The bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Hungary that are both strategic and friendly, provide strong, solid foundations for developing our economic cooperation, Hungarian Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Viktor Szederkényi told Trend.
“Just before the pandemic, we managed to hold the 7th session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation in February 2020, which determined the priority areas for the upcoming years. Despite the difficulties, we were able to maintain the level of the trade turnover between our countries last year, but obviously, there is still a huge potential to expand bilateral trade, so it could reflect the high political importance we attach to the partnership with Azerbaijan,” he said.
Last year, Szederkényi noted, Hungary managed to complete its biggest ever investment of nearly $1.5 billion in Azerbaijan.
“The Hungarian MOL Group became the third-largest stakeholder in the ACG oil field and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. I believe this cooperation can expand to new areas. Also, Hungarian pharmaceutical brands, like Gedeon Richter and EGIS had been well known in Azerbaijan for decades and the popular HELL energy drinks are Hungarian products as well,” Szederkényi said.
He also added that Hungary usually aims at joint projects that bring mutual benefits.
“Hungarian companies are already engaged in the agriculture and IT sectors in Azerbaijan, we also focus on areas, like smart/green urban solutions, energy efficiency, and water management, where Hungarian companies offer innovative technologies and know-how that we are ready to share,” Szederkényi added.
Szederkényi noted that in many areas, the two countries can build on existing or previous cooperation, including in the energy sector which is of strategic importance for both our countries.
“Besides our investment in the oil industry, Hungary is interested in including Azerbaijani gas in our future energy mix. This was reiterated by Minister Szijjártó at the 7th ministerial meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council on February 11. We welcome the successful completion of the Southern Gas Corridor which has a positive effect on Europe’s energy security,” he said.
Talking about the COVID-19 affecting the already existing cooperation between the countries, Szederkényi said that naturally, the restrictions affected some bilateral work, as there were fewer personal exchanges, some consultations, visits had to be postponed.
“But we tried to adapt to these – hopefully only temporary – new realities and the development of business relations remained high on our agenda, so even throughout the pandemic period contacts continued at all levels,” he said.
The reconstruction of Azerbaijan’s territories will create new opportunities for deepening economic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Hungary.
Following over a month of military action to liberate its territories from Armenian occupation from late Sept. to early Nov. 2020, Azerbaijan has pushed Armenia to sign the surrender document. A joint statement on the matter was made by the Azerbaijani president, Armenia's PM, and the president of Russia.
A complete ceasefire and a cessation of all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were introduced on Nov. 10, 2020.
Szederkényi noted that Hungary was among the first countries to express interest in participating in this, in his words, truly giant endeavor.
“On January 14, this year, a videoconference was held on this topic between the Co-Chairs of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Mr. Péter Szijjártó, and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Azerbaijan, Mr. Sahil Babayev,” he said.
Szederkényi noted that during the online meeting the ministers have identified the potential spheres of cooperation, such as infrastructural, urban, and agricultural development.
“During the videoconference, Minister Szijjártó announced that a 100 million dollars credit line is available by our EXIM Bank to support Hungarian companies who are interested to take part in the reconstruction,” he said.
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