Szijjarto: Hungary seeking energy cooperation with Venezuela
Hungary wants as few sanctions as possible to be imposed worldwide in the future, Szijjarto told a press conference held together with his Venezuelan counterpart, Yvan Gil, arguing that sanctions were mostly ineffective, but caused much damage and suffering for “everyday people who are not to blame for anything”.
“We want global cooperation and connectivity instead of sanctions,” Szijjarto said. “That’s why we’re glad that the United States has eased its sanctions on Venezuela.”
“We now urge the European Union to follow the example of the US and relax its own sanctions [on the country],” he said, noting that the EU has cut the time between reviews of its sanctions from one year to six months.
Hungary has maintained diplomatic ties with Venezuela for over half a century, and the Hungarian community in the country is the third largest in Latin America, the foreign ministry quoted Szijjarto as saying.
Hungary wants to take advantage of this, as well as Venezuela’s policy of opening to the rest of the world, and give new momentum to cooperation between the two countries, the minister said.
“We want to take advantage of the fact that Venezuela is now opening the door to energy cooperation,” Szijjarto said, adding that Hungary was exploring the possibility of importing LNG from the country. “We’ve entered into talks on the use of Hungarian oil extraction technologies in Venezuela,” he announced.
Szijjarto also said Hungary will offer scholarships to 25 Venezuelan university students each year starting in 2024. Also, the two countries will elevate their diplomatic ties to an ambassadorial level and the honorary consul in Caracas will be promoted to honorary consul general, he said.
Meanwhile, Szijjarto lamented that the world was dominated by increasingly severe conflicts and that international politics was mainly about “lecturing each other, disputes and sanctions”.
“We would like it if global politics finally returned to the basis of mutual respect,” he said.
As regards the war in Ukraine, Szijjarto noted that Hungary wanted peace as soon as possible, as only peace could “put an end to the suffering . save lives and end the destruction”.
“This war has severely weakened Europe, and we don’t want Europe to become even weaker,” he said. “And . we thank Venezuela for regularly underlining the importance of peace at international forums.”
Hungary, Venezuela to rebuild relations
Hungary has decided that it will rebuild its relations and cooperation with Venezuela, and will be among the first countries to do so in the interest of maximum benefit, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Caracas on Friday. According to a ministry statement, Szijjarto praised the stable foundations of Hungarian-Venezuelan ties, noting that tens of thousands of Hungarians had fled to the South American country after the second world war and the 1956 anti-communist uprising, where they received a lot of help in starting over. He said there were currently some 3,000 people of Hungarian origin living in Venezuela, making up the third most populous community in the area.
Based on this “historical link” and the international opening towards Venezuela, Hungary, too, has decided to rebuild its ties with the country, the minister said.
Venezuela is the world’s third largest oil producer, Szijjarto said, adding that Hungarian technologies could be used to boost the efficiency of oil production, and that representatives of oil and gas company MOL had accompanied him on his visit.
Venezuela is also increasing its natural gas output, and European interest in LNG imports is strong, he said, noting that representatives of Hungarian energy company MVM were also present and had entered into talks on opportunities for LNG imports.
“We have to be quick here, as the opening is also happening quickly, and as we can see, the western Europeans and the Americans like being first,” Szijjarto said. “It’s important that we, too, are here at the very beginning.”
Szijjarto noted that bilateral trade grew by 68 percent last year and that Hungarian water purification and medical equipment are already in use in Venezuela.
He said Hungary will offer scholarships to 25 Venezuelan university students each year starting in 2024. Also, the two countries will elevate their contact to the ambassadorial level and the honorary consul in Caracas will be promoted to honorary consul general, he said.
Szijjarto said Hungarian officials last paid a similar visit to Venezuela in 1992, and the timing of today’s visit was significant because of the increasingly serious conflicts in the world with countries engaged in disputes and “sanctioning each other”.
Hungary wants global politics to be about mutual respect in the coming period, rather than sanctions, Szijjarto said.
He said the sanctions currently in effect “aren’t really effective in achieving their goals, and are only causing a lot of damage and needless suffering”.
Hungary instead wants to see a period of global cooperation and connectivity, he added.
Szijjarto welcomed the United States’ decision to relax its sanctions on Venezuela, and that the Latin American country was intensifying its economic cooperation with Spain, Portugal and France.
“We urge the European Union to relax its sanctions on Venezuela as the US has done,” he said, noting that the EU has reduced the time between reviews of its sanctions to six months.
Meanwhile, Szijjarto said Budapest and Caracas shared similar views on the war in Ukraine, which coincided with the views of the global majority. He noted that both Hungary and Venezuela wanted urgent peace, arguing that the war could not be settled on the battlefield.