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Abdullah Gul: Nowadays occupation of a country's lands cannot last long

13 August 2010 [13:57] - TODAY.AZ
Turkish President Abdullah Gul will visit Azerbaijan on August 16. On the eve of his visit, President Gul gave an interview to APA.
Turkish-Azerbaijani relations are based on brotherhood. Your Excellency attaches great attention to Azerbaijan and keeps friendly relations with the President of Azerbaijan. What would you like to say about the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations on the eve of your visit?

As a president, I made my first foreign visit to Azerbaijan. Only this fact is a good sign of my attention to Azerbaijan and love for our Azerbaijani brothers. We are regularly meeting with President Ilham Aliyev. We discuss the relations between our countries and exchange views on the regional situation. There is an undeniable truth that we are the parts of one nation. This nation exists like different countries, but all of people of those countries are our brothers and compatriots. We want to see our brothers in richness and welfare. I attach great attention to the Turkic countries within this framework. Thank to them for the same attention to us. Their sorrow is our sorrow and their happiness is our happiness. It was like that throughout the history.

Thanks to Allah, the world has changed, and we have independent countries today. We have to develop our friendship and brotherhood, to assist each other to solve the problems and to be proud of our achievements. I visited Nakhchivan last year. We established the Turkic Council in Nakhchivan together with the leaders of other Turkic countries. His Excellency Aliyev hosted us there. We had a multilateral meeting there. We seek an opportunity to visit Baku because we shouldn’t visit each other once a year or several years. We have to create opportunities to meet for several times a year. We will meet at the UN General Assembly in September and we would like to exchange view on the regional issues before visiting New York. Peace and stability in the Caucasus is the most important problem of the region. We considered it necessary to visit Baku to strengthen our bilateral relations and to exchange views on the solution of regional problems as well.

You shook stones in the region making important breakthrough in September, 2008. The main thesis is that existing status-quo will complicate the solution of Nagorno Karabakh problem. What a phase are your initiatives now? Will you make another breakthrough after the consultations in Baku?

In fact, all of these events can happen. I am speaking very openly: I have worked hard over this problem since my presidency because I believe that this status-quo in the Caucasus is not in favor of anyone – Azerbaijan, Turkey or Armenia. The world is changing and we need to solve the problems. If we freeze the problems, they can arise again. What is the duty of the authorities? They have to solve the problems. There are UN resolutions. The Minsk Group is doing serious efforts, but unfortunately it couldn’t achieve concrete results.h18-20 years have passed since the occupation. Turkey was the first to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan. Then we recognized Armenia. The territorial integrity of every country should be respected in the contemporary world system. Armenia can establish good relations with its neighbors and reach access to sea and join the communication systems. Turkey is a great country. While reaching “zero problem” in the relations with our neighbors, it is not good to have problems with Armenia. Therefore fair solution of the regional problems is in favor of all of us. We would like that the Minsk Group approaches the solution of the problem, but now the Minsk Group’s visits to the regions are characterized among the people as the “tourist travels”. Therefore we need new breakthroughs. I put forward this initiative in 2008. First I visited Yerevan and then Sargsyan visited Turkey. We informed President Ilham Aliyev about the details of these processes. Putin and Medvedev also participated in these processes. Russia is an important country in the solution of this problem. Therefore we had detailed consultations around these issues. Such heavy problems can not be solved under the pressure of one country. These problems can be solved by the serious efforts of the interested and regional countries. I took it into consideration and made this breakthrough and as you noted the stones were shaken. It was an important issue, but we couldn’t reach long distance. There were wrong understandings in Azerbaijan, in Armenia and in Turkey as well. If the difficult issues are solved easily they will not have a chronic character. I address all leaders: we will not stay put and we will work unceasingly for the solution of the problem. We have to work insistently. I will discuss these issues with President Ilham Aliyev during my visit. I believe it will be a useful visit from this point of view.

You mention the Russia’s role in establishing the peace in the region. You had a dialogue with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. There have been reports about the development of military relations between Russia and Armenia recently. On the other hand, there is a question of sale of Russian missiles to Azerbaijan. What would you like to say about that?

