From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting with the chairman of the Japanese House of Representatives Ito Soichiro, Tokyo, February 26, 1998

Mr. Soichiro,

I am pleased of my official visit to the «Land of the Rising Sun» at the invitation of the Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto. Once more, I express my gratitude for your attention and hospitality.

Your beautiful country and the negotiations I held here made a great impression on me. I express my pleasure with the comprehensive information about that Azerbaijan has won a good reputation among the world countries in the recent years. The independent Republic of Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the continuous strengthening of cooperation with Japan which is one of the developed countries of the world. Azerbaijan has conducted many significant reforms in building of a legal, democratic and secular state.

To make the relations with the world community closer is very important for us. Twenty authoritative companies from twelve countries of the world take an active part in the implementation of the signed contract on joint oil developments in the deposits in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. I express my satisfaction with the activity of «Itochu» and «Mitsui» companies in this field.

There are large opportunities for establishing the relations with Japan in all the spheres in Azerbaijan which has chosen the road of the market economy. There are also large opportunities for the Japanese companies in Azerbaijan which is rich energy and raw material resources. Once more I express my satisfaction in connection with the opening of representatives of six Japanese companies in Azerbaijan. My meetings with His Majesty Emperor Akihito, Prime Minister Hashimoto and many others have produced positive results. My visit to the «Land of the Rising Sun» will open a new phase in the continuous development of cooperation between Japan and Azerbaijan. I would like to draw your attention to the importance of expanding the relations between the Japanese and Azerbaijani parliaments more. I highly appreciate the work of the founded association and the group and wish to establish strong relations in all the fields for the revival of their activity.

You know that the most painful problem of our independent republic is the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Twenty percent of our territories has been occupied and over one million people have been expelled from their homes and live now in difficult conditions in tents. Have a look, I shall show to you the grave consequences of Armenian military aggression on the map. With the help of its diaspora Armenia receives moral, economic, political and military support from America, Europe and Russia. Making its military forces stronger the aggressor threatens not only Azerbaijan, but also all the countries of our region. The Republic of Azerbaijan wants to solve the conflict with Armenia peacefully. In the May of 1994, we managed to stop the war and achieved a ceasefire. Within the Minsk Group of OSCE we hold peace negotiations, 53 countries approved the principles of just solution of the conflict at the Lisbon Summit of OSCE in 1996. Thus, there established a legal and just foundation supported by the countries of the world and international organizations for the peaceful solution of the conflict. The co-chairs of Minsk Group of OSCE, Russia, the USA and France intensively worked on it, prepared new proposals on solution of the conflict in two stages and introduced them to the sides. We want the liberation of the Azerbaijani lands occupied by the Armenian military forces and return of more than one million people to their homes who now live in critical conditions. The Azerbaijani people highly appreciate the decision of Japan which criticize this aggression and supports the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.