As part of his two-day official visit, the Prime Minister met Azeri President Ilham Aliyev at the presidential palace near Baku.
In his press statement after the meeting Mr. Orbán highlighted that Hungary is aware of the economic difficulties caused by oil prices, but appreciates the way Azerbaijan is responding to the new situation. No one can pursue the same economic policy they followed before; everyone has to adapt to the new situation, and in this Hungary can be a good partner. In cooperation projects in fields such as agriculture, IT and energy, Azerbaijan can make good use of its extensive knowledge, he said.
Mr. Orbán stressed that Azerbaijan will emerge from the present situation as a stronger country, and will have a more diversified economy in which Hungary could also play a role, with the two countries strengthening their relations. He said that economic activity between the two countries has intensified recently, and this is why it makes sense to hold high-level political meetings every year, in order to give economic and cultural cooperation ever renewed impetus.
The Prime Minister said that during the present visit they had managed to strengthen friendship between the two nations and mutual respect between their leaders, and they had also created business opportunities which they can use to the benefit of both nations.
Mr. Orbán said that Azerbaijan has undergone enormous development compared to how it was at the beginning of the nineteen-nineties. This has been an outstanding period of growth. Azerbaijan has risen from an almost hopeless situation to join the ranks of the world’s best-respected and most envied countries, the Prime Minister said. He added that this has required luck, but also the people’s commitment, and leaders to guide the country through this difficult upward path.
The Prime Minister believes that, although the world is reluctant to acknowledge success, hard work and all the outstanding achievements will sooner or later find a way to wider appreciation. This can be seen in the case of Azerbaijan, for which recognition, importance and prestige have increased significantly in recent years. From a European perspective, one sees a stable, reliable and successful country which is committed to serving cooperation between East and West, a country which has a clear intellectual and spiritual background, but which is nonetheless able to incorporate a great many elements which are specific to European political systems. This is what has led to its enhanced prestige in recent years, Mr. Orbán said.
Ilham Aliyev said that Hungary is a close friend of Azerbaijan, and relations between the two countries are strategic in their nature. The relations between the two nations are continuously developing, and the high standard of political relations has an impact on all other areas, the President said.
The Azeri president believes that Hungary plays an important role in the development of cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan, and it is to be hoped that it will continue to support this process in the future.
He takes the view that economic cooperation, too, contributes to the foundations of political relations. He welcomed the fact that Hungarian exports to Azerbaijan increased last year, and informed the press that on Sunday they had explored opportunities for energy cooperation in detail.
Mr. Aliyev said that his country has major gas reserves which can enhance energy security and diversification, and this may further strengthen its relations with European countries.
He also drew attention to the opportunities inherent in agricultural cooperation, pointing out that Hungary’s experience is extremely useful, Hungarian agriculture is highly advanced, and the development of this sector is a priority for Azerbaijan.
The Azeri president added that Hungary is pursuing an independent policy which confines itself to serving the best interests of the Hungarian people, both in its external and internal policies. Hungary has recovered from the economic crisis extremely well, its government is protecting the interests of its people and is working towards the advancement of the country, and these efforts are supported by the people, Mr. Aliyev said.
As part of the visit, Mr. Orbán presented the Hungarian Order of Merit to Mehriban Aliyeva, head of the Haydar Aliyev Foundation. In his speech delivered on this occasion, he stressed that this medal is awarded by the President of Hungary, who embodies the unity of the nation and thereby expresses the appreciation of the entire Hungarian nation.
He said that Mehriban Aliyeva’s activity is known and recognised throughout the world; thanks to her work, in Hungary there are children being cared for in a home which provides them with a better life, and they think of her with affection. A Muslim institution has helped a Christian one, thereby forming a warm relationship and an alliance between the representatives of two cultures and religions, he said. The Prime Minister added that this is remarkable in a world where all the talk is about clashes between religions.
In expressing her thanks for the honour, Mehriban Aliyeva said that there is a friendship between the two countries which shapes their cooperation, and they have established relations with each other in many fields.
Earlier Mr. Orbán and his wife Anikó Lévai laid wreaths in the Alley of Honour at the grave of national leader Heydar Aliyev and of his wife, Zarifa Aliyeva.
As the last event of the visit, Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva gave a gala lunch in honour of the Hungarian delegation.