President Ilham Aliyev bravely leads Azerbaijani people to happy future, Secretary General of Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians` Union Tetsuya Hirose

Azerbaijan will mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan in September this year. On this occasion, special correspondent of Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency (AzerTAc) interviewed the first Ambassador of Japan to Azerbaijan, current Secretary General of Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians` Union Tetsuya Hirose.
- Mr. Tetsuya, Azerbaijan and Japan marks 20 years of diplomatic relations this year. You worked as the first Ambassador of Japan to Azerbaijan. How can you describe the Japan-Azerbaijan relations then?
- I want to welcome Azerbaijani readers in their native language. As you noted, I was the first Ambassador of Japan to Azerbaijan in 2000-2002. Japan established diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan on September 7, 1992. The Japanese government paid special attention to the development of countries which regained independence. Azerbaijan took decisive steps under Heydar Aliyev`s leadership though the country was in trouble. We followed how Heydar Aliyev displayed courage, and prevented civil war, achieved ceasefire with Armenia. I was appointed as a director of Japan`s Foreign Ministry`s Directorate for CIS countries in 1993. So I was well informed of the processes in Azerbaijan. Japan supported development of friendship relations with Azerbaijan even more.
I happened to visit Azerbaijan in September, 1994. I was a member of the Japanese delegation attending the signing ceremony of the "Contract of the Century" in September 20. To tell the truth, the people of Azerbaijan amazed me with their hospitality and frankness. Obviously this visit had a great role in my next appointment.
President Heydar Aliyev`s statement saying the "Contract of the Century" is open to all nations encouraged us to join relevant project. Production Sharing agreement on Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli fields was signed between Japan`s Itochu Company and Azerbaijan`s State Oil Firm (SOCAR). Humanitarian, sport and other relations are important, but I think investment exchange is the most important type of cooperation. Economic ties based on mutual and equal interest bring nations closer.
President Heydar Aliyev`s official visit to Japan in February 1998 gave a push to the development of cooperation between our countries. Meetings of President Heydar Aliyev with Emperor of Japan, Prime Minister and other officials, negotiations and an agreement he signed with Prime Minister Hashimoto opened a new phase in the Japan-Azerbaijan relations.
I was appointed as an ambassador to Azerbaijan in January, 2000 and took office in May. The Japanese government made a lot to develop the relations with Azerbaijan which were based on mutual understanding.
I tried to use all opportunities to strengthen relations even more in various spheres. We managed to realize a number of important projects as part of the Official development assistance Program. Unfortunately I had to leave your beautiful country as I had health problems. I have taken back pleasant memories of this country.
- Your were Ambassador to Azerbaijan during the presidency of Heydar Aliyev. What are your memories about Heydar Aliyev as a statesman and President?
- President Heydar Aliyev was a charismatic politician, great statesman and world famous strategist. He had extraordinary memory, foresight, and admirable ability to work. Heydar Aliyev`s working tirelessly for the motherland and people was an example of patriotism. Heydar Aliyev had unexampled services towards formation and development of Japan-Azerbaijan relations.
I remember what President Heydar Aliyev said when he accepted my credentials. During the meeting, he underlined steady development of relations between our countries. Japanese businessmen, oil companies operate in Azerbaijan successfully. Heydar Aliyev stated that Japan-Azerbaijan relations are important for Azerbaijan. Japan allocated large amount of preferential loans to Azerbaijan, and it helped to develop power energy sector and other fields of economy in the country.
President Heydar Aliyev stated that Japan`s Embassy would spare no efforts towards further expansion and steady development of our relations.
These words increased my responsibility even more. I perceived that I had to justify not only the Japanese government`s confidence, but also the Azerbaijani leadership.
I had spoken in Azerbaijani when I handed over my credentials to President Heydar Aliyev. He appreciated it very much.
- What can you say about the current level of Japan-Azerbaijan relations? What is your point of view on development of Azerbaijan as an independence state?
- There is great interest and sincere attitude to Azerbaijan in Japan. We feel it exactly from the Azerbaijani side. I am very happy to see successful development of relations between Azerbaijan and Japan. Especially, energy cooperation, and ties based on mutual benefit and confidence continue successfully. Development of relations in recent years is a good news for the Japanese government and nation.
I have recently attended a presentation named "Azerbaijan - Land of Fire" organized by Azerbaijan`s Embassy in the Japan`s parliament. It is impossible not to be astonished by the great accomplishments your country gained in recent years. I have eye witnessed it during my Baku trip in 2009. I was amazed at the construction boom over past last seven years. Azerbaijan`s leadership, President Ilham Aliyev whom activity I follow with special interest, courageously leads the Azerbaijani people to the great successes, happy future. Azerbaijan`s achievements, its becoming leader state of the region, election to the UN Security Council, accomplishments in the humanitarian sphere are estimable. I am sure that main problem of Azerbaijan - Nagorno Karabakh conflict will be peacefully fairly solved as soon as possible. As a friend of Azerbaijan I wish it heartily.
Steady developing Azerbaijan under President Ilham Aliyev has very good relations with Japan. This makes me happy, as I love this country with great passion.



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