The Prime Minister of Hungary made the statement first.
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 10 years now. 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. The reason for this is that both countries are well aware and clearly see that not only Europe, but also other regions of the world are facing threats.
The present 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 very dangerous situation for Hungary, for our energy security, and the energy security of Europe has entered a sensitive period. These new conditions have immediately enhanced the importance of Azerbaijan. The significance of this country has made a kind of a leap 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 that can be transported from various sources.
Today Mr. President and I talked about our experience 10 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 probably one day examine why the NABUCCO project was postponed. Of course, this happened at a time before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. At that time, of course, 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. If you look 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 very happy 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. Major projects need to be implemented. We have already started negotiations and cooperation with the energy companies of Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia in order to attract the necessary funds. Romanians, Bulgarians and Hungarians have already started cooperating. This is not just a regional issue, it is a pan-European issue. Therefore, we expect that the European Commission will support these projects. I would like to remind you that Mr. Aliyev and I recently signed another agreement in Bucharest, according to which an electric cable will be extended under the Black Sea to bring green energy from Azerbaijan to Europe. This is what the situation is like today, and this is a situation that necessitates the current meeting of the leaders of the two countries.
I am very glad that President Aliyev has found time to visit us. Today, of course, a country rich in energy and gas has many friends, but I would like to assure you that we have been friends with Azerbaijan for a long time, and I would like to thank Mr. President for this cooperation. Thank you very much for your attention.
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Then, the President of Azerbaijan made the statement.
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. 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. This is a second signed document on strategic partnership and it shows again that Hungary and Azerbaijan are true friends and strategic partners.
Our successful policy and joint steps in recent years have created a very strong foundation for cooperation in the field of energy today. Prime Minister has recalled that great work was done on the NABUCCO project. However, the NABUCCO project was not implemented because the financial sources had not been identified. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan worked hard to deliver its gas resources to European markets and, as a result, the Southern Gas Corridor was implemented two years ago. This is very 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 now.
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, and so are political will and contacts with our partners.
I am very glad that we have now 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 of particular importance in the present-day world, and I think they 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 exactly 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 a lot of investment. 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 major financial resources. At the same time, they require very strict coordination. Therefore, we will take the first step at the meeting to be held in Baku on February 3. So the energy security of the European continent will be ensured in a more complete and comprehensive manner.
Although much of our cooperation is focused on energy issues, it is not limited to that. At the same time, we are implementing major plans in the field of transport. I can say that we have already started transferring goods from Hungary to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Hungary through railways. This project has great 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 existing in Azerbaijan – be it tankers, ships, a large trade seaport, railways – all of them are modern and meet all the necessary requirements. Therefore, although Azerbaijan is a landlocked country, I think it can become one of the important transport and logistical centers of Eurasia. There are very good opportunities for cooperation with European countries, especially with Hungary, which is one of our closest partners in the European Union.
In parallel with this, there are very good results in the field of education. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Prime Minister for the fact that 200 young Azerbaijanis are studying in Hungary with the support of the Hungarian government. This is, of course, a very important event in the direction of personnel capacity building in Azerbaijan. At the same time, it will greatly strengthen our friendship.
Another important area for cooperation is demining. In the period since the end of the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan has been faced with great problems in this field. More than a million mines have to be cleared. In two years after the war, about 300 Azerbaijani citizens have been either killed or seriously injured by mines. Therefore, taking into account Hungary's experience in this field, we are seeing good opportunities for cooperation.
In parallel with this, opinions were also exchanged regarding the activities of Hungarian companies in the liberated lands of Karabakh and Zangezur. In the near future, maybe in a week from now, we will start discussing specific projects. We are very interested in working together in the field of urban development, which Hungary has a great experience in. Because nothing has been left standing in liberated lands on an area of 10,000 square kilometers. All buildings and the entire infrastructure were destroyed during the occupation, and we will certainly revive these regions. Karabakh and Eastern 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 agenda. However, there are other areas of our cooperation. The key thing is that Hungary and Azerbaijan as two friendly and partner countries will continue to deepen bilateral cooperation and will provide each other with support within the framework of the international organizations we are represented in.
Dear Prime Minister, I want to thank you once again for your hospitality. Using this opportunity, I would like to invite you to visit Azerbaijan. Thank you.