Answers of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to the questions of reporters before leaving for his first visit to Japan at the invitation of the Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Bina Airport - February 23, 1998

Question:Mr. President, this is your first visit to the "land of the rising sun".  What roads will be opened to the Azerbaijani-Japanese relations?”

Answer: “Many roads will be opened. Relations between Japan and Azerbaijan are gradually developing in the recent years. Japan is interested in Azerbaijan, and we are very keen to have close relations with a country like Japan which is developed in all the fields, especially in economiy. We are already establishing these relations. We have already received authoritative representatives of the Japanese government several times. Some Japanese companies are functioning in Azerbaijan. Finally, the Prime Minister of Japan has officially invited me, I accepted the invitation and carry out this visit. There, we shall sign a number of interstate and intergovernmental agreements and there will be a lot of meetings. We shall hold meetings and talks with the Prime Minister and the Emperor. There is a bicameral parliament and there will be a meeting with the both chambers. Many companies have shown great interest, came to me asking to meet them. The program is very tight and includes many meetings. I believe that these are necessary, because we need to make sure that Azerbaijan is known. It can be said that Azerbaijan was not known in Japan until the recent years. We have to introduce Azerbaijan, both from a politico-economic point of view and also from the point of view of its geopolitical position. I hope that during this visit, we shall achieve this.”

Question: “Mr. President, why oil contracts are not going be signed there?”

Answer: You know probably that there is a mistake here. That is, we did not suppose to sign oil contracts there. Some of the companies are making excessive attempts for it. The Japanese company "Itochu" is involved in one or two contracts in the oil sector of Azerbaijan. There is the company "Mitsui" which wants to get a share in one of our contracts. But we shall adjust all this, there is no problem.”

Question: “Mr. President, when you can approve the concrete negotiations of the Azerbaijani working group with the countries engaged in the transition of the Caspian oil? In general, what is your attitude to the regional pipeline system?”

Answer: “You know, we cooperate with the European Union in this regard. I sent a letter to the heads of the states and governments of many countries in the Asian and European regions, to participate in the Euro-Asian transport corridor, yesterday. It was done on the initiative of the European Commission and, in particular, Mr. Van Den Broek. We agreed with him I sent a letter, and in the second half of May here, in Azerbaijan, we expect a meeting of heads of states and governments, or delegations of those countries which lie on this road, from the north of Europe to China and Japan. We are talking about a particular work on the recovery of the "Silk Road." By the way, Japan is very interested in this issue and it occupies on a very important place in the doctrine of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Hashimoto. Thus, we are almost concerned in this issue.

I should tell you a point on the pipelines that on the first day of this month Istanbul will host a meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. This meeting will be held on the issue of laying the pipelines from the Central Asia and the Caspian Sea to Europe. It is the initiative of Turkey. I supported this initiative, when I was in Istanbul, and such a meeting will be held in March 1.”

Question:Who will represent Azerbaijan in that meeting?”

Answer: “Deputy Foreign Minister, Azimov.  Goodbye.”

Historical backgrounds