Foreign minister: Hungary has interest in EU-Azerbaijan partnership
Hungary has a vested interest in the creation of a successful partnership between the European Union and Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov in Budapest on Monday.
Szijjártó named energy cooperation the most important element of an EU-Azeri partnership.
The fastest way to diversify Hungary’s gas supplies is by linking the country to the southern gas corridor through which most of the gas will be supplied by Azerbaijan, he said.
He noted that the trans-Anatolian pipeline, which will carry gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey, would be completed next year. Initially it will have a capacity of 16 billion cubic metres and later it will be able to transport 26 billion cubic metres of gas.
Szijjártó said that if Hungary was to benefit from the gas supply going through the corridor, it will need a supply route that connects it to the pipeline.
The minister also noted that Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia have signed agreements with Gazprom on preparations to build a large-capacity pipeline through which Hungary would have access to Azeri gas.
On the topic of bilateral ties, Szijjártó said that the Hungary-Azerbaijan mixed economic committee would meet in early October, which will be followed by a visit by Azerbaijan’s president to Hungary. In mid-September, the foreign ministers of the Visegrád Group countries will hold a joint meeting with their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership countries, he added.
Szijjártó said Hungary and Azerbaijan were continuously intensifying their economic ties, adding that more and more Hungarian companies were establishing a presence on the Azeri market.
Currently 130 Hungarian companies are present on Azerbaijan’s pharmaceuticals market and one of Europe’s largest air cargo carriers, an Azeri company, now operates two Budapest-Baku flights a week, Szijjártó said. In addition, Budapest waterworks Fővárosi Vízművek and its Azeri partner are working on a number of joint projects, he said.
So far 11 EU member states have signed strategic agreements with Azerbaijan, Szijjártó noted.
Mammadyarov underlined the importance of boosting EU-Azeri cooperation, arguing that it could prove beneficial not just in the field of energy but in shipping as well. He said Azerbaijan wants to deepen its ties with Hungary, adding that a strategic partnership with the EU could help advance this goal. Mammadyarov said Azerbaijan is committed to increasing its bilateral trade with Hungary.
Featured image: MTI