Spring 2001 (9.1)
Key West Talks
Peaceful Resolution to the Karabakh Conflict
by Azerbaijan's President, Heydar Aliyev and Armenia's President,
Little White House, Key West, Florida, April 3, 2001
The introductory remarks
were made by U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, followed
by speeches by Aliyev and Kocharian.
It is a great pleasure to open this conference and to welcome
our distinguished guests, the President of Azerbaijan and the
President of Armenia, and our distinguished co-chairs from the
Russian Federation and from France. It is a great pleasure for
me, on behalf of President Bush, to welcome all here.
Heydar Aliyev on his first official State Visit to the White
House in Washington, D.C. in August 1997. Behind Aliyev is Rauf
Huseinov, advisor to the President.
This is a very important meeting. It is a step in a process toward
reconciliation and peace in the region. We are pleased to have
the opportunity to host this meeting in this very historic place
known as the Little White House. It was used first by President
Truman, but many other American presidents have used this place.
It is a quiet place, it is a simple place, it is a humble place,
but it is a place where great things have happened over the course
of America's history for the last 50 or 60 years. It is a place
where many world leaders have assembled, and we are pleased to
have these world leaders with us here today as we seek a solution
to this crisis, which has bedeviled the region for too long.
So a great pleasure to welcome the two presidents and my co-chair
colleagues and our distinguished ambassador [Carey Cavanaugh]
who has done such a terrific job in helping in this effort. I
would now like to begin the conference by asking President Aliyev
for his comments.
Dear U.S. Secretary of State Powell, Dear OSCE Secretary General
Kubish, Dear Minsk Conference Co-chairs, Dear Participants, Dear
Media Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me express my appreciation to you, Mr. Secretary
of State, for your invitation to visit the United States of America.
I express my gratitude to the U.S. Administration, to the Key
West authorities and to all the organizers of this meeting for
their hospitality and excellent working conditions.
The uniqueness of this meeting is characterized by the fact that
for the first time in the history of the OSCE Minsk Group [the
Organization of Security and Cooperation of Europe] we are discussing
the issues in a different format. Together the OSCE Minsk Group
Co-Chairs [U.S., France and Russia] along with the Presidents
of Armenia and Azerbaijan and other participants plan to discuss
the peaceful resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh
Regretfully, such a format has never been used in our meetings
in the past. Maybe that's one of the reasons why we have failed
to reach any success up until now. I hope that the current meeting
will play a positive role in the resolution of this conflict,
which has been going on for more than 12 years.
The history of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh military
conflict is quite well known to the international community.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is one of the
world's conflicts that has been going on for a very long time.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly speak
about it and share my thoughts with you on the main obstacles
in settling the conflict.
Above: Arrival of President
Aliyev to the United States on his official visit to Washington,
D.C., in 1997.
It is well known that this conflict originated from Armenia's
territorial claims against Azerbaijan when it tried to seize
and annex Nagorno-Karabakh, an indigenous part of Azerbaijan.
This took place in 1988, when Armenia and Azerbaijan still were
sister republics within the Soviet Union. However, as a result
of the unjust position of the Soviet leadership toward Azerbaijan,
and possibly because of their unwillingness to prevent the conflict,
it grew and escalated into war.
I would like to emphasize that back in 1921 the Government of
Azerbaijan granted the status of Autonomous Region to the Nagorno-Karabakh
region of Azerbaijan, and the region enjoyed all the rights of
autonomy. Thus, there were no objective reasons whatsoever for
the eruption of this conflict. At the moment when the conflict
started, 185,000 people were living in Nagorno-Karabakh. Of these,
75 percent were Armenians and 25 percent were Azerbaijanis.
Armenia, striving to realize its territorial claims against the
neighboring country of Azerbaijan, provoked separatist and terrorist
forces in Nagorno-Karabakh into an armed confrontation. Later
Armenia itself got involved with military aggression against
Nagorno-Karabakh is under the military control of separatists
and of Armenian armed forces, which have carried out ethnic cleansing
by forcibly expelling the entire Azerbaijani population of 50,000.
This process was characterized by murders and violence. And even
genocide was carried out against the Azerbaijani population in
the town of Khojali [in 1992].
After occupying Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian armed forces escalated
their military operations beyond the borders of the Nagorno-Karabakh
region and additionally occupied seven large administrative regions
Thus, 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan had been occupied
by the year 1993, and at present continues to remain under the
occupation of the Armenian armed forces. Everything on that territory
has been destroyed, looted, razed to the earth. More than 900
settlements - both small and large, nearly 600 schools, 250 healthcare
institutions, and all museums, historical and cultural monuments
have been destroyed.
