Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Honourable President Aliyev, Dear Friends from Azerbaijan,
It is always an event of great renown whenever the leadership of Azerbaijan meets the leaders of Hungary. The President and I have been working for more than a decade to ensure that the depth and breadth of relations between our two countries are worthy of the two countries. This occasion, however, has not simply been a friendly meeting, but a meeting that has revolved around strategic issues. As a result, our existing strategic cooperation has been raised up a level to the status of priority strategic cooperation. We have done this because both countries are well aware that not only has Europe entered an age of dangers, but that this is also true for the regions of the world connected to Europe. What distinguishes this meeting from previous ones is that the environment in which it has come about – the international relations that surround us – is more dangerous than ever before. The war in a country neighbouring Hungary and the sanctions imposed by Brussels in response to it have also created a particular danger for Hungary, and that danger is the vulnerability of Europe’s energy security. This circumstance means that the increase in Azerbaijan’s standing has reached escape velocity. Azerbaijan was already a friend of ours, but now it has become a strategically important country for the whole of Europe. This is because everyone in Europe knows that the only promising route forward from the situation we now live in is diversification: supplying Europe’s energy needs from as many sources and through as many routes as possible. The President and I have just been looking back on our experiences from ten or more years ago, when both countries were already in favour of energy coming from Azerbaijan to Europe. Back then the plan that failed to materialise was called the Nabucco plan. I hope that one day historians will have time to find out exactly why the idea of a corridor to bring energy from the south to Europe failed, long before the Russo-Ukrainian war. In the current situation it is obvious that the most realistic scenario for diversification is to transport energy to Europe which has been extracted and produced in Azerbaijan. Therefore we welcome and appreciate Azerbaijan’s commitment to improving energy security in Europe, the signing of an agreement with the European Union to double the amount of natural gas coming from Azerbaijan to Europe by 2027, and the signing of another agreement to supply electricity from Azerbaijan to Europe. If you look at the map, you will see that both natural gas and electricity coming from Azerbaijan will have to pass through Hungary, and so Hungary will also be a beneficiary in this new situation. Of course Azerbaijan will be valued first and foremost, but Hungary will also gain in importance as a country on the transport route. And we are happy that, with regard to Europe’s energy supply, Hungary is not part of the problem, but part of the solution. We also know, of course, that major infrastructure developments are needed, and we are talking about huge sums of money and investments. We have also started cooperation between the Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian and Slovakian energy system operators in order to create the right financial conditions for these huge investments. It is very clear that from now on cooperation in the energy sector between Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians or Slovaks is not a regional issue, but a pan-European issue; because we can supply the whole of Europe through these countries, and we expect the European Commission to support these projects accordingly. I would also like to remind you that in Bucharest recently I signed an agreement with the President on the laying of the world’s longest undersea electricity cable, through which we will import green electricity produced in Azerbaijan to the European continent, as part of an Azeri-Georgian-Romanian-Hungarian cooperation. These are the new circumstances that have justified another meeting between the leaders of our two countries.
I am grateful to the President for honouring us with his visit. When one has a lot of electricity and natural gas, nowadays one’s friends naturally multiply. But our friendship goes back further: we are not energy friends, but both of us are guardians and shapers of the friendship between the Azeri people and the Hungarian people. I am grateful to the President for the opportunity to work with him over the years, and I hope that this will continue in the future.