Interview of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev to the correspondent of the Japanese Television \"Asakhi\" - February 27, 1998

Question: At present the economy of Japan faces certain difficulties. What can you say about it?

Answer: It is not difficult to say, how is the economy of Japan, we observe it from the side and know about the processes ongoing here. But it doesn`t interest me so much, Japan experiences difficulties, but it is a highly developed country with a huge economic potential, it occupies a leading place in the world economy. Therefore, I think that Japan will overcome the difficulties and will take a worthy place in the world community.

Question: Mr. President what can you say about the purpose of your first official visit to Japan?

Answer: This is the first visit of the President of the independent Azerbaijan to Japan. And already this fact speaks of the importance of the visit. We have been existing as an independent state for six years, we strive to establish mutually beneficial relations with all the countries of the world. I was with official visits to many leading countries of the world, and the West, and the East. Japan – is the largest country due to its economic relations and due to weight in the world policy. Therefore, my aim of my first visit was to establish closer relations with Japan and to determine the concrete directions of our cooperation. I have arrived in Japan with this purpose and I am satisfied with the results of this visit.

Question: Mr. President, there is a lot of oil in your country. How much is its reserves?

Answer: First of all you should not envy Azerbaijan for this, if you have no oil, you have a lot of other things. There are a lot of oil in the Caspian. We work in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian sea. There are on-shore reserves of oil in Azerbaijan as well. You know that Azerbaijan is an ancient country of oil, and now is the second stage of its production. We are engaged in developments of reach oil deposits together with foreign oil companies, all the deposits were explored a long time ago by the Azerbaijani geologists, but we could not exploit them because of different reasons. It is difficult to say how much oil we have. For instance, we have oil deposits appreciated by our experts. But when we begin their development, drilling, it becomes evident that there are more oil than we expected. By the way, it is the same with the deposit \"Chirag\". We began to develop it last November in conformity with the contract signed in September of 1994. The wells drilled here produced more oil than we expected. We received much oil in the deposits of \"Ashrafi\" and \"Dan Ulduzu\", too. We signed the contract on these deposits in 1996, 20 percent of the share in the contract belongs to \"Itochy\" of Japan. In one word there are much oil. There were signed 9 contracts for a term 30 years. The total sum of investments for these contracts is about US $ 30, several billion tons of oil will be produced in conformity with the said contracts.

Question: Mr. President Japan was late to begin the cooperation with Azerbaijan. Can it become a good partner to you?

Answer: You are, undoubtedly, late, it does not quite to the Japanese, somehow. Usually they are never late and arrive at the appointed place earlier than others. But I think you will make up leeway. For instance yesterday we signed an agreement on the allocation of 15 percent of shares in one big project to \"Mitsui\" of Japan. Now look: your \"Itochy\" takes part in our first oil contract and also in the contract on \"Dan ulduzu\" and \"Ashtafi\", and yesterday the \"Mitsui\" received 15 percent of shares in one big project. This is quite a good beginning. I think that with your Japanese character you can fill up the gap. It will depend on you. If in 1994 we signed agreements with companies which came to us, now we announce tenders. For instance, last September we signed a contract with the Italian company \"Eni/Adjip\" on the deposit of \"Kurdashi\", but there were 10 pretenders. \"Eni/Adjip\" has presented best economic conditions, and we signed the contract with it. When \"Mitsui\" appealed, we said told that if you can offer best conditions than others, then we shall give it to you. They offered these conditions. That is, now we have a tender and a competition. And if Japanese companies offer best conditions, then they will have the contracts.

Correspondent: Mr. President, there was the danger of bombardment of Iraq connected mainly with Iraq. Oil is good for every country, of course, but it should not bring misfortune to people.

Heydar Aliyev: What to do? Such things can not frighten us to delay the development of our natural resources for the development of our country. I think that similar cases connected with Kuwait, with Iraq should be removed. The world should be more safely, and it must not be allowed to apply military sanctions connected because of economic interests against some countries.

Question: Mr. President, in the period of the Soviet Union You were the member of the Politburo. We think that now Azerbaijan builds closer partnership with the USA than with Russia. What you can tell about it?

