ZBIGNEW BZHEZINSKI: “HEYDAR ALIYEV IS POLITICALLY A STRONG, LOGIC, WISE POLITICIAN, IN A WORD, AN INDELIBLE LEADER”
I met President Heydar Aliyev for the first time in early 1990 during my first visit to the region. I was a special envoy sent to him by President Clinton. In that time, President Heydar Aliyev was under the pressure of Russia not to take part in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan project and fully base on the pipeline Baku-Novorossiysk.
I visited Baku with my spouse. We met President Heydar Aliyev in midday. I was inpatient, because I had to hand over to the Azerbaijan President special message and a letter from the US President. After the meeting, we partied. In the evening, I had, say, long and historically important discussions with President Heydar Aliyev. We talked not only the pipeline, but also on the President’s adherence to the US strategic obligations in the Caucasus and Caspian basin. It was a very useful discussion, because it promoted to bring light on the long-term obligations connected with the both economic and strategic significance for both countries.
As to the personal features of Heydar Aliyev, I would say that my wife likes him. It is an important barometer fore me. It seems he also likes her. I have no any objection, and I deem it as a sound token. Heydar Aliyev is politically a strong, logic, wise politician, in a word, an indelible leader.
In the preliminary stage, the US and Azerbaijan had to overcome a number of difficulties. None of us could eliminate these difficulties. We could not develop full strategic relations with Azerbaijan yet. It is, on one hand, is connected with the Congress, in particular, with the existence of opposition to the Nagorno Karabakh issue, existence of the Armenian electorate in America, on the other hand, with our interests to establish good relations with Russia. Azerbaijan also is facing difficulties - a lot should be done for democratization of the society. You have already done advances in this direction. If to balance, I think, we have made significant advances in elimination of the difficulties between the US-Azerbaijan relations.
Heydar Aliyev, perhaps, has done very positive deeds to strengthen Azerbaijan’s position on the international arena. Now, however, nobody can evaluate how efficient were his contributions to the establishment of political stability. As the political system of Azerbaijan is in the preliminary development phase, it cannot be fully regarded and the future will show it.
I hope, President Heydar Aliyev, who is going to celebrate his jubilee recently, will live long and successfully. I have no doubt that President Heydar Aliyev, being an experienced politician and watching transition problems of the Soviet Union, knows the ways of stable and efficient ensuring of this transition”.
Washington, May 2003