From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the chairman of the House of Councilors of the Japanese Parliament Juro Saito - Tokyo, February 26, 1998

Mr. Chairman,

Messrs. members of the House of Councilors,

I greet all of you and express my gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality. I am very happy to see you today. I am very pleased of my successful visit to Japan.

I express my gratitude to you for your kind words about the independent Azerbaijan which has gained reputation in the international community, about our nation, about the development of Japanese-Azerbaijani relations, and for the words about me personally. I am very pleased of the official visit to Japan at the invitation of Prime Minister Mr. Hashimoto and want to stress the importance of this visit in the further expansion of relations and cooperation between our two countries and peoples. I attach special importance to our meetings with His Majesty Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Hashimoto. I appreciate my other numerous meetings, negotiations held in the parliament and the meeting with the presidents of the Chambers of the Parliament of Japan. I believe that the documents which we have signed are the most successful results of my official visit which open a new stage in the development of the Azerbaijani-Japanese cooperation and are of particular importance. I express my pleasure with the fact that Japan is very interested in the close involvement of the Japanese companies in the revival of the economy of the independent Azerbaijani Republic. «Itochu» and «Mitsui» companies have a certain share in the implementation of agreements on joint oil developments in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. I am pleased that six representative offices of the Japanese companies function in Baku.

I appreciate that Japan attaches great importance to the revival of the «Great Silk Road», the idea suggested by Prime Minister Hashimoto for the development of comprehensive relations with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. With the participation of 33 countries located on this road stretching from Asia to Europe and with the participation of the European Union Baku will host an international conference in the May of this year. If we get together and solve many important questions, we can all benefit from the «Great Silk Road». The Trans-European-Asian corridor has great prospects. Through this active corridor a huge amount of cargo is daily carried from Asia to Europe and from Europe to Asia. Azerbaijan plays an important role in the further revival of that corridor.

In the field of building a legal, democratic, secular state and implementation of reforms Azerbaijan has achieved great progress by choosing the way of market relations. I declare that our republic is open to entrepreneurs of the world and creates all conditions for the activity of foreign companies. Our republic has established close links with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Considerable work has been done in the sphere of ‚Äč‚Äčestablishment of close relations between the European Union and the Azerbaijani economy.

However, we have also problems in Azerbaijan. One of the most difficult and complicated problems is the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As you know, this conflict began in 1988. Since Armenia conducts a military aggression against Azerbaijan. As a result, 20 percent of the territory of our country has been occupied and more than a million of our citizens have been expelled from their homeland and live in difficult conditions in tents. I would like to present to you the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the Mountainous Garabagh on the map. In order to solve this conflict peacefully three important principles have been adopted at the Lisbon Summit of OSCE. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group of OSCE, Russia, USA and France have made some proposals. Azerbaijan makes great efforts for the solution of the conflict peacefully on the proposals made by the co-chairs. But the Armenian side still refuses to accept the proposals. They want Garabagh to be independent, but we cannot allow it, because it addicts to the international law. We are ready to grant the status of autonomy to the Mountainous Garbagh within Azerbaijan. I want to draw to your attention to the necessity of resolving the conflict peacefully and restoration of peace and security in the region. I want to express my confidence that the Japanese government and the parliament will pay more attention to the issue of cessation of the aggression. Once more I express my gratitude for your hospitality and attention.