11 July 2006

836) Interview Of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev To Cumhuriyet

The following is the interview the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev gave on July 4 in Baku to the reporter of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet Leyla Tavsanoglu.

QUESTION: Mr. President, we have, at last, reached the final stage of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project that we have been anticipating for many years. When visiting Kazakhstan you met with President Nazarbayev, and agreed on using the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to carry the Kazakh oil. How do assess this - i.e. the fact that the Kazakh oil will also be transported via this pipeline - on the eve of the official opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline?

ANSWER: It once again proves the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to be very advantageous project from not only economic but also any other viewpoints. We have worked at it for several years, and were implementing this large project in collaboration. It will allow us to bring the Caspian oil to the world market. We are anticipating the production of large amounts of oil, and, of course, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline is of great interest for other companies, as well. The Kazakhstan’s joining the project is a one more evidence of this.

You know, in the past, there were different opinions about this project. There was some resistance, and there were forces that did not want it to be realized. They even said this project was economically unjustified, disadvantageous. The life shows, however, all these allegations were not based on real facts, whereas our thoughts, ideas and policy have become a reality. This project, and, in general, the international projects implemented in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, have already brought all this activities to a global level. It has already broken the regional bounds, and is now acquiring a global significance, that, in its turn, is of great importance for Azerbaijan.

QUESTION: Mr. President, your late father, esteemed Heydar Aliyev used to meet regularly with our ninth head of state. After your father passed away, and the esteemed Demirel left his office, however, our relationship seemed to become cooler, didn’t it?

ANSWER: No, not at all.

JOURNALISTS: At that time, they seemed to meet more frequently.

ILHAM ALIYEV: You know, now it’s a little difficult to compare. But I’d like to say that the Turkey-Azerbaijan relations are developing very rapidly, and now are on the highest level. I had numerous meetings with esteemed President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and esteemed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan both in Baku, Ankara and other countries. Our ties are very strong. Besides, Turkish delegations, ministers and parliamentarians visit Azerbaijan in a regular manner, and likewise, the visit of Azerbaijani delegations to Turkey. It let us say that our relations are getting stronger, and realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines, and later the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway projects is possible only as a result of our joint activities, and it is a reality.

Q: Mr. President, by the way, the Armenian lobby is doing their best to hamper realization of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Baku railway project. Do you think the Armenians will manage to achieve their goal? The question arises because they are striving to seriously prevent both European Union and the United States from supporting the project.

A: They naturally will try to do so, because Armenian and the Armenian lobby are hostile towards Azerbaijan and Turkey, and will use every opportunity to strike us a blow. It will continue. It is a truth, a reality. We should pursue our policy with confidence. Look, the Armenian lobby was opposing actively the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. They even sent letters to the international organizations. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and banks funding the projects were among those they were trying to put pressure upon. But they failed to achieve anything, because the steadfastness of the Azerbaijan state, the steadfastness of the Turkish state, and active stance of Georgia prevented them from spoiling this business. Despite all their efforts to hamper realization of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, I am convinced that we will do realize this project. Indeed, the Armenian lobby is striving for some organizations, international structures not to support this project, but our current situation allows us to be independent of other organizations. We have possibilities, and we have funds. I told several time that today Azerbaijan is prepared to fulfill its financial obligation, and we can do that at the expense of our own funds. Therefore, this Armenian policy will fail to succeed; Azerbaijan will become stronger, and take stronger position in the region. Armenia is now isolated from all the international projects, and their situation will further worsen.

Q: Mr. Aliyev, You met with President Vladimir Putin as well. Did you share you views on Armenia with Putin?

A: You know, the international group of mediators works to settle Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The group includes Russia, France and the United States of America. Thus, these three countries try to assist us in reaching any kind of agreement.

Q: The issue of referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh has emerged too. Is it really so?

A: You know, Minsk group has recently made a statement with some details of their proposals made public. Namely, the revealed issues were their proposals, as we have not come to agreement. Armenia and Azerbaijan are far away from the agreement. There are just some proposals. They were put forward by the Minsk group. The final statement has revealed some of them. We did not raise our objection to it because we have never wanted the talks be held in the dark. We have nothing to hide. Considering the other side’s suggestion, we also agreed to hold secret negotiations. As Minsk group has decided to go public about the details of the peace talks, thus, we have to make some things clear too.

