From the speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev in the, with the representatives of the Japanese oil companies at the ceremony of the signature of oil contracts on the deposits of on "Atashgah", "Yanan Tava" and "Mugan-Deniz" - Baku, Prezdential Palace, December 24 1998


Heydar Aliyev: The distance between our countries is tremendously huge. Nevertheless, friendship between Japan and Azerbaijan brought us to each other much closer.

I recall my official visit to Japan in February of this year. Then I had a chance to meet all of you and to discuss numerous issues. I remember the meeting with His Excellency Emperor Akihito. By the way, you had a recent national holiday. I watched how you solemnly celebrated the Emperor`s birthday. I have already sent a letter of congratulation to the Emperor and the prime minister. However, I use this opportunity to congratulate you once more.

I held important and comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Mr. Hashimoto, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Obuti, who currently holds the post of the Prime Minister, and other minsiters of the cabinet. Primarily, we signed significant intergovernmental documents between Japan and Azerbaijan.

Amongst the numerous meetings that I held in Tokyo, I do remember the one that I had with you. At that time you made a proposal to sign an oil agreement with SOCAR. I expressed my agreement and now we meet to realize it.

We highly appreciate the development of economic cooperation between Japan and Azerbaijan. Japan is our prime partner. I think Japan pays more attention to the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea.

The historical Silk Road links us as well. I remember our talks in Tokyo in this regard. Mr. Hashimoto initiated his own conception long ago on the restoration of the "Great Historical Silk Road". This was further named "Hashimoto diplomacy on the Silk Road" not only in Japan but also in the world. We realize it as well. As you are aware, the international conference on the restoration of the Great Historical Silk Road was organized in September in Baku. Delegates from 32 countries, from Japan to Great Britain and Spain, participated in the conference. We signed significant agreements and now we are engaged in their practical realization. Taking all into account I emphasize that Japan and Azerbaijan are becoming important partners.

Signature of the an agreement on "Atashgah", "Yanan Tava" and "Mugan-Deniz" deposits has been arranged for the next day. You are all here and we will all be together tomorrow. The floor is yours.

President of "Japan Petroleum Exploration Co LTD" company Kazuo Vakasuki: Your Excellency, distinguished President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Heydar Aliyev!

First of all, we would like to extend our gratitude to you for receiving us. You mentioned the distance between our countries. Your official visit to Japan removed this distance and we became closer to each other. I understand that you removed this distance not only due to your skill and ability, but also due to your humanity. I know many young Japanese impressed by you.

In addition, I would like to stress that today`s and tomorrow`s gathering has immense importance. Because of your full support we have reached the day, which is so invaluable, that is, the day of signing the agreement. We do believe that the agreement that is to be signed tomorrow will provide further stimulus in expanding economic relations between our countries. Your Excellency, we are glad that the distance between our countries diminished thanks to your initiatives, and we are much closer to each other now.

I am confident that our Japanese consortiums are strongest because of the powerful enterprises in it. We are sure that we shall successfully end the exploration and move on to the next phase. We cordially want to have lasting relations with your country.

Initially, as we did not have an through knowledge on you country, we could not pronounce the word"Azerbaijan" properly. But now I know how to pronounce it correctly. Your nation is becoming our beloved as well.

I remember your visit to Japan with great pleasure, and the honor of having a lunch together. I do also recall two young Japanese officials, Mr. Kiato and Mr. Tanade, at lunch. They were impressed by you, and they still remember your invitation with pleasure. Then you told them "visit me while being in Azerbaijan". I consider that it was a great chance for them to meet a great leader like you.

There is a Chenese proverb that is extensively used as a Japanese saying: "a soldier, that is, samurai in Japanese, works for those who understand him". It is of great importance for the young, on whom we had a talk, who do their best for your country. I assume they do not necessarily do this taking into consideration of its benefits, but rather they do it for the sake of you.

At the end of my speech, I would like to congratulate you on your election president once more in the October this year. Please accept our sincere congratulations. Frankly speaking, not only me, but also a vast majority of the Japanese adore that Azerbaijan`s leader is wise and renowned.

I am confident that the relations between Japan and Azerbaijan will further improve. We hope that once we have a problem while implementing the project we can count on your help.

Heydar Aliyev: I appreciate those in Japan who symphathize me. I am sure of it. It is because we are getting closer to each other.