During the conflict 30,000 Azerbaijani citizens perished, more
than 200,000 were wounded and maimed, and thousands were taken
prisoner or became hostages and are still missing. About a million
Azerbaijanis - one out of every eight citizens of the country
- have been forced off their land and have been living in tents
under unbearable hardships already for nine years. A new generation
has spent their entire lives in tents.
It is hard to find any other parallel situation in the world,
when one state has occupied another state's territory, carried
out ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, while the world community
silently looks on as observers. Azerbaijan's justified demands
to curb the aggressor have not been given support.
Nine years ago, on March 24, 1992, during its summit in Helsinki,
the Council of Ministers of the OSCE decided to create a Minsk
Group that would be responsible for reaching a comprehensive
settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Thus, an international body was established to deal with resolving
this conflict. This decision, which defined the mandate of the
Minsk Conference and a framework for a negotiations process,
was extremely important.
Several times in 1993 the UN Security Council debated the issue
of the Armenian armed occupation of Azerbaijani territories.
Four resolutions were adopted: No. 822 (April 30), No. 853 (July
29), No. 874 (October 14), and No. 884 (November 11).
In these resolutions the UN Security Council resolutely demanded
the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed
forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as
for creating conditions for the return of refugees and internally
displaced people (IDPs) to their homes and native lands. The
United Nations absolutely supported sovereignty and territorial
integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and reaffirmed the Nagorno-Karabakh
region as a part of Azerbaijan. The Security Council also supported
the mediating role of the OSCE Minsk Group.
However, all these resolutions have not been implemented and
the UN Security Council itself has not bothered to follow up
to enforce its own decisions.
In December of 1994, during the OSCE Summit in Budapest, a decision
was made to intensify the activities of the OSCE regarding the
Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The OSCE heads
of state defined the step-by-step nature of the settlement and
instructed the OSCE Minsk Conference co-chairs to work out an
agreement for the cessation of the armed conflict. The agreement
envisaged the elimination of the main consequences of the conflict
for all parties, and it was supposed to become the basis for
convening the Minsk Conference. A decision was also made to deploy
multi-national peacekeeping OSCE forces to the conflict zone.
At the OSCE Summit in Lisbon in December 1996, a basic formula
for the settlement of the conflict was defined. All the OSCE
member-states, with the exception of the Republic of Armenia,
supported three main principles of the settlement, which (1)
ensured the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
(2) granting the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan
to the Nagorno-Karabakh, with (3) security guarantees for the
Thus, the international community has defined the legal basis
for settlement, establishing the framework for negotiations and
identifying the tasks of the mediators.
Since the OSCE Summit in Lisbon, Russia, the U.S., and France
- the three largest nations in the world - have become the Minsk
Group co-chairs. We placed high expectations on them, counted
on their efforts to achieve a resolution of the conflict, restore
territorial integrity of Azer-baijan, and return our refugees
to their homes. But, unfortunately, up until now it hasn't happened.
Armenia has not carried out the decisions made by the United
Nations and the OSCE.
The Minsk Group co-chairs have put forward three proposals on
the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The first proposal, submitted June 1997, consisted of a "Package
Solution" to the conflict. The second, October 1997, was
based on a "Step-by-Step Solution". In November 1998,
the co-chairs introduced a new, third proposal, based on what
they called "Common State".
Azerbaijan accepted the first two proposals, despite the fact
that some of their articles contradicted the norms and principles
of international law, and encroached upon the principle of the
territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. But even under these circumstances,
Armenia refused to accept those proposals and held to a clearly
We did not accept the proposal of the co-chairs regarding "Common
State". The term "common state", which has no
basis in international law, implies that Nagorno-Karabakh is
an independent state and territorial entity, and grants it, equally
with Azerbaijan, the status of the subject of the "common
state". This proposal fully contradicts the norms and principles
of international law, deprives Azerbaijan of a part of its own
territory and actually legitimizes Armenian aggression against
We are convinced that the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,
guided by the principles of international law, must exert more
effective influence over the negotiation process, promoting a
settlement to the conflict, the restoration of Azerbaijan's territorial
integrity and the return of refugees to their homes as soon as
possible. Nagorno-Karabakh is an inalienable part of Azerbaijan
and can be granted a high degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan.
