Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary-Turkey cooperation ‘great help in overcoming difficulties’

Cooperation between Hungary and Turkey is a "great help in overcoming difficulties", the minister of foreign affairs and trade said after a meeting of the Hungarian-Turkish economic mixed committee in Budapest on Monday.

Without cooperation with Turkey, Hungary’s energy security would not be guaranteed and the country would not have achieved several of its economic records last year, the foreign ministry cited Peter Szijjarto as saying at a joint press conference with Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank.

Central and eastern Europe are facing enormous difficulties due to the war in Ukraine and the related sanctions, Szijjarto said.

“The region is seeing uncertainty, brutal price increases and supply issues both in the economy and energy supply,” the minister said. “The cooperation between Turkey and Hungary has been and will continue to be . a great help in overcoming these challenges.”

As a neighbour of Ukraine, Hungary’s interest lies in peace being achieved there as soon as possible, Szijjarto said. “Every decision, measure and statement that leads to the prolongation or escalation of the war is against Hungary’s national interests,” he added.

“Peace is needed, and peace requires talks, which requires mediators,” Szijjarto said, expressing Hungary’s appreciation of Turkey’s successful mediation in the resumption of grain exports.

Turning to energy, Szijjarto said the TurkStream gas pipeline was what guaranteed Hungary’s energy security, saying it was the only east-west pipeline in Europe operating with 100 percent capacity.

Hungary received 4.8 billion cubic metres of gas via the TurkStream pipeline last year, which covers around half of the country’s total consumption, he said, adding that the loss of this delivery route would make it impossible for Hungary to get the gas it needs.

Szijjarto also emphasised the importance of diversification, the inclusion of new energy sources and the construction of new pipelines. The most realistic options, he said, were natural gas from Azerbaijan and liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming in to Turkish ports. Talks are already under way between state-owned energy company MVM and its Turkish partner on the volume and scheduling of LNG imports by Hungary, he said. The minister also noted that gas imports from Azerbaijan would require infrastructure developments, for which he said he expected support from the European Union.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto noted that both Hungary and Turkey are building nuclear plants with the same partner and technology. He welcomed that all sixteen heat pumps for the four reactors being built in Turkey are made in Hungary.

As regards economic challenges, Szijjarto said Turkish-Hungarian cooperation had contributed significantly to keeping Hungary’s GDP growth rate above the European average in the recent period and helping the country achieve record investments, exports and employment.

Bilateral trade turnover reached a new record last year, he said, adding that there are now some 100 Turkish companies in Hungary employing close to 2,200 people. Turkey’s VakifBank has opened a branch in Budapest and the two countries are holding a joint cultural season in 2024, Szijjarto said. In 2025, the two countries will celebrate Hungarian-Turkish science and technology and there are many Hungarian companies benefitting from opportunities in Turkey, Szijjarto added.

The minister then presented Varank with the Medium Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary in recognition of his role in Hungarian-Turkish cooperation.

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