Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his meeting with Serdar Berdimuhamedow, President of Turkmenistan

9 June 2023, Aşgabat

Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President,

Relations between Turkmenistan and Hungary are predictable, reliable and based on mutual respect. Accordingly, we came here to you with good intentions and with a plan to broaden and deepen cooperation between our two countries. I thank the President for his invitation and his willingness to cooperate. I can inform you that I have invited the President to Hungary, he has accepted my invitation, and we hope that this visit will take place soon.

I do not want to hide the fact that our visit here to you has taken place in a very difficult international context. International political life is in disarray. The pandemic had already disrupted international relations, but the war between Ukraine and Russia has made matters even more difficult. I am happy to be in a country which, like Hungary, is in favour of peace, and which is striving for the soonest possible resolution of this conflict and for the return of peace in international diplomacy. The current situation has also disrupted traditional economic relations. It may even usher in a new era in the global economy. From our perspective, from the European perspective, these changes have enhanced the role of the Central Asian region. The classic East-West transport and supply routes have been broken, and we need to look for new routes and new partners. This is true in all respects, but it is particularly true in the field of energy. The current situation is increasing the value of the whole Central Asian region, and there is a good chance that this region will become the bridge between East and West. We supported Turkmenistan’s resolution at the UN, initiated at the UN General Assembly, which declared 2023 to be the International Year of Dialogue as a Guarantee of Peace. We need energy to come from Central Asia to Europe. We need new sources, new routes and new infrastructure. Turkmenistan can be a great partner for Europe and Hungary. You can make a significant contribution to the diversification of our energy supply, but it will not be easy, because we have to solve complex infrastructure and transport issues that are outside the competence of our two countries.  We therefore have an interest in resolving the outstanding issues around the Caspian Sea as soon as possible. Europe and Hungary have an interest in connecting the two shores of the Caspian Sea as soon as possible with the densest possible infrastructure. And I have made it clear to the President that we are encouraging the institutions of the European Union, urging them to finally bring into force the European Union-Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed 25 years ago. In such a difficult situation – in such a difficult situation in Europe, when Europe is cutting itself off from Russian energy sources – it is simply unacceptable that, after 25 years, we have still not signed a partnership agreement which, in this new situation, is of important economic interest to Europe.

I thanked the President for his support for Hungarian economic actors here in Turkmenistan. We are proud that Hungary has committed itself to supplying the lion’s share in your pharmaceuticals market. After the talks we feel that, in addition to energy cooperation, there is an opportunity for cooperation in water management and the water industry; and we agreed that both sides will propose ever more areas of economic cooperation to each other.

This has been a great visit for us. We rarely come here to see you. Your great culture is not known deeply and widely enough in Europe. Today we have improved this situation a little, accepting invitations to Turkmen cultural events in the near future. We would like to launch the promotion and teaching of the Hungarian language here in your country. And in the next few years we would like to see the establishment of political and economic relations between our two countries, in line with the strength and depth of our historical kinship. I feel that for Hungary your President is a guarantee of this.

Honourable President,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here.