Joint press statements of President of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister of Hungary

30 January 2023, 17:56

Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orban

- Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

Dear Mr. President Aliyev.

Dear friends from Azerbaijan.

The meetings held between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Hungary are always of exceptional importance. Mr. President and I have been working together for more than ten years. However, this is not just a meeting of friends. Today, discussions were held on strategic issues. Our strategic cooperation has been raised to the next level, and this cooperation has been expanded. It is because both countries are well aware and clearly see that not only Europe but other regions of the world are facing threats.

The current environment in international relations is more dangerous than it was before. The war in our neighborhood and the sanctions imposed by Brussels have created a perilous situation for Hungary, our energy security, and the energy security of Europe has entered a sensitive period. These new conditions have immediately enhanced Azerbaijan's importance, and this country's significance has leaped forward. Azerbaijan has always been our friend, and now it is a strategic partner for the whole of Europe. Everyone in Europe today understands that our answer to this situation is diversification. We are talking about the maximum volume transported from various sources.

Today, Mr. President and I talked about our experience ten years ago. At that time, both countries were already working on transporting energy from Azerbaijan to Europe. At that time, that plan was not implemented. If you remember, it was the NABUCCO project. Future historians will one day examine why the NABUCCO project was postponed. Of course, this happened before Russia invaded Ukraine. At that time, energy resources were not transported to Europe, but today we are again facing a scenario where energy volumes should be transported from Azerbaijan to Europe. For this reason, we highly appreciate Azerbaijan's commitment to this issue, and it has signed a relevant document with the European Union. According to that document, Azerbaijan will double the volume of gas to be transported to Europe by 2027.

In addition, we have signed another agreement. We will bring electricity produced in Azerbaijan to Europe. Looking at the map, you will see that these volumes of energy coming from Azerbaijan in terms of both natural gas and electricity will pass through Hungary. Therefore, Hungary also wishes to be in a win-win situation in this matter. Also, since we are located on the transport route, the role of Hungary will increase.

I am delighted that Hungary will be a part of the solution – not a problem, but a solution. It is clear that there will be a great need for the development of infrastructure projects. We are talking about huge funds here, and significant projects must be implemented. We have already started negotiations and cooperation with the energy companies of Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia to attract the necessary funds. Romanians, Bulgarians, and Hungarians have already started cooperating. It is not just a regional issue. It is a pan-European matter. Therefore, we expect that the European Commission will support these projects. I want to remind you that Mr. Aliyev and I recently signed another agreement in Bucharest. An electric cable will be extended under the Black Sea to bring green energy from Azerbaijan to Europe. So, that's the situation right now, and that is why the two countries' leaders are meeting today.

I am happy that President Aliyev has found time to visit us. Of course, a country rich in energy and gas has many friends nowadays, but I want to assure you that we have been friends with Azerbaijan for a long time, and I want to thank Mr. President for this cooperation. Thank you very much for your attention.

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Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear Prime Minister.

Dear ladies and gentlemen.

Prime Minister, first of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation and hospitality.

As Prime Minister has mentioned, we have been in close contact with each other for many years, and we share the bonds of friendship. The friendly relations between our countries are of great importance both for our countries and, at the same time, for the Eurasian continent.

The Joint Declaration on the Deepening of Strategic Partnership, signed today, is further evidence of our strategic partnership. It is the second signed document on strategic partnership, showing again that Hungary and Azerbaijan are true friends and strategic partners.

Our successful policies and joint steps in recent years have created a strong foundation for cooperation in the energy field today. The Prime Minister has recalled that significant work was done on the NABUCCO project. However, the NABUCCO project was not implemented because the financial sources had yet to be identified. Still, Azerbaijan worked hard to get its gas resources to European markets, and the Southern Gas Corridor was commissioned two years ago. It is a modern energy infrastructure, its length is 3,500 kilometers, and Azerbaijan has been delivering its natural gas resources to the European Union for two years.

According to the document we signed with the European Commission last year, we plan to double our gas supply, perhaps even more than double. The resources to do that are available, as are the political will and contacts with our partners.

I am delighted that we have revived the NABUCCO project, which was once consigned to history. Through interconnectors, Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to Bulgaria, then to Romania, then to Hungary, and after Hungary to other European countries. We have also discussed this. Hungary is not only a consumer of Azerbaijani gas but will also act as a transit country for Azerbaijani gas to other European countries.

Of course, energy security issues are particularly important in the present-day world and are currently at the top of the global agenda. Azerbaijan's ample oil and gas resources allow it the opportunity to be a reliable partner for Europe for many years to come – at least for a hundred years from now in terms of natural gas. This is precisely what the leadership of the European Commission calls Azerbaijan - a reliable partner.

The recently discovered tremendous green energy potential has also enhanced the importance of Azerbaijan. Of course, projects related to green energy and the already implemented ones will bring us closer to Europe. As my dear friend has mentioned, according to the agreement signed last month, Azerbaijan will deliver its green energy to Europe, and these issues were discussed again today. The countries involved in this project – Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania – will gather for the first steering committee meeting in Baku in a few days and start working on the concept of future activities.

This is a project that requires significant investments. The generation of green energy, its transmission and delivery to the market, and also the laying of a cable under the Black Sea – all these projects require substantial financial resources. At the same time, they require rigorous coordination. Therefore, we will take the first step at the meeting in Baku on February 3. So the energy security of the European continent will be ensured more thoroughly and comprehensively.

Although much of our cooperation is focused on energy issues, it is not limited to that. At the same time, we are implementing significant plans in the field of transport. We have already started transferring goods from Hungary to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Hungary through the railways. This project has excellent potential as well. Because after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the volume of goods passing through the territory of Azerbaijan has dramatically increased. Last year alone, the volume of transit cargo increased by 75 percent. The modern transport infrastructure in Azerbaijan – tankers, ships, a large trade seaport, or railways – all are modern and meet all the requirements. Therefore, although Azerbaijan is a landlocked country, I think it can become one of the essential transport and logistical centers in Eurasia. There are excellent opportunities for cooperation with European countries, especially with Hungary, one of our closest partners in the European Union.

In parallel with this, there are very good results in the field of education. I want to take this chance to thank the Prime Minister for making it possible for 200 young Azerbaijanis to study in Hungary on scholarships from the Hungarian government. It is a significant matter in terms of personnel capacity building in Azerbaijan. At the same time, it will significantly strengthen our friendship.

Another important area for cooperation is demining. Since the end of the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has faced tremendous problems in this field. More than a million mines have to be cleared. In the two years after the war, about 300 Azerbaijani citizens were killed or seriously injured by mines. Therefore, considering Hungary's experience in this field, we see good cooperation opportunities.

In parallel with this, views were also exchanged regarding the activities of Hungarian companies in the liberated lands of Karabakh and Zangezur. Soon, in a week, we will start discussing specific projects. We are very interested in working together in the field of urban development, in which Hungary has extensive experience. Everything has been razed to the ground in the liberated lands, covering 10,000 square kilometers. During the occupation, every building and piece of infrastructure was destroyed, but we will rebuild these areas. Karabakh and East Zangezur have already been declared green energy zones.

In other words, the multifaceted nature of our cooperation is clearly visible. Of course, the energy sector plays a key role now, as it tops the global and European agendas. However, there are other areas of our cooperation. The most important thing is that Hungary and Azerbaijan, as two neighboring and friendly countries, will continue to work together and help each other in the international organizations where they are both represented.

Dear Prime Minister, I want to thank you again for your hospitality. Using this opportunity, I would like to invite you to visit Azerbaijan. Thank you.