Azerbaijan International

September 1993 (1.3)
Pages 27, 24

Heydar Aliyev

When Elchibey Left - What Happened?
July 6, 1993

On June 17th, Azerbaijan's President Abulfaz Elchibey left the capital of Baku for Nakhchivan - an Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. Over the ensuing days, Aliyev who had been chosen Chairman of the Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet took on the responsibilities of Presidency. Here is Mr. Aliyev's explanation of the events that led up to this situation.

(Interviewed on television)

Telen: Mr. Aliyev, your coming into power has been described as unconstitutional by many observers. In your opinion, are there any aims in politics for which one can sacrifce the law? And the second question follows: what is the fate of President Abulfaz Elchibey himself? What is happening to him now and what are his prospects? Has he accepted his resignation?

First of all, I must say that I do not think that my coming into the post I am now occupying was unconstitutional. On June 15th, upon the recommendation of many Deputies in Parliament, including President Abulfaz Elchibey himself...I was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan and it was a very constitutional decision.

You know that a few days before that the Chairman of Supreme Soviet, Isa Gambarov, resigned. He was no longer fulflling the Chairman's duties. Therefore, I became the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan. So this was a very conditional decision.

Second, I did not come into power. I was invited. I was called in. They were insistently trying to persuade me. A few days after the Gandja events, representatives of various groups of the Azerbaijan population, intelligentsia and respectable aksakals [an elder or respectable person] approached me. Azerbaijan's President Elchibey also insistently asked me. Three times - June 7th, 8th, and 9th - he sent a special plane to Nakhichevan and insistently asked me in telephone conversations to take advantage of the situation and come to Baku. I refused on the 7th and 8th, and fnally, on June 9th, sensing a further intensifcation of the situation, I accepted the invitation and came to Baku.

There, together with Abulfaz Elchibey and other political fgures, I took part in resolving a tense situation, and on June 25th, I was elected Chairman of Parliament. There is nothing unconstitutional or illegal in this.

Regarding the fact that on June 24th I was entrusted with Presidential duties. It is known that on the night of June 17th, President Elchibey secretly left Baku by air and that we were looking for him the whole night. He didn't warn anyone including me despite the fact that an hour before he left Baku we were together.

Eventually, we learned in the early morning that his airplane had landed in Nakhichevan, and members of the People's Front had taken Elchibey to the mountain village of Kalaki where he still is.

Think for yourselves - between June 18th-24th, I was in constant negotiation over the telephone with Abulfaz Elchibey. On my initiative, a large group of prominent representatives of the intelligentsia went there - academicians, professors, writers, and aksakals led by the President of the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences. They held a meeting with him and they tried to convince him to return to Baku. I invited him repeatedly. He did not accept our invitation, he did not agree with this, and has remained in the Kalaki village.

He himself issued a decree endowing the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet with almost all Presidential duties. In his decree, he only kept for himself the issue of citizenship and signature of laws. As for all other duties, he passed them over to the Chairman of Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan.

At the same time, the Azerbaijan Parliament was discussing this situation (continuously) for a few days on end. Parliament members repeatedly insisted that I endorse these responsibilities. I did not agree, but Abulfaz Elchibey himself issued this decree and the Republic was almost out of control, as it were, because the President was not there. There was no Premier, because he had resigned some time earlier. So, it was just me who remained. Many matters need to be resolved using presidential powers. It was under these circumstances that I assumed these duties. I repeat that I did not strive to achieve this. I do not want this. If Elchibey returned here today, he could perform his Presidential duties.

That is why I believe that the question itself is unfounded. As for the second question--what will happen to Elchibey--I can say that he continues to reside in the village of Kalaki and is being guarded by a group of armed individuals belonging to the People's Front. As far as I know, he is there and is not doing anything. Perhaps he is resting or doing something. I do not know.

Yakhayev: You had been critical of Elchibey's team and Elchibey himself especially in regard to their policy course. What was Elchibey hoping for by inviting you to become Chairman of the Republic's Supreme Soviet, and what were your motivations in agreeing to this step?

Well, I do not think that your formulation of the question is quite correct. I was not so harshly opposed to Elchibey and, in general, I was not opposed to him. I simply resided in Nakhichevan and was simply performing the duties of Chairman of the Supreme Majlis.

I had infrequent telephone conversations with Abulfaz Elchibey. Of course, as he did not pay enough attention to the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, which has been and remains in a very diffcult situation due to the blockade. Nor did he pay the necessary attention to me as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of what is, after all, an Autonomous Republic. I was the Chairman of the Supreme Majlis of an Autonomous Republic. So our relations could really be described in this way and not as some kind of harsh confrontation.

I frst met Elchibey in February of this year. I had never met him prior to that, and was not personally acquainted with him. However, I arrived in Baku in connection with the death of my older brother. I had a meeting with Elchibey and we discussed many matters. We had a mutual understanding on many issues. I gave him my advice and expressed my wishes and recommendations. It was up to him whether or not he made use of them. After this, our relations were normal.

As to what Elchibey's calculations were in extending the invitation to me, one needs to proceed from the fact that the frst formulation of the question to the effect that there was a sharp confrontation between us is not right.

Well, he probably calculated - and when he telephoned me he said that he understood - perhaps he had understood this earlier, but had not wanted to admit it and when the situation in Azerbaijan became really bad, and I've already said that from many regions and from representatives of many sections of the population, the cry was heard that we must invite Aliyev - and Elchibey evidently also came around to this idea.

Skryabin: Recently in the press, especially the foreign press, there has been quite a lot of speculation...about mutual relations between you and Surat Huseynov...What is your view of the notion that some sort of previous understanding on all these events that have occurred in Azerbaijan existed between you and the Premier of Azerbaijan?

I can clarify this and it is very necessary to do so. First, I never knew Surat Huseynov. I had never even set eyes on him. And that, by the way, despite the fact that - as I now learn - Surat Huseynov is a national hero of Azerbaijan, and was a Deputy Premier of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and was the authorized Representative of the President of Azerbaijan in Karabakh. He hardly ever, as far as I know, appeared on television, and since I lived in Nakhichevan, which as you know, is geographically isolated in a corner of Azerbaijan, I never saw him on television and didn't know him from Adam. The more so as I never had anything to do with him.

When, on June 4th, those events happened, I was again unclear and I again did not know what had happened; and then when I arrived in Baku on 9th June, I began to hear about him, again I didn't know him. Then I - before going to Gandja on June 13th - I rang him up, we had a telephone conversation, and on the 13th, I arrived in Gandja and met him for the frst time. Consequently, there can be no question of any collusion or friendly relations between us. There was no pact, there was no (prior) friendship between us, and the fact that Surat Huseynov came to Baku and became Premier of Azerbaijan is also a logical result of everything that happened.

From Azerbaijan International (7.4) Winter 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.

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