FM: Natural gas deliveries flow from Azerbaijan to Hungary

The foreign minister said the move greatly contributes to Hungary’s diversification efforts in energy supply.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that for the first time in history, natural gas deliveries have started from Azerbaijan to Hungary, which greatly contributes to Hungary’s diversification efforts in energy supply.

Speaking after a meeting of the Hungarian-Azeri mixed economic committee in Baku, Minister Szijjártó said both countries were hit hard by the effects of the war in Ukraine, but countries that can maintain good cooperation with the Caucasus region can adapt more successfully to the new conditions in energy supply, the ministry said in a statement. He noted that, by diversification, Hungary means securing new resources of energy supply, and this is mostly possible from the southeast, rather than excluding well-functioning agreements. This is why the European Union has been asked to participate in the necessary infrastructure development, but they declined to provide support, he added. “Therefore, from here on, Brussels has no say in where we fulfil our energy needs from; we will not accept any guidance or instructions on the matter,” Szijjártó said.
Following his talks with Azeri Minister of Labour Sahil Babayev, he said that a solution has nevertheless been found to the problem of diversification, partly thanks to Azerbaijan, as natural gas deliveries from that country have been started, in the amount of 55 million cubic metres in the first phase. “And we will continue this cooperation, … we will take an increased amount from Azerbaijan in order to ensure the security of our natural gas supply,” Szijjártó said. He noted that Hungarian oil and gas company MOL was already active in Azerbaijan, but its role will be further increased in the modernisation of extraction technologies and in the chemical industry. In a few years, Azeri renewable energy could also become part of Hungary’s energy mix, Szijjártó said, with the construction of the world’s longest submarine cable, for which there is already a joint commitment from Hungary, Romania, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The foreign minister added that there are no open political issues between Hungary and Azerbaijan, so all the conditions are set for developing economic relations, with both governments determined to do so. The ministry cited Minister Szijjártó telling a Hungarian-Azeri business forum in Baku that the crisis-ridden years of the recent period proved that it was the correct government decision to develop strategic cooperation between the two countries. Despite all the criticism Hungary received, it was ten years ahead with this compared to others. Recent years also showed that both the Hungarian and the Azeri governments were giving positive treatment to companies from each other’s country, he said. The 120 million euro record high trade turnover of last year has proven this, as well as the fact that both MVM and Mol are present in Azerbaijan and Richter has already signed the documents for contract manufacturing of ninety drugs, he said. Hunland is supplying cattle to the country and Hell will soon start building a factory there, he added. Serious preparations are underway to ensure Hungarian participation in railway, public road and hospital development projects, in water management, and Hungarian companies will be involved in rebuilding a settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh, he said. He also said that two hundred Azeri students get scholarships to study at Hungarian universities each year, which offers an excellent opportunity for strengthening relations. Commenting on the financial background of cooperation, he said the government had set up a central Asian investment fund and Eximbank launched a 50 million euro credit line which can be increased three-fold if necessary. “Our presence here in Azerbaijan is increasingly robust and therefore everything is given for further Hungarian business successes here,” he said. “We have with us here, among others, the best Hungarian agricultural, food industry, health industry, info-communications and water management companies that are ready for cooperation,” he added.