Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó (R) and his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov
By refusing to finance the expansion of energy infrastructure capacity for the time being, Brussels has lost all its legal basis to have a say on where Central Europe and Hungary within it, buys natural gas, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó stated in Budapest on Monday.
At a joint press conference with his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, the Hungarian Minister stressed that in recent years it has been clear that the closer the cooperation between the two countries, the more Hungary benefits in terms of security of energy supply and maintaining economic growth. In the former context, he highlighted that diversification and the inclusion of new sources of natural gas were important, and underlined that Azerbaijan could be a realistic alternative not only from a Hungarian, but also a European perspective.
It is good news that after many years of negotiations, the physical flow of natural gas between Azerbaijan and Hungary has started this year,”
he said, recalling that an agreement had been reached on the purchase of 100 million cubic meters and the storage of 50 million cubic meters on a lease basis.
Péter Szijjártó added that the government would like to further increase this volume to about one billion cubic meters per year.
Whether this will be successful is not up to us, or to Azerbaijan, but to the European Union, because the fact is that the infrastructure in southeastern Europe does not currently have sufficient capacity to meet the diversification needs of the countries of central Europe,”
he emphasized. He affirmed that the increase in capacity is not enough to attract Azeri, Turkish, and Qatari resources to the region, and that this will remain a dream unless the EU is willing to support the development of the infrastructure.
The foreign minister stressed that
relations between the two countries are also important for sustaining economic growth, as demonstrated by the fact that trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Hungary in the first half of this year was twice as high as in the whole of last year.
The main reasons for this were the continued growth of Hungarian pharmaceutical exports and energy imports.
He welcomed the agreement to allow Hungarian companies to participate in the reconstruction of the Nagorno-Karabakh region after the war, representing an opportunity worth tens of millions of dollars. Two domestic pharmaceutical companies are also about to invest in the South Caucasus state, and Hungarian soft drink producer Hell Energy recently decided to build a plant there worth around $200 million.
I remember when we started to build our relations with Azerbaijan in 2010-11, we were not even laughed at here in Europe, we were looked down upon (…) So it is funny to see Western European leaders now jostling around Baku to have their picture taken with President Aliyev,”
Szijjártó said. “However, our friendship is not conjunctural, we are not just friends since it turned out that you have natural gas,” he concluded.
Via MTI, Featured photo via MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd