Aliyev: Baku Is Ready to Cooperate with Armenia on Condition of De-occupation of Azerbaijani Lands
The site of the President of Azerbaijan has published a detailed report on the speech of President Ilham Aliyev on February 7 at the panel session "Besides Ukraine - unresolved conflicts in Europe" in the 51st Munich Security Conference.
The head of state spoke and answered questions from the panel, co-chaired by the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor.
President Borut Pahor: President Aliyev, how much are you optimistic on the issue that acute crisis that we are facing in Ukraine may give impetus to a good initiative to resolve the frozen conflicts, which we sometimes forget? I would like to hear your comment on this.
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, the tragic situation in Ukraine draws attention to another conflict ongoing for many years, the solution of which is delayed. In our example, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has more than 20-year history. This conflict began before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and after its collapse it was even more acute. The conflict led to the occupation of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Under the occupation are 20 percent of our territories and Nagorno-Karabakh - the historic part of Azerbaijan is captured. All Azerbaijanis were forcibly expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh. Occupied by Armenia are also 7 surrounding districts, with a population of 700 thousand people. In the occupied territories all is destroyed, and we have more than 20 years of negotiating to no avail. OSCE deals with this question. The OSCE has a special group dealing with the settlement of the conflict. It's called the Minsk Group and its Co-Chairs are three permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, France and the United States. This group has been operating for more than twenty-two years, but no results have been achieved.
President Borut Pahor: Why? How can you explain this?
President Ilham Aliyev: I think that Armenia is not facing enough international pressure. Sometimes we see that the UN Security Council resolutions are carried out if not for a few hours, then within a few days. As for us, there are four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in the early 1990s, but none of them was executed. I believe that the lack of political will of intermediaries to provide adequate pressure on the aggressor has led to a real situation with which we are facing today. Since Armenia is mainly a dependent country, it cannot provide for itself. They cannot develop and in question is even their statehood. Armenia will not be able to live without outside support. Support is being provided by the main countries, co-chairs of the Minsk Group. And it's ironic. Here we see a double standard, and it saddens us. I note that all conflicts in the post-Soviet space should be shown the same attitude. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has the same value as the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which all now talk about.
President Borut Pahor: In your opinion, is the conflict in the shadow of the Ukrainian conflict?
President Ilham Aliyev: In fact, this conflict has remained in the shadow of other major international events. By the way, the Ukrainian issue attracted some attention to this conflict. I believe that the lessons learned from the Ukrainian question should be carefully studied. If the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was resolved, the Ukraine, may not now be faced with this conflict, because here we have the same scenario - the same violation of territorial integrity, the same result, occupation, separatism. They are like mirror images of each other. Therefore, we expect the same approach from the international community and the leading countries. As for us, unlike other conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in connection with the conflict, there are four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. The fact that these resolutions are not fulfilled, demonstrates disrespect countries that have adopted these resolutions, to their decisions.
President Borut Pahor: Mr. President, do you think whether the failure creates opportunities for expanding the complexity of the European Union in the region where there is a problem?
President Ilham Aliyev: As for us, that is the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, I believe that it is - not the main issue, as our perspectives associated with any integration into the European Union are clear.
President Borut Pahor: And NATO?
President Ilham Aliyev: As for NATO, I think it would depend mainly on the issues on the agenda of the organization. Initiative in the relationship between a country like Azerbaijan and international organizations always comes from international organizations. Until now, the level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO, the European Union and Azerbaijan was satisfactory for both parties. Neither NATO nor the European Union intends to intervene directly in the negotiation process. Official representatives of both organizations have repeatedly pointed out this fact. Therefore, we, in fact, rely on their own resources. 21 years ago, when it was declared a ceasefire, the main goal of Azerbaijan is to build a strong economy and the state, relying on themselves. While we still had hope that the international community has to do something to restore justice. Initially, we had a lot of hope. As I mentioned, the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and other international institutions have always supported our position. Over time, however, we saw that these resolutions just remain on paper, and all that - just statements, visits, activities, without any result. Then we realized that the fate of our country is in our own hands.
President Borut Pahor: What first step should be taken to restore confidence?
President Ilham Aliyev: I think that it's very simple. The first step - is the beginning of the return of the occupied territories by Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent 7 regions occupied. Thus, given that we will continue the process of negotiations, the beginning of the return of the surrounding areas immediately change the picture, immediately cease military operations, will be fully respected ceasefire. We have already put forward a proposal to open all communications between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Thus, Armenia will have rail access to Russia through our territory. In addition, Turkey will open and all communications with Armenia. Thus, we will eliminate any potential risks associated with the beginning of military operations, and begin to build trust.