The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored. No compromise is possible here. Occupation forces should leave the lands they occupied, and Azerbaijani refugees and IDPS must return to these territories. As to the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the opinion of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities may be taken into consideration since both Armenians and Azerbaijanis resided in Nagorno-Karabkh before the war. Return of Azerbaijanis to Nagorno-Karabakh is the condition. They have to return there, they have to be settled. Afterwards, the communities and Azerbaijan - as Nagorno-Karabakh is the integral part of Azerbaijan - can hold discussions on the Karabakh status in the future. We will see in the future how much time the negotiations will require. This is the issue.

We will never allow adopting any decision that violates the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan or provides for separation of Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a year, decade or hundred years. We will never allow this. Minsk group co-chairs and leadership of Armenia are aware of this. In some cases, Armenia tries to go public about some points that are incorrect and do not reflect the reality. Maybe, they want the public opinion in Armenia be positively oriented. However, the reality is that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not the subject of negotiations, and independent status will never be given to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Q: Mr. President, there is an interesting issue. So-called “President” of Nagorno-Karabakh said “we neither join Armenia nor Azerbaijan can possess us, and we will be the independent state. What is you opinion? How much sincere he was?

A. I do not give at all to its words any value as he heads an illegal criminal regime - illegitimate, a self-proclaimed, criminal group not recognized by any international organization. Therefore, I, at all, do not wish to speak about this person, and his words have no value.

As to ways of the settlement of question in the whole, the international community has recognized Nagorno Karabakh as an inseparable part of Azerbaijan. The United Nations Organization, all other organizations recognize territorial integrity of Azerbaijan together with Nagorno Karabakh. In that case, independence cannot be even debated. There is a certain practice, a world practice, practice of normal residing of minority. Including in Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan, there are national minorities that live very easy, freely, have all rights. In Europe, there is a form of autonomy. It functions in the several European countries. Why there should be any other form here?! Why the national minority living in Azerbaijan can move the territory of the residing from Azerbaijan and create an independent state?! We shall not allow it, and anybody, any organization and any country never will recognize independence of Nagorno Karabakh. If to consider, that today Azerbaijan becomes stronger as from the political, economic, and the military point of view, here we possess more preferable positions.

Armenia cannot compete with us, and by years our force will be even more palpable. I regret, that time goes ahead, and our refugees and IDPs cannot still return to the native lands. But I am convinced, that we will solve the problem fairly and according to norms of international law. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be provided, and the sovereignty of Azerbaijan restored within the borders of entire country.

Q. Mr. President, there is a plan for Your meeting with Robert Kocharian. Is there probability for Your meeting with Kocharian during the G8 Summit?

A. No, there is nothing as such. We have met several times during some months, and those meetings did not give any result.

J. Didn’t?

A. No. As you know, the first meeting passed in France and the Armenian president left the meeting uncompleted. Then, a meeting took place in Romania. There, too, was gained nothing. There is no any understanding between us, no agreement, and the reason for hat is Armenia’s unconstructive position. Armenia’s occupant policy.

We have no territorial claim against anyone. We demand to return back the territory that belongs to Azerbaijan. We try to do it peacefully. We give chance to Armenia to withdraw from the occupied lands and without any bloodshed and warfare to resolve this question. Should we achieve this, then, the picture will change completely, be established relations, ways open and cooperation be possible. In future, Armenia - now isolated from all international projects - can join them. That is, the Armenian people will also benefit this.

What is the use for Armenian people of the occupation of these lands? Nothing. Did they begin to live better? No. Increased their reputation over the world? On the contrary, the world recognizes then as occupant, aggressor state, as a state that pursues the policy of ethnic cleanse against Azerbaijanis.

Did Armenian’s positions strengthen in the world? No. By delay of settlement of the conflict, their positions get worse and worse. And in the future, of course, they cannot compete with Azerbaijan. Therefore, should this question find its solution, the Armenian people will also live better. But settlement of the question is possible only on base of international law. There are certain principles in the world, rules, and resolutions of international organizations.

Now, Armenia wants to annex Nagorno Karabakh. And we can want many things. We can want to annex Azerbaijan’s historical lands, to annex the Iravan Khanate to Azerbaijan. We can want that. But it is not reality now. That’s why, and this question cannot be solved on somebody’s wish. There is international law. I reiterate, now we give chance to Armenia to settle this question peacefully. Otherwise, we should consider and other versions.