Unfortunately, the co-chairs have been mainly busy with mediating,
without exerting the necessary influence over the process of
negotiations in compliance with the norms of international law.
Our hopes for the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, represented
by Russia, U.S. and France, have not brought about the expected
Since April 1999, upon the initiative of the U.S. Administration,
face-to-face meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan
were initiated, the first one taking place in Washington, D.C.
Since then we have had numerous meetings with President Kocharian
in Geneva, Moscow, Istanbul, Paris, Minsk [Belarus], Davos [Switzerland],
Yalta [Ukraine], and also on the border between our countries.
During our dialogue with the President of Armenia, we were mainly
engaged in a search for mutually acceptable compromises for the
peaceful resolution of the conflict and for establishing a lasting
peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I would like to emphasize
that by the end of 1999, we were close to achieving a compromise.
But soon afterward, Armenia renounced the agreement it had reached.
During these difficult negotiations, the Armenian side has always
taken a tough and unconstructive position. We cannot come to
an agreement because the position of the Armenian side at these
talks is based on the presumption that having occupied 20 percent
of Azerbaijani territory, it has an advantage. By every means,
Armenia has strived to seize part of the territory of Azerbaijan,
annex it, or gain the status of independence for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Regretfully, the meetings between the two Presidents have led
the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to hold a "wait and see"
position, reducing their activities to the principle of "whatever
the Presidents agree upon, will be acceptable to the OSCE".
We, on the other hand, consider that the meetings of the Presidents
are not a substitute for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs' activities.
On the contrary, they complement one another and should ensure
that the negotiation process progresses into a final resolution
of the conflict.
In compliance with the norms and principles of international
law and the UN Charter, the territorial integrity, inviolability
of frontiers of every independent state, as members of the United
Nations, should be respected by all, especially by the OSCE,
which has undertaken the responsibility for the resolution of
this conflict. The OSCE and its Minsk Group must strongly adhere
to this principle and by all means promote its strict observance.
However, the current situation in the peace process creates a
dangerous precedent in international relations. Instead of respecting
the norms and principles of international law and rigorously
enforcing them, the indecisiveness on the part of international
community is what we witness. Fundamental norms and principles
of international law such as territorial integrity and inviolability
of borders are being questioned, thus damaging the basis for
decades - old international practice and international law -
in order to satisfy 100,000 Armenians who live in the Nagorno-Karabakh
region of Azerbaijan. Obviously, peace, stability, and security
achieved as a result of acceptance of military aggression, can
be neither strong nor lasting.
Having described the history of the current situation in the
Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I declare that
Azerbaijan remains committed to peace and upholding the cease-fire
that was established in May 1994. We will continue to make further
efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive and peaceful resolution
of the conflict.
At the same time, I think all that I have just told you gives
you an opportunity to realize the difficult situation we have
found ourselves in. Therefore, I appeal to Russia, the U.S. and
France, as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, to intensify their
activities in order to put an end to this military conflict and
to establish a lasting peace.
There is no need to prove that Azerbaijan, with 20 percent of
its territory under occupation, and hundreds of thousands of
citizens living in tents, is most interested in ending this conflict
and achieving peace. It is absolutely clear that peace between
Armenia and Azerbaijan will have an enormous impact on stability
and security throughout the entire Southern Caucasus.
We have come to this meeting with great expectations and we count
on the active efforts by Russia, the U.S. and France - the co-chairs
of the OSCE Minsk Group - and also on the constructive position
of the Republic of Armenia.
Thank you for your attention.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell opened the remarks, introduced
Armenian President Robert Kocharian.
Distinguished Secretary of State, distinguished co-chairs, distinguished
ladies and gentlemen. Let me at the very outset express my gratitude
to the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, who have made it possible
for us as intermediaries and mediators involved in this process
to gather and once again discuss the means and ways to resolve
this protracted conflict. And, certainly, I am very thankful
to the U.S., which is kind enough to host and provide this site
for this round of talks here.
I am sure most of you in this room, except perhaps some correspondents
here, are well aware of both the history of this conflict and
its current status. You know it in depth and detail; there is
no need for me once again to go back over it or to come up with
any analysis at this time.
I have not come so many miles to Florida to carry out a propaganda
campaign here or to be a tutor to co-chairs. No, I have come
here to work constructively to seek settlement.
And that is the end of my statement. Thank you very much.
(9.1) Spring 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.
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