11 november 2014, 22:25
Ilham Aliyev and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attended the Hungarian-Azerbaijani business forum
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attended the business forum.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Peter Szijjarto, who moderated the forum, briefed the event participants about Azerbaijan, the region where the country is situated. He highlighted economic development processes that have taken place in Azerbaijan in recent years. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto underlined that growth rate achieved in Azerbaijan in the past decade continues and it will give a serious impetus to the development of many fields. The Minister noted that successful political and economic cooperation was established between Azerbaijan and Hungary, underlining the importance of the business forum. He pointed out that it will make an important contribution to bilateral cooperation.
Speech by President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
-Distinguished Mr. Prime Minister!
Dear Minister, dear friends!
The minister noted in his speech that we signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership today. This is a historic document primarily because it determines the future of Hungarian-Azerbaijani relations. The Declaration reflects practically all areas. We rightly call each other strategic partners. At the same time, the essence of this document is that Hungary as a member of the European Union has adopted the Declaration together with Azerbaijan. Thus, there is excellent support for the document governing possible future relations between the European Union and Azerbaijan.
I want to emphasize one point here because the representatives of business organizations of the two countries represented here know very well that the expansion of business opportunities and ease of business require the two countries to have very warm relations. Businesses feel comfortable and do better in friendly countries.
Our bilateral relations are at the highest level. In previous years we held numerous meetings with Mr. Prime Minister. He has been to Azerbaijan twice. This is my third visit to Hungary. Over a short period of time we have established a strategic partnership in the full sense of the word. Today, these relations are entering a new phase. Thus, political ties create excellent opportunities for you. You need to make the best of these opportunities. I would like the number of Hungarian companies in Azerbaijan to increase. A lot has been done in recent years to achieve that. In a short period of time our trade has significantly increased and there are opportunities for further growth.
The agreements signed at the business forum are also of specific nature and cover various spheres. Thus, the activities of Hungarian companies in Azerbaijan will be even more effective in the future. We want Hungarian companies to be involved in all our projects. There are many projects. A lot is being done in Azerbaijan, there is extensive investment. Last year alone, $28 billion was invested in the country's economy. Of this, 70 percent is domestic investment. The vast majority of domestic investment is made by the state. These investments are made in infrastructure projects – construction, transport, agriculture. Hungarian companies have extensive experience in these areas and a great reputation in the world. This is how I see the future cooperation between our businesses. Hungarian companies are invited to Azerbaijan both to make investments – this should be of interest to both sides, there is an intention on both sides – and as contractors.
Business forums have been held several times before, but heads of state are attending such an event for the first time. By this participation we actually demonstrate our interests and policies. We want our great political ties to be supplemented with strong economic relations. There are all the possibilities to achieve that. What sectors can Hungarian companies work the most successfully in? I think they can succeed in the field of energy because there will be a very close cooperation between us in this area in the future. The Southern Gas Corridor project Azerbaijan is implementing represents a great opportunity for our region and Europe. New contracts will be implemented and a lot of construction work carried out. At least $45 billion is to be invested within the project framework. Hungarian companies should, of course, take part in these projects. There are great opportunities in the transport sector.
I know that Hungarian companies will work to create the transport infrastructure in Azerbaijan. Next year we will complete a railway project which is of great importance not only for our region, but also the world. This railway links Asia with Europe. As you know, Azerbaijan is a country located between Asia and Europe. This railway will significantly increase the freight traffic. In Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, we have built a new large commercial seaport with a cargo handling capacity of 25 million tons when it becomes fully operational. So there are broad opportunities in the transport sector.
Hungary has extensive experience in the fields of energy and agriculture. We also attach great importance to the development of agriculture. We issue numerous subsidies in order to provide ourselves with agricultural products by 100 percent and not depend on imports. There is cooperation in this area. There are excellent results.
Among the agreements signed today I want to emphasize the one relating to the information and communication sector. Azerbaijan is investing heavily in this area. The first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite "Azerspace-1" has already been launched into orbit. We are working to put the second and third satellites into orbit, so there are opportunities in this area. These are promising sectors. Hungarian companies can take quite an active part in the implementation of infrastructure projects in these fields. I know that Hungarian companies will cooperate with us in Azerbaijan in improving the water management system, as well as other areas – construction of local roads, highways and railways. All these industries are incorporated in the short-term program on the development of Azerbaijan. You just need to join these projects. I want to repeat what I said at the beginning of my remarks: the relations between us today are at such a high level that both Azerbaijani and Hungarian investors and companies will feel comfortable. This is guaranteed by the leaders of the two countries who are here with you today.
As for the overall development of Azerbaijan, I can say that it is a very dynamic development. Recent years have seen tremendous economic development. The economic situation is stable. The ongoing global economic and financial crisis has not had a significant impact on Azerbaijan. We managed to achieve economic growth even during the crisis years. The Davos World Economic Forum ranks the economy of Azerbaijan in 38th place in terms of competitiveness. This is a result of the reforms we have carried out. Although Azerbaijan's economy still depends on the oil and gas until factor, this dependence is not so great. The share of the oil and gas sector in our gross domestic product is about 45 percent, maybe even less.
We want to diversify the economy. To achieve this, the government invests heavily in infrastructure projects, supports the establishment of industrial enterprises, allocates favorable loans to the private sector, and attracts foreign investors and companies to share their experience with us. The dynamic development of Azerbaijan creates ample opportunities for the business circles of the country, because our future economic development will also be positive.
It is possible to say that Azerbaijan is completely doing away with unemployment – it is at a level of about 5 percent. There is political stability. There can be no talk of development without political stability. Currently, the countries experiencing difficulties are undergoing political crises. Investors will never invest in these countries. No country can develop without investment today. There is competition and struggle for investment now. Therefore, this field in Azerbaijan has great opportunities. There is a well-planned strategy of the state and government. We need to continue pursuing dynamic development, while the dependence on oil and gas should be reduced to the minimum. It is not so easy to achieve this because the planned implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor will further enhance Azerbaijan’s oil and gas potential in the future. Thus, the non-oil sector must constantly strive to leave the oil sector behind.
Hungary has excellent investment opportunities. Our companies and government agencies are studying them. I am sure that together, with the direct participation and on the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Commission, investment projects will be implemented too. Thus, we will determine a framework for an even closer cooperation. Political relations are at a high level. Therefore, the economic sphere must certainly see even greater development. I am confident that we will achieve that.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Azerbaijani people, I want to express our deep respect for Hungary and the Hungarian people once again. We follow the developments in Hungary with interest. Your experience shows once again that where the government protects national interests, the people protect such a government. Hungary today is a symbol of independence in the region. Please know that in different parts of the world there are people watching your activities and looking at you, that your friends are rejoicing in your successes, including us, Azerbaijan. My friend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who won a landslide victory in the recent parliamentary elections, confidently runs the country, while the votes cast for him are the votes for national interests. At the present stage, particularly in