Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Azeri gas to play key role in guaranteeing Hungary’s energy security

The increased natural gas production in Azerbaijan can play an important role in the energy security of Hungary and central Europe, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Tuesday, adding that this required regional infrastructure developments supported by the European Union.

The severe energy crisis has made Azerbaijan more important for Europe, Szijjarto told a press conference held jointly with Azerbaijan’s economy minister, according to a foreign ministry statement. He argued that increased natural gas production in the South Caucasus country was the best option for Europe to diversify its gas supplies in the short and medium term.

“It has become clear to everyone that it’s no longer enough to just talk about so-called diversification, but it is something we are forced to do,” Szijjarto said. “If Europe can’t acquire new energy sources, if it can’t build new energy supply routes, then energy supply won’t be secure.”

It is in Hungary’s interest to incorporate Azeri energy sources into its energy mix as soon as possible, the minister said, adding that this required large-scale infrastructure developments in south-eastern and central Europe, too.

New interconnectors have to be built and delivery capacities have to be increased, Szijjarto said. This requires EU support and resources, he added.

Szijjarto said Hungary has turned to the European Commission together with Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, asking Brussels to treat the matter as a priority and provide support for the developments needed to guarantee the region’s energy security.

He welcomed Azerbaijan’s aim to double gas supplies to Europe by 2027. He also underscored the importance of creating the contractual and physical conditions needed to deliver the gas from the southern corridor to the central part of Europe.

Szijjarto said this situation would make it clear whether the EU had only been paying lip service to diversification and the importance of central Europe’s energy security, or if it was actually prepared to take steps to guarantee it.

Both sides are politically committed to the gas deliveries, Szijjarto said, adding that the Hungarian government was hopeful that Azeri gas could start contributing to Hungary’s energy security as soon as possible. Talks between Hungarian and Azeri energy companies are already under way, he added.

Szijjarto said the foundations for a gas supply agreement were sound, noting that Hungary and Azerbaijan already had a strategic partnership. This, he added, will be raised to the next level during a visit by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev this month, he added.

He said that whereas the Hungarian opposition had criticised the government’s initial talks on developing cooperation with Azerbaijan over a decade ago, leading European politicians were now all wanted “to have their photo taken with the Azeri president”.

“The world has changed a lot over the past decade, but we still hold the same position as in the past,” Szijjarto said.

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