Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Prime Minister and the members of the Georgian delegation. I can tell representatives from the press here that yesterday evening we had a long meeting in private, followed by formal talks. In Hungary there is a strong prejudice in favour of Georgia, so there are excellent cultural foundations for our talks. Although our two countries are far apart, as we are in the Carpathians and they are in the Caucasus, our geopolitical situations have very many similarities. For a Hungarian it is not difficult to understand the leitmotif of Georgian history, and nor is it difficult for a Georgian to understand the leitmotif of Hungarian history. Each of our nations boasts a great culture, great cultural traditions and a unique language; and both of us need to maintain our culture and our language, while surrounded by a ring of nations larger than we are. And I told the Prime Minister that if you ask a Hungarian why he or she is in the world, the simple answer is that there must continue to be someone who speaks the Hungarian language and who preserves Hungarian culture – even though in our larger political sphere we need to pay attention to Istanbul, to Berlin and to Moscow. And our mission, our higher purpose, is to ensure that our culture and our language do not perish. Seen from Hungary, it is not difficult to understand the history of Georgia and the mission inherent in its existence. If we were now living through normal times in European politics, we would be holding a great celebration today: this is the 30th anniversary of the establishment of renewed relations between our two nations. But now are not normal times: we are living through an unprecedented security, economic and energy crisis. And so instead of celebrating, we are holding talks.
I will briefly inform you of the progress we have made. First of all, I am pleased to say that when it comes to geopolitics, war and peace, our positions are very close. In relation to the Ukrainian-Russian war, we Hungarians want an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations as soon as possible. This is very similar to the Georgian approach. The other important issue that we discussed was the European Union aspirations of the Prime Minister’s compatriots, as they would like to become part of the European Union and to be part of European integration. Here, we all know that in Brussels recently a very bad decision was taken, a discriminatory decision, when we granted EU candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine, but did not grant candidate status to Georgia. This is an inexplicable, morally unacceptable and damaging decision. Our guests have earned candidate status through their hard work over the years, and such a dismissive decision from Europe, from Brussels, is disrespectful to the people and nation of Georgia. What can we do in this situation? We shall continue to support the earliest possible granting of candidate status, we shall continue to support Georgia’s membership of the EU, and we shall continue to provide experts to their government: sixteen Hungarians are working in the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia, and we regularly send experts to help them prepare for negotiations.
The most important issue we discussed, however, was energy. I would like to inform the Hungarian public that a new, far-reaching energy cooperation project is taking shape – one in which we Hungarians have a special interest. We want to create a huge new electricity supply system, the essence of which would be to bring energy from Azerbaijan to Hungary via Georgia and Romania. This would allow us to replace a large amount of natural gas: natural gas that today we use to generate electricity in Hungary. If we could receive this electricity directly, we would not need to buy and use gas. I am pleased to note that the Prime Minister fully supports this programme, which is a key issue for Hungarian interests. We are convinced that the way to ride out the energy crisis and high energy prices – to power through – is to bring as much energy into the European Union as possible. We can also try to introduce regulations, but I do not think that will lead to results – or if it does, only in the short term. The long-term solution is to have as much energy coming into the European continent from as many directions as possible. This increased supply can bring prices down, which is a fundamental interest for Hungary, because Hungary is fighting inflation, caused to a considerable extent by high energy prices.
Finally, I would like to inform you that we have agreed with the Prime Minister that next year we will hold a joint cabinet meeting. There will be a joint Georgian-Hungarian government meeting in his country. This will be preceded by a meeting of relevant ministers, who will prepare the joint government meeting, with which we want to give a major boost to economic cooperation between our two countries.
I would also like to publicly thank the Prime Minister for his visit to Hungary. It is a great honour for us to play host to him here. Thank you for the opportunity for these talks and for spending time with us. We wish Georgia, its government and the Georgian people every success.
Thank you for your attention.