However, Armenia ignores all of our proposals. Because Armenia does not want peace. I think that it is - one of the most important issues related to the cause of unresolved conflicts, as one side wants peace, restoration of territorial integrity, and the other side does not want peace. Armenia wants things to remain unchanged, because their land is under occupation, they do not have such a big problem as millions of refugees and internally displaced persons faced by us. During negotiations, they simply take certain steps imitating nature. What to do? How to achieve greater accountability from Armenia? We have to work on these issues together with international organizations, primarily with the mediators. Armenian leadership sent a very clear message: end the occupation, begin to return the occupied territories. Azerbaijan has put forward these proposals. We even put forward a proposal that can be implemented in Nagorno-Karabakh certain social programs, because the people there are living in a very difficult situation. We can cooperate in the field of transport, energy. We are open. We offer the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, a high autonomy. However, none of our proposals are not accepted.
President Borut Pahor: Mr. President, does Russia pursue any targets in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the crisis in Georgia? What are they? How would you answer this question?
President Ilham Aliyev: For us the most important thing is to find a way to resolve this conflict. We hope that the OSCE Minsk Group will do more to create the conditions to search for solutions. We believe that if the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is settled and establish peace, it would serve the interests of all parties. So, of course, we do a lot of work to expand regional cooperation. For example, our bilateral relations with Georgia are an excellent example of regional cooperation and of how to achieve cooperation in the South Caucasus. If the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict will permit, Armenia will be able to join our projects such as energy, security, transport security. We hope that similar interests are also at the government of Russia, as each country should be interested in a climate of peace and friendship beyond its borders. Therefore, I believe that it is important to quickly find a solution to the conflict. I do not think that the policy of artificially increasing tension can bring any good neighbors. Neighbor should be interested in stability, because stability around is stability in your country and in your area. Caucasus partly belongs to Russia, and it occupies a large area. Here are three countries. At the same time, in Russia there are many autonomous republics, and between Azerbaijan and the Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation there are strong cultural ties.
The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia: I have a question for President Aliyev, and, of course, it is connected with Nagorno-Karabakh. As rightly said President Aliyev, US cooperation with Russia and France within the Minsk Group is probably a unique case. These three mediating countries - the US, Russia and France have indicated three basic principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These three core principles include the right of peoples to self-determination, non-use of force or threat of use of force and territorial integrity. Mediators urged the sides to the negotiating process to assume the obligations in connection with these three basic principles. Armenia has repeatedly assumed the obligation to fulfill these principles. I have a question for Mr. President. Is Azerbaijan ready to make a commitment, associated with the implementation of these three principles as the basis for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
President Ilham Aliyev: Of course, Azerbaijan is the most interested party in the conflict, because we want to return to our lands. We want our refugees and internally displaced persons have the right to return to their homes. Although the houses they have all been destroyed. By the way, the OSCE has twice sent a fact finding mission and evaluation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and distribute reports. The report states that all buildings, cemeteries, mosques - all destroyed. Thus, the occupied territories - it is absolutely empty land. After returning our IDPs to these lands we will have to proceed on an extensive renovation. Therefore, first of all, our people have the right to return to their land, and we are a party interested in the speedy settlement of the conflict.
The problem is why this conflict cannot find a solution. Because Armenia does not want to settle it. There is no mechanism that can force Armenia to accept the norms of international law. The resolution of a conflict must be based on international law. These rules of international law have found a clear reflection of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. The Helsinki Final Act contains quite clear definition associated with the principle of territorial integrity and self-determination. We are not against the principle of self-determination, but this principle must not violate the territorial integrity of countries. Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh Armenian army and expelled the Azeris of Nagorno-Karabakh to return to their native lands will have the right to rebuild their lives. However, this must not violate the territorial integrity of the country. The territorial integrity of a country can not be changed by force, as it tries to make Armenia. In addition, the territorial integrity of any country can not be changed without an agreement with the country. This - the basic principles. Once again I say, we are not against the basic principles of international law. However, Armenia should first of all to respect international law and comply with the UN Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied lands.
Deputy Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina: I want to touch on one question. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. These genocides do not change the past, but what is their role in terms of preventing such tragedies in the future and to achieve peace?
