Budapest, November 11 (MTI) – It is in the strategic interest of the whole of Europe that gas from Azerbaijan should reach its central and eastern region, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday after talks in Parliament with Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president.
After signing a joint declaration on a strategic partnership between the two counties, Orban said that current contracts only guarantee the delivery of Azeri energy to southern Europe. “Our job in the next few years is to create the conditions for Azeri gas to come up from the south to central Europe, too,” the Hungarian premier said.
The only way to succeed is for neighbouring states to link up their pipeline networks, he said, and urged member states of the European Union to form a common energy market, “the first step being nothing other than the connection of pipeline networks of neighbouring states.”
Orban called Hungary a “model state and a fair and correct partner,” since there it can supply energy to every neighbouring country from where it receives energy. “We are unique in this respect in the region,” he said.
The Hungarian-Azeri strategic partnership between “two dynamically developing states” serves the interests not only of Hungary but of the EU as well, since the EU and Azerbaijan already concluded a partnership and cooperation agreement in 1996, Orban said.
He called Azerbaijan a particularly valuable country because “it creates a certain bridge between Europe and Asia” and serves as proof “that there exist certain countries in the east that are secular and can therefore formulate their ties with the western world based on rational grounds and common sense.”
Orban called Azerbaijan a “model country” from the point of view how an economic system can be built on an energy sector that then trickles down to other sectors.
The prime minister said Hungary had many reasons for speaking about Azerbaijan, its president and his father, Heydar Aliyev, “with great respect.”
The Azeri president said the outlook for cooperation in the energy sector appeared “good”. Azerbaijan represents a new source of energy for Europe and his country has a need for the European market, he said, adding that its huge oil and gas resources would be delivered to Europe via the southern pipeline. He emphasised a firm resolve to bring the project to completion.
Aliyev told the joint press conference that political ties between the two countries are “excellent” and economic relations are developing fast. He noted that Orban had visited Baku twice and that this was now his third visit to Budapest.
He said business interest in both countries in the other was exceptionally great and there were good opportunities for mutual investment and cooperation. He welcomed the presence of Hungarian companies on the Azeri market, mainly in agriculture, water management and infrastructure development.
Speaking about the signed declaration on strategic partnership between the two countries, Aliyev said it covered the common goals of Hungary and Azerbaijan, and secured the success of cooperation as well as further aiding the development of ties between his country and the European Union.
He thanked Hungary for providing 200 scholarships to his countrymen, adding that such initiatives strengthened ties between the citizens of the two countries.
He invited Orban to pay another visit to Baku for the purpose of continuing their dialogue.
Prior to the meeting, Hungary and Azerbaijan signed eight documents. These included agreements on air transport and tourism, cooperation between Budapest and Baku and a letter of intent on animal health cooperation between the farming ministries. An agreement between the Hungarian development ministry and the Azeri telecommunications ministry was signed on applying innovative strategies, and two further ones on cooperation in youth and sports, and in education projects.
Photo: MTI – Szilard Koszticsak