Q. That is, You mean the warfare?

A. That is, it is not excluded. Never excluded.

If to take into account that now the ceasefire regime is very sensible. That is, the safety measures do not enable to provide full calm in the contact line. There are no forces of other countries between us, no peacemaking troops. That is, any unpleasantness is possible. How long should we bear this? How long should be participate in negotiations? We see the Armenian side is not frank in talks. Therefore, we must be ready for all versions. Azerbaijan’s rising economic potential, military strength, its position in region, our importance for region and the world, lead us to superior positions. By years passed, this will seem more vividly. Armenia should think and they bear responsibility for all possible dangerous conclusions.

Q. That is, responsibility will rest on them?

A. Yes.

Q. Esteemed Mr. Aliyev, but they seem not as earlier?

A. Look, how unfair claims they raise against Turkey. And they raise false, imaginary, unreal and faked accusations, and try the notorious “genocide” to be approved in Europe. That is, it shows that they are in a hostile position.

First, there was not any genocide. Instead, in all periods they have killed the Turks, Azerbaijanis, and massacred them.

Secondly, let us have a look at the new history. There were countries that battled with each other for ten times, twenty times. The European countries. Have a look at the World War II. In this war, carried out by Germany, the Soviet Union, England, France and America, 30 million and may be more people were killed. Wars occurred in world, and earlier in Europe. But after 20 years, the Soviet Union and Western Germany established relations. And today they are allies, France and Germany play leading role in the European Union and all see their alliance. These nations, these countries have closed the history for future, for progress. But look at Armenia; they educate their youth in spirit of hostility.

J. And they still live in the past?

ILHAM ALIYEV. They live in the past, and therefore cannot develop. This is their problem. It shows that they are not going to leave this policy. They, first, try the “genocide’ to be recognized, and what will be further, we know. Then they will demand compensation. Then, they will raise territorial claim against Turkey. We know that. And therefore we must be ready. Turkey and Azerbaijan should have stronger position. We should not defend, but on the contrary, we should attack from the point of view of policy and propaganda. Here, in Azerbaijan we set up the affairs in high level. It is necessary to unmask the Armenian propaganda, and smash up their false propaganda and bring to the notice of world community.

Q. Mr. President, You have visited America, in your meetings, what discussions did you have related to Iran, Armenia, Turkey, the region and Azerbaijan?

A. My visit to America was very successful. There were comprehensive talks with to President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and other officials - ministers, public figures, senators, congressmen, and the non-governmental organizations. Of course, we had, first of all, exchange of views on bilateral relations. I can say today the Azerbaijan-America relations are very high level. We cooperate successfully in all fields, and my official visit once again strengthened it. The bilateral relations will develop much more intensively.

Of course, the situation in region was also discussed. Because we live in this region, and the ongoing processes in region have certain influence on Azerbaijan, and the processes in Azerbaijan impact the regional affairs. The major item is that stability was not violated here. The peace was established, strengthened, the safety measures reinforced and the region could normally cooperate in secure conditions. It is because the region has great potential. Oil and gas fields of Caspian, transport routs, new opportunities - to use all these we need safety measures be strengthened, and Azerbaijan plays its own role in this cause.

Q. Mr. President, there were periodically color revolutions in region. As we follow the later processes, it appears those revolutions have failed. Why did these color revolutions take place? And there were also similar attempts here, but failed. Isn’t that true?

A. Those attempts here also had, to say, very pitiful impressions. Possibly you know its reasons. It results when the people and government have different points of view in some questions. Or, the abyss between power and people deepens. And, of course, also the socio-economic problems instigate the people to this. As to Azerbaijan, here, it completely differs. Now, for economic growth, we are the leading country in the world. Last year the economic growth made up 26 percent, while in five months of this year it was 40 percent. For economic growth rate we are the first over the world.

The industrial production in Azerbaijan in five months has increased approximately by 40 percent. In the last two and a half year, 400 workplaces have been opened in Azerbaijan. Number of vulnerable downsized by 20 percent. Revenues of the population have increased by 25 percent. That is, all these show that the country economically strengthens, and the people live better. In addition, the people approve our external policy. That is, there was no reason for uprising here. True, some politicians having watched the unrests in other countries either wanted to cerate problem, or even reach something. But the people did not support them.

[July 10, 2006, 21:06:52]


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