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you for your question. You are absolutely right. You must create an environment that was concluded from the mistakes. The international community should not remain indifferent to what is happening, that similar tragedies do not occur in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, about the Khojaly tragedy is no general information, in particular in the European public. Despite the fact that more than 10 countries have recognized the Khojaly tragedy as genocide. As a result of this genocide were killed over 600 innocent people, including 106 women, 63 children, and the only fault of these people was that they were Azerbaijanis. Unfortunately, Armenia has not yet been admitted to the commission of a war crime. They did not even apologize. They want to send international public opinion in connection with the deed of Khojaly in the wrong direction. As a result of the active Armenian lobby in Europe and the United States they were able to divert international attention from the tragedy. In connection with this tragedy did not apply sufficient information, although documented, photographed. There are testimonies of people who escaped from this genocide. There is a video, embodying women and children killed with extreme cruelty. Therefore, that such does not happen again, to those who committed these people at the beginning, at least, should apologize and admit to the crime. They must recognize that a war crime, that it does not happen again. Only then may the reconciliation. In this case, it will be easier to tolerate. I think it's possible, because we lived together. We lived together with the Armenians in peace. In the center of Baku, and today there is a renovated Armenian church. And in Shusha, Agdam Azerbaijani mosques completely destroyed. First of all, they should not have to destroy these mosques. But now they have to recognize the fallacy of the offense and apologize. After that, we, of course, make it up, because sooner or later there will be peace, and the two people will live together again.
Member of the German Bundestag: My question has to do with double standards. We can say a whole day devoted to discussion of the Crimean issue. If we talk about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, whether it can be compared with the Crimean question?
Armenia's representative: I have a question for Mr. Ilham Aliyev. A few days ago the OSCE Minsk Group, referring to Azerbaijan urged to respect its commitments on the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Addressing this appeal is not accidental, because Azerbaijan constantly violates the ceasefire at the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh and on the border with Armenia. Between January and now the ceasefire has been violated, at least 3,000 times, killing several people on both sides. My question is to Mr. Aliyev is, not whether Azerbaijan conflict exacerbates such actions? Does this not reduce the likelihood of a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the near future? Only that the moderator asked the question that we need to at least be done to resolve the conflict. I urge Azerbaijan to cease fire.
President Ilham Aliyev: First, I want to reply to questions from members of the German Parliament. Of course, one of the problems we faced at the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict was the policy of double standards. At the outset, I said that all conflicts in the post-Soviet space should be approached with the same position. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has the same value as that of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. If the territorial integrity of Ukraine receives strong support, and strongly supports Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. The UN General Assembly we, unlike Armenia, voted in favor of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Armenia has voted against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. This - the answer to the question is present here another representative of Armenia related to how the country abides by the principle of territorial integrity. They even voted against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. And this - the result of their policies, because the country is not independent. They can not make their own decisions, and always follow the other. However, double standards - it is reality. In particular, seeing the imposition of sanctions, we ask ourselves: why not apply the sanctions against Armenia? After all, they do the same thing. Why not put them against the sanctions? The answer, of course, is that the world is a powerful Armenian Diaspora, protecting Armenia from all potential and appropriate questions. Therefore, once the policy of double standards will be excluded from the international agenda, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will soon find its solution.
In response to a question from the representative of Armenia to open fire, I note that, in fact, they always shift the blame on us - it is a tactic of the Armenian side. They occupied our land violated international law, committed genocide in Khojaly, destroyed our historical and religious monuments and accuse us. The question is, what do the Armenian soldiers do in the occupied territories? What does the Armenian soldier do in Agdam? If he does not want to die, let him not go to Agdam. Let him stay in his place, in Yerevan, Gyumri, in their own country. In your country, there is plenty of room for you. In Armenia, there are not too many people. What are you doing in Agdam, Fizuli? Responding to a question about who injects tension, can give an example from the past year. Last year was a landmark in terms of activity of international mediators. In August last year, President Putin organized a meeting between me and President Sargsyan. In September, US Secretary of State Kerry held a meeting with the three of us at the NATO summit. In late October, President Hollande invited me and President Sargsyan in Paris. We had a very good and constructive meeting. Both sides - both Azerbaijan and Armenia declared public that the meeting went very smoothly, and that they will try to reduce tension on the contact line. What happened after that? Less than 10 days, as Armenia organized in the occupied territories, particularly in Agdam, large-scale exercise. According to their own reports, in the occupied territories were held exercises involving 47,000th army. Were used aircraft and helicopters. Within three days, our army suffered and did not react. Then they sent to our positions military helicopters "Mi-24" and went on the offensive. Our army was forced to open fire on the helicopters, and one of them was shot down. They used this as a pretext to accuse Azerbaijan. They make provocations, incite us, disrespect to the heads of state of France, Russia and the United States has made great efforts to ensure that we have made to ease tensions, ignore them. They think they can do anything, and will not be punished for it. This is the main reason. And now they blame us and say: do not shoot. My message to Armenia lies in the fact that it should end the occupation. As soon as it ends its occupation, we will establish peace and mutual contacts and reconciliation. The reason that this does not happen is that the Armenian soldier is in Agdam and Fizuli.
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