Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary, Azerbaijan to step up cooperation

Gas deliveries could start from Azerbaijan to Hungary this year, and the two countries have agreed that Hungarian companies should have a role in rebuilding Nagorno-Karabakh, stepping up bilateral cooperation in two strategic sectors, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday, after a meeting of the Hungarian-Azeri economic cooperation committee.

Szijjarto told a joint press conference with Azeri Labour Minister Sahil Babayev that with the political agreement in place, “technological and trade conditions will allow for gas deliveries from Azerbaijan to start this year,” greatly increasing that country’s role in Hungarian energy security.

Hungary might receive some 100 million cubic meters of Azeri natural gas this year, he said. The agreement also contains the possibility of a long-term contract on the delivery of 1-2 billion cubic meters of gas annually in the coming years, he said.

Regarding the infrastructure developments necessary for the project, Szijjarto said: “If the European Union is serious about gas supply diversification and about bringing in new resources, then it will have to provide the resources to develop the infrastructure in southeast Europe.”

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is also present in the country, and some 15 percent of its production comes from an oil field it is a co-owner of, he said.

The agreement will also allow Hungarian companies to take part in the reconstruction of war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh, he said. Hungarian companies are “ready to take part in reconstruction of infrastructure, health care and public services”, he said.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, Szijjarto said Hungary and Azerbaijan both have an interest in brokering peace and have keenly felt the impact of the conflict.

“We call on the international community to concentrate on bringing about an immediate ceasefire and to launch peace talks,” he said. Skyrocketing energy prices, war-time inflation and food supply difficulties should prompt the EU to provide aid, he said. “Instead, all we got were sanctions, and some member states even call for the restrictions to be extended to the field of energy supplies,” he said. Hungary opposes that proposal, “because energy security is a priority for Hungary”, he said.

Responding to a question on his visit to Belarus on Monday, Szijjarto said he had delivered a message on ceasefire and peace talks. “I asked my Belarusian partner not to take steps … that could lead to the war drawing out or expanding geographically,” he said.

“If I wanted to talk to the Russians, I’d go to Moscow and would report on the meeting … Neither I nor any member of my delegation had talks with anyone apart from our Belarusian partners,” he said.

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