Thank you very much.
Madam President, Presidents, Prime Minister,
First of all, I thank the President of Romania for inviting me here. I am back in Bucharest after eight years, and I can see the substantial progress that has been made. I congratulate our Romanian friends on this. I have to say that this progress merits Romania’s membership of the Schengen Area. In the European Union we have made the wrong decision. This bad decision must be corrected, and Romania must be admitted to the zone as soon as possible. I would like to assure the President that our Romanian friends can count on Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The situation in Europe is more unsettled now than it has been at any time in living memory. There is a war in a neighbouring country, in a country bordering Romania and Hungary. There is a deep energy crisis, which is not only a price crisis, but also a supply crisis. Meanwhile inflation is sweeping across the entire European economy. Meanwhile European leaders – whether we like it or not – have decided to decouple the Russian and European economies from each other. And meanwhile an unprecedented series of market protection measures in the United States has begun, which will also hit Europe. This is the situation that we are in. We have seen the end of an era in Europe’s economic history during which we imported cheap raw materials and energy from Russia in exchange for Western technology, which resulted in economic growth and military security for both sides. That era is over, but there is no new strategy. At the moment we are in a strategic vacuum and it is in this situation that we, as leaders, must ensure that we create economic and energy security for our nations. We are sitting here together because we agree that the solution is to look for new sources of energy and to bring them to Europe; but diversification will remain a dream until we have created the physical conditions for interconnection. In the region of the Caspian Sea there are energy sources bordering Europe, within reasonable reach. It is either a great stroke of luck or an example of the European Commission’s wisdom that recently we have focused a great deal of attention on Azerbaijan and have developed cooperation, and we are very lucky that Azerbaijan and President Aliyev have always been open to cooperation with the EU. And for more than a decade my experience has been that the European Union can always count on Azerbaijan as a reliable partner. We are proud, Hungary is proud, that we can commit ourselves to a globally unique project. When a strategic vacuum is created, innovation becomes more important – it is the only solution; and we are now preparing to build the longest undersea electricity supply line in the world. This is true innovation. If we were thirty years younger, I would say that this is real rock and roll: building the longest underwater power line in the world.
We would like to thank our friends from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania – and also the President of the European Commission – for the opportunity to conclude this energy cooperation agreement today on behalf of Hungary.