From the conversation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the tete-a-tete meeting with His Majesty Emperor of Japan Akihito - the Imperial Palace, February 25, 1998

His Majesty Akihito: I warmly welcome the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and I am very pleased to meet you.

Your first visit is of great importance for the continuous development of the relations between Japan and Azerbaijan. The friendly relations between Japan and Azerbaijan have a long history. Today the Japanese government has a special interest in strengthening cooperation with the independent Republic of Azerbaijan. Recently, much has been done in order to expand the relations between Azerbaijan and Japan, relations have been established with many companies in Japan and these relations are the first steps in the development of relations between the two countries. Azerbaijan has built a legal, democratic state, formed a democratic society, carried out reforms, expanded relations with foreign countries, in a word, a huge work is being done. The Japanese government follows all with an interest. I am sure that Azerbaijan will soon become one of the most developed countries of the world.

Heydar Aliyev: Your Majesty, thank you for your sincere words, for the hospitality, I express my pleasure with this official visit to Japan.

Our country has done a great work in building a legal, democratic, secular state and in the implementation of successful reforms. The independent Republic of Azerbaijan is very interested in the continuous development and in further strengthening the relations with Japan. As you know, Azerbaijan gained independence a few years ago. As an independent state our republic has its place in the world community. However, the state of war, which remains in our country, creates great difficulties in the life of the independent Azerbaijan. As a result of military aggression of Armenia over 20 per cent of our land has been occupied, over a million people have become refugees and internally displaced persons. Despite all this, we want to stop the war and know well that it has no future. Azerbaijan has always paid attention to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries in all the fields. Azerbaijan has opened its door for all the entrepreneurs of the world. Stable political situation in the country has created favorable conditions for the protection of foreign investments, liberalization of foreign trade and free business activity. Now Azerbaijan has the most reputable companies of the most countries of the world, they are willing to invest in the economy of our country for developing it. I remember with pleasure the direct participation of the Japanese company «Toshiba» in the construction of an air conditioner factory in Baku during my leadership in Azerbaijan in 1970. I want to mention that our country attaches great importance to further strengthening the relations with the Japanese companies which have won great reputation in the world. I want to emphasize that in the implementation of the contracts signed for the joint oil developments in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea the company «Itochu» now has a big share. I appreciate the interest of many Japanese companies in expanding the relations with Azerbaijan in all the spheres.

We would make efforts for the further development of the Azerbaijani-Japanese cooperation and for the increase of economic and cultural relations between the two countries.