Statement of H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan at the 6th GUAM-Japan Ministerial Meeting on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

New York, 24 September 2018

Dear Mr. Chairman,

Dear Mr. Taro Kano,

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguish Colleagues,

On behalf of our Delegation, I would like to greet all of you and thank the Moldovan Chairmanship for facilitating today’s event. I do hope that our meeting will be another opportunity for a fruitful exchange of views and sharing our vision about enhancing cooperation among GUAM and Japan.

At the beginning of my intervention I’d like to underline the importance of an enhanced GUAM-Japan interaction, aimed at ensuring peace, security, stability, and prosperity on both regional and inter-regional levels.

Therefore, I am glad to recall my fruitful meeting with my Japanese colleague Mr. Kano in Baku during his recent trip to Azerbaijan. We have strong relations, but we should not stop there. We should do more. Both Azerbaijan and the rest of our partners in GUAM. And with such friend and partner as Japan, the distance actually doesn’t and should not matter.

In this light, I would like to emphasize that the implementation of the “GUAM-Japan Cooperation Program” signed during the 3rd GUAM-Japan Ministerial Meeting (3 December 2015, Belgrade), is of particular significance for the strengthening our cooperation as well as elaborating and implementing new projects.

The political dimension of our interaction with Japan features a particular emphasis on Japan’s support to our countries on the pertinent issue of safeguarding our sovereignty and territorial integrity and the resolution of conflicts based on well-known norms and principles of international law in all regional and international fora. We count on Japan’s consistent position and support in the UN and elsewhere.

Apart from that, we are keen to promote connectivity diplomacy, so that the concept of GUAM Transport Corridor gains a momentum. Establishing safe, reliable, commercially solid transport and infrastructure projects is our common goal. With that purpose in mind, Azerbaijan helps to expand regional and even inter-regional trade through constructing a web of infrastructure projects such as East-West, South-West, and North-South trade corridors. In order to attract considerable trade volumes to our region, we have been actively engaged with many countries. Japanese companies can also benefit from these transport and logistics projects.

We are enhancing our sea trade port infrastructure and also developing a logistics hub of a regional scale through a Free Economic Zone in Alyat, which will be governed by a special long-term liberal investment and fiscal regime, so that it can attract companies from different sectors. We did it back in 1994 with the Contact of Century, which attracted multinational companies to our oil and gas sector. So we will do again, this time by attracting companies to our logistics hub in and around our trade port’s area. It will boost trade across GUAM region. So our invitation is for Japan and our GUAM partners to keep in mind and support this strategic endeavor of Azerbaijan.

In order to ensure the stable development of non-oil sector by investing in SMEs, the Government of Azerbaijan has been successfully cooperating with various IFIs. SMEs are important engines for economic growth of each country and a key contributor of employment. In this regard we appreciate the outcomes of the GUAM-Japan Workshop on Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion, which was held in Japan on January 28 – February 3, 2018, and decision of two sides to organize the Workshop on Investment Promotion on next year in Japan. We invite Japanese investors to explore possibilities for SME sector development in our country. What is good for Azerbaijan is good for the GUAM region. Also, it would be useful to consider the possibilities of helding GUAM-Japan Business Forum, as well as Security Dialogue meetings.

Boosting strong and sustainable tourism growth is one of the priorities for our national economy. In this regard we appreciate efforts of Japanese side towards extension of cultural and humanitarian exchanges with GUAM member states, whichcontribute to the development of cooperation in the tourism sphere. In this regard we welcome negotiations betweenthe aviation authorities of our countries concerning opening direct air passenger flights.

We need to strengthen our partnership based on priority areas of cooperation.

Thank you for your attention.