I don’t think that these processes will prevent the solution of the problem. I know that Medvedev, Putin, Aliyev and Sargsyan don’t believe that the status-quo will go on. They also want the issue to be solved. During the “cold war”, the conflicts were in favor of some countries. But now there is different situation. Everyone makes serious efforts for the solution of the problem. Everyone should work hard to find the optimal point because the problem gets very chronic character. I am hopeful for stability in the Caucasus. Why not? These issues can be solved through diplomacy and the discussions. Nowadays occupation of a country’s lands by another one cannot last long. If the problems are not solved there can be uncontrolled problems. Therefore we need to work insistently to solve the issue. We need “silent diplomacy”. The misunderstanding of the issue created problems in Azerbaijan, in Armenia and in Turkey. Now we have reached the period of silent, but resolute diplomacy.

On July 30, 2007, you passed a decision to abolish visa regime for the citizens of Azerbaijan traveling to Turkey. But the visa problem between the two brotherly countries has not been solved. Will you decisively bring the solution of the visa issue to the agenda?

We could not accept the visa travel with the brotherly countries while we abolished visas with other countries. Therefore, when I was Foreign Minister I abolished the visa travel for our brothers from Turkic-speaking countries. We wish it to be mutual. Our foreign ministers are holding discussions about it. We also respect Azerbaijan’s assessments in this field. But if this issue is solved, we will be pleased.

Turkey’s power is backed by free market economy and multi-party democracy. Free Turkish media has a great role in the democratization. What would you like to recommend to Azerbaijan viewing from Turkey’s democratic experience?

Turkey is the founding member of the Council of Europe. To be the member of the Council is to accept its principles and realize them in your country. The Council of Europe has been established basing on the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. But the member states can not always fulfill these standards on the equal level. Before, we also had shortcomings. Though we were founding member of the Council of Europe, we had been under monitoring by 2004. We got rid of the monitoring by the reforms and a Turkish parliamentarian was elected chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Of course, the countries getting democracy late have shortcomings in these issues. Accepting the shortcomings does not cast shadow on these countries. Turkey still has some shortcomings. There are spheres in Turkey, where we should raise the standards of law and democracy. Countries do not become perfect soon after gaining independence and democracy. It is realized step-by-step. Of course, we will encourage the fraternal countries to raise their standards of democracy.

The more democracy develops, the healthier the structures of the countries are. I was parliamentarian at the Council of Europe for ten years and attached great importance to the deepening of the democracy in my country. During my activity as Minister, Prime Minister and President, I have done my best for the deepening of the democracy in Turkey and will continue doing so. I want to underline that deepening of the democracy in the fraternal countries needs time. If the late President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and incumbent President Ilham Aliyev had not had these targets, they would not have made the country the member of the Council of Europe. The role of media in the democracy is very important. Without media we will be unaware of everything. I believe that as time passes, free media will strengthen and democracy will deepen in Azerbaijan.

Will you have new initiatives on the peace issues in the region in autumn or will the “silent diplomacy” continue?

Of course, “silent diplomacy” will continue. We are implementing very important projects. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Erzurum and Baku-Tbilisi-Kars projects. We will inaugurate Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad in 2012. This railroad unites three countries. We have border with Nakhchivan – this is our border with Azerbaijan. We unite the highways from Europe to Georgia through the Black Sea. Road is being constructed between Batum and Tbilisi. The road leading from Tbilisi to Ganja is being extended. All this unite us more. Azerbaijan has splendid future. Every time when I visit Baku I see it more developed, and I am proud of it. All these are the achievements of Honorable President Ilham Aliyev. During my previous visit I traveled to Ganja and liked it very much. This time there will be an opportunity to visit Shaki.

Azerbaijan has splendid future. We want Karabakh problem to be solved by political and diplomatic ways. We will do our best for it. The world will not accept the continuation of the occupation of the brotherly country’s territories, either. There are the decisions of the UN. First of all Karabakh problem must be solved so that Armenia can establish normal relations with the region. We are concerned over the state of one million refugees. Everybody should put himself in other’s shoes. These are national issues. Parties should not use these issues for their interests. In this issue Azerbaijan should trust in Ilham Aliyev, Turkey in me, and Armenia in Sargsyan. Honorable Medvedev and Obama should give more support to this issue. I hope for the solution of these issues. I send my regards to my Azerbaijani brothers.


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