Answer: We want to have equal mutually beneficial relations with all the countries of the world – with Russia, the United States of America, France, England, Japan, China, with all neighbours – Iran, Turkey, Georgia and others. We want to have peaceful good-neighbourly relations even with Armenia, with which we are in military conflict. But at the same time, we cannot permit that any country, where it is a great or small country, to encroach upon our sovereignty and independence. The independence of Azerbaijan is a historical event. And our paramount task is to provide the inviolability of our independence. Therefore when someone makes any attempt to exert pressure or to attempt upon our sovereignty indirectly, we cannot agree with it. Azerbaijan is a small country. But we think that now all countries in the world should be equal, irrespective of the territory, quantity of the population and economic potentials. These principles are the basis of our relations with all countries, including Russia and the United States.

Question: Mr. President, there is a very widespread corruption in Russia. Are you not afraid of a such corruption after the entry of a big amount of money to Azerbaijan from oil received as a result of the signed contracts?

Answer: Corruption is everywhere, including Japan. Lately, I heard that your Minister of Finance resigned because of corruption among his staff. Recently, 15 ago before I dismissed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, for being involved in corruption. Corruption is a disease which has infected almost all the countries of the world. And our task to fight against it. Corruption exists today in Azerbaijan too. We do not hide it and speak of it openly. During our meeting with the representatives of the Japan companies I called them to build the relations on pure and fair basis. In short, we shall fight against corruption.

Question: Mr. President, collapse of the Soviet system is connected with the mistakes made by then leadership of the Soviet Union. What can you say about it?

Answer: You know it is a big issue. There were many mistakes in the former Soviet Union. But now you say that it was not the mistakes of the leaders of the Soviet Union, those of the political and economic system. You know, that in 1987 I retired from all my posts. I was a member of the Politburo and the first vice-chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. I did not work six years, I was in isolation and even was exposed to persecutions, pursuits. In 1990, when the Soviet leadership adopted an antinational decision and brought a large contingent of troops into Azerbaijan in order to suppress the national movement, blood was shed. I spoke in Moscow, protested against Gorbachev\'s decision and his government. Then I left the Communist party in the ranks of which I was since my younghood. Then I appreciated my own views. In the period of the Soviet Union I was thinking that the Communist party should leave the administration of the country. It could exist. And it turned true and collapsed. Probably, it is strange, but I am Aliyev, one of it`s leaders, met the collapse of the USSR with satisfaction and pleasure. Therefore, there were mistakes of the Soviet leadership, but now it is possible to tell, that the system was wrong. Although it is impossible to deny, that it has played its historical role. I do not agree with those who denounces all the past. There are both positive and negative points in the past.

What concerns my state building I must say that I am President of independent Azerbaijan. Construction of a democratic, legal, secular state in Azerbaijan, protection of human rights, freedom of speech, press, conscience, freedom of political pluralism, freedom of entrepreneurship are my basic principles. We build our economy on the basis of market relations and close integration into the world economy. We have proclaimed the policy of open doors for foreign investments. They come to us. For this purpose we have created favorable conditions. That is to say, we want to be on the level of the contemporary world civilization in political, economic, and social spheres.

Question: Mr. President, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin will arrive in Japan on an official visit in a month. What can you tell about Mr. Yeltsin?

Answer: He is good man. He is the supporter of democracy, conducts economic reforms, very actively tries for the democratization of Russia, wishes to conduct many democratic transformations. I also want Russia to be a democratic country, not an empire. We are the neighbours of Russia. Therefore I want Russia to be democratic, not to be the old Russia any more.

Question: Mr. President how do you think, can Russia give the Kuril Islands to Japan?

Answer: Well, it is an old problem. As I know, in 1993 when President Boris Yeltsin was in Japan, he declared, and then you reached an agreement that the question of the northern territories will be solved. I know from mass media that there was a meeting of President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Hashimoto in Krasnoyarsk called \"a meeting without ties \", this question also was the focus of attention there. They say that you have agreed to solve this question by 2000. I wish with all my heart that it were be solved.

Correspondent: Thank you.

Heydar Aliyev: \"Our independence is eternal\" (statements, speeches, declarations, interviews, letters, addresses, orders) vol.14, \"Azerneshr\", Baki, p. 401