I am pleased that you can properly pronounce the word "Azerbaijan". I emphasize it. It is obvious that the Japanese language is very difficult for us. Azerbaijani and Russian, that we are communicating, are not easy for the Japanese. Do you know what I remembered when you mentioned it? We were part of the Soviet Union. As you are aware I was holding an important post in the Soviet Union. Michael Gorbachev was the leader then. You know him. He could not pronounce the word "Azerbaijan" correctly. And it is pronounced like "Azerbaydjan" in Russian. I corrected his mistake for several times. While having face-to-face talks, I told him "listen, you are the leader of the Soviet Union, of which Azerbaijan, is a part, but you cannot pronounce the name of the country in a proper way". He agreed with me, but after a short time he made the same mistake again. Certainly, I understood that he had difficulty with the languages. However, he pronounced some English words with emphasis. I thought that once he could manage English words, then why he could not cope with the Azerbaijani words.

I think it is not so difficult to pronounce a word in any language. Simply, one should have intention and respect. Therefore, you are an example in this respect. It shows that you will be able to learn Azerbaijani well enough. Respect to nation, national culture, language and tradition is always highly valued. Personally, I highly appreciate the Japanese history, culture, language, customs and traditions. You are worthy in this regard. Thank you.

Akira Handa, vice-president of the National Oil Coorporation of Japan: Your Excellency, on behalf of our cooperation I express my gratitude to you for receiving us. I congratulate you on your election President of Azerbaijan onece more.

You just mentioned that the relations between our countries are expanding. I would further note that your official visit to Japan contributed to strengthening these relations. I am pleased that not only businessmen but also common people, including my friends, neighbors, the young and the old know your country. Today, when I mentioned that I was leaving for Azerbaijan, my friends reminded: "Azerbaijan is a country from where Mr. President Heydar Aliyev came as a guest". I think now most Japanese not only know Azerbaijan, but also are willing to know more about it.

The Japanese Oil Cooperation considers that tomorrow we shall sign a number of significant documents due to your support and attitude. Our Cooperation extends its gratitude to you for choosing us, and stresses that it is a great stimulus for deepening relations between Azerbaijan and Japan.

President of our Cooperation was keen on coming to Azerbaijan today. But since there were discussions in the Japanese Parliament on budget, he simply could not come today. He asked me to convey his sincere regards and deliver his letter to you.

Heydar Aliyev: Discussion on budget is also under way in the Azerbaijani Parliament. We think that we are a bit late for discussions. Some people critisize us for that. But if an advanced country like Japan discusses its budget today, then we have an excuse.

Chief executive of "─░ndonesia" Petroleum LTD" company, Minoru Nagata: I want to express my regret that the president of our company was not able to be with us today. He sent his regards to you.

Our company, which is part of the Japanese consortium, is fully ready to efficiently implement this project. We want the successful implementation of the project which will immensely contribute to the economic relations between Azerbaijan and Japan. Thus, we hope for your further support and contribution.

Chief executive of "Teykoku Oil Co LTD" company Tosio Cimada: Our company is also pleased to sign the agreement. Our company`s president sent his regards and expressed his appreciation for your support. Our company, which is part of the Japanese consortium, will do its best to effectively carry out the assigned project. I thank you for your immense help, warm attitude and full support.

President of "─░tochu Oil Exploration Co LTD" Harumichi Umeda: I do also extend my gratitude. We have met in Japan. Then I was impressed by your health and efficiency. I still have the same impression, and I am glad for that.

Our company is taking part in other oil projects in Azerbaijan. The underlying characteristic of this project, however, is that only Japanese companies form the consortium. We hope for your further help and kind attitude.


Heydar Aliyev: Some issues have been solved with this agreement. I firmly made a decision to sign it. There will be a ceremony organized tomorrow at 14:30 in "Gulustan" Palace for the signature of the agreement.

The difference of this agreement from those signed before is that only the Japanese companies are part of the consortium. Different companies of various countries participated in our previous agreements. I hope that, having demonstrated its scientific-technological progress to the world in the 50s, 60, and 70s, the Japanese companies will show other companies in Azerbaijan on how to organize the assigned job.

This is the fourth agreement that the Japanese companies are part of. "Itochu" takes part in the first and the second agreement, whereas "Mitsui" participates in the third. While in the fourth, you attend altogether. It is very good. Therefore, I think we can extend our cooperation in future.

When I was in Tokyo, we discussed the issue of opening the Japanese embassy in Azerbaijan. Today I shall meet ambassador of Japan to Moscow. He exercises functions of the ambassador of Japan to Azerbaijan as well. I hope that the Japanese embassy to Azerbaijan will be opened soon. It is also beneficial to you.

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