Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: MTI

Orbán meets Azeri president in Budapest

Hungary and Azerbaijan have raised cooperation to the level of a "priority strategic partnership", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, after talks with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Budapest on Monday.

Orbán and Aliyev said in a joint press statement that the two countries had decided to strengthen cooperation because “they see that Europe and the countries in contact with it have entered an era of dangers.” The international environment surrounding them is more dangerous than ever, they said.

Hungary’s need to diversify its energy supplies increases Azerbaijan’s importance, the statement said, welcoming Azerbaijan’s commitment to improving European energy security.

Orbán said the war in a neighbouring country and the EU sanctions had made European energy security vulnerable, “creating a particular state of emergency in Hungary”. That has boosted Azerbaijan’s importance for the bloc, “although it was already a friend of Hungary”.

Diversification is the only viable solution, he said. Delivering energy from Azerbaijan seems the most “realistic” option for European energy diversification, he said.

Under an agreement, the natural gas delivered from the country to Europe would be doubled by 2027, and another lays the groundwork to deliver electricity too, Orbán said. Both routes would run through Hungary, he added.

That makes energy cooperation between Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia a European rather than a regional issue, and so those countries expect EU support of the project accordingly, he said.

Aliyev said energy security was a global priority. Azerbaijan has enough resources to satisfy European demand reliably in the next 100 years, he said.

The strong ties between Hungary and Azerbaijan have yielded advantages for both countries as well as the whole of Europe, making stronger ties all the more important, he said.

Aliyev also invited Orbán to an official visit to Azerbaijan.

Orbán and Aliyev also signed agreements on cooperation on natural gas, agriculture, space research and on illegal migration.

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