits with the largest oil companies of the world - the western oil companies, the Russian oil company and the Turkish oil company. I think it is just an example, which characterizes an openness of our economy for economic cooperation. In our country stability has been provided, we have a Constitution, we have laws guaranteeing joint economic activities and we have all conditions for carrying out joint projects. We could do it also with the countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and with all other countries of the world.

I consider that cooperation within the limits of the countries of the Black Sea pool is a fine opportunity for the further development and strengthening of friendship ties between our countries, states and people. Our peoples have very ancient relations - economic, cultural and human, among themselves. These relations always enriched us and brought mutual advantage. We should approach carefully to these traditions and try using them effectively as much as possible for our modern life and to put in pawn a basis for the life of the future generations.

Therefore, taking this fine opportunity, I call you for friendship, cooperation, to active mutual activity. Azerbaijan is an open country. Azerbaijan wants the peace and you can always find the reliable partner as Azerbaijan for friendship, cooperation, for the further relations. I wish you, dear friends, success in your work. I wish all countries and peoples entering our organization, success and prosperity; I wish the peace, safety and stability in our region.

Thank you for your attention.