Hungary and its partners have made a commitment to a unique project, the construction of the world’s longest submarine cable to deliver electricity from Azerbaijan via Georgia and Romania to Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Bucharest on Saturday, ahead of a ceremony to sign an agreement on the project.
The European Union has been caught in a “strategic vacuum”, in which the leaders of member states need to ensure energy and economic security for their countries through identifying and securing new energy sources, Orbán said. He added that energy sources in the Caspian region were “within a reasonable distance” and the cable project announced today would provide an “innovative solution” for their exploitation.
Concerning the situation in Europe, Orbán said it had “never been as chaotic in the records of history”. He pointed to the war in Ukraine, a serious energy crisis with soaring prices and supply shortages. He said an inflation is also hitting the European economy, while “the leaders of Europe have decided to separate the Russian and European economies, and the United States has in the meantime introduced a series of unprecedented market protection measures which are also hitting Europe”.
“An epoch in the history of the European economy of importing cheap raw materials and energy from Russia is over; we used to provide western technologies in turn and it yielded economic growth and military security for both sides,” Orbán said. “There is no new strategy, that is why we have a strategic vacuum,” he added.
The new cable, delivering Azerbaijan’s electricity generated mostly from wind and solar energy, will be 1,195 kilometres long and complete with an optic internet cable linking Romania and Georgia.
Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signed the agreement with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attending.
In his address at the ceremony, Orbán noted the EU’s increased attention paid recently to Azerbaijan, adding that President Aliyev had also been open to cooperation. “My decade-long experience is that the EU can always count on Azerbaijan as a reliable partner,” he said.
Orbán said Romania had made a “tremendous progress” since his last visit eight years ago, adding that the improvement would justify Romania’s Schengen integration. But, he said, “we made an ill-advised decision in the EU the other day”. That decision should be “corrected” and Romania included in the Schengen area, Orbán said, adding that Hungary would support Romania’s endeavours.
Peter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, said the new cable would have a combined capacity of 3 gigawatts, and “break a world record in terms of its length”. Szijjártó said an Italian company was preparing the feasibility study for the project at a cost of 2.5 million euros covered by the World Bank.
The study is expected to be completed by the end of next year and construction will then “theoretically” take another three to four years, he said. The minister welcomed that the European Commission handled the project as an investment of common interest and allocated 2.3 billion euros for its implementation.
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