The Hungarian government is supporting the participation of Hungarian companies in reconstruction efforts in the Karabakh region, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said after talks with Azerbaijani counterpart Ceyhun Bayramov in Baku on Wednesday.
Szijjártó said his Baku talks were also held as part of preparations for an agreement under which Hungary is set to purchase natural gas from Azerbaijan from the mid-2020s.
Meanwhile, stating the Hungarian government’s position, he said the international community should “respect Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and integrity within internationally recognised boundaries”. “We have always promoted that position and advocated it openly, unlike some,” he added.
Szijjártó said he hoped Azerbaijan would soon have “a period of peace and calm” and its reconstruction process could be completed quickly and successfully so that people earlier forced to leave their homes could return.
The minister is being accompanied by the heads of six companies with experience in road, rail, and general construction, farming and agricultural infrastructure, water management and lighting technology, which could take crucial roles in Azerbaijan’s reconstruction projects. Hungary’s Eximbank is providing a 100 million dollar credit line to promote such ventures.
Szijjártó noted he met Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, who briefed him on plans for major investments in his country over the next two and a half years. Participation in those projects would help Hungarian companies tap into a well of huge potential, he added.
The minister, meanwhile, said that Hungary, as president of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers from May, would pay special attention to promoting long-term peace in the region and assist refugees returning to their homes.
Concerning gas supplies, Szijjártó said that Hungary would have a physical link to the Southern Gas Corridor through an interconnector between the networks of Greece and Bulgaria as well as a pipeline between Hungary and Serbia, to be completed before the end of 2021. It is in Hungary’s interest to buy gas from Azerbaijan via that route, he said.
Azerbaijan is working to increase its natural gas production, facilitating the purchase of large amounts gas “from the middle of the decade, but more likely from 2023-24 on”. Talks between Hungary’s energy company MVM and Azerbaijan’s oil company SOCAR are under way with legal groundwork for an agreement before Azerbaijan’s production volume can meet such purchases, the minister added.
Szijjártó congratulated Bayramov on signing an agreement with Turkmenistan on suppling gas to Europe. “This is a great step forward for Hungary because we’ll be able to buy gas not only from Azerbaijan but also from Turkmenistan via the Southern Corridor.”
Szijjártó signed a letter of intention with Hafiz Pashayev, the rector of ADA University, aimed at education cooperation between ADA and the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy. Demand for the 200 Hungarian university scholarships for Azerbaijani students is high, he added.
featured image: Szijjártó with Ceyhun Bayramov in Baku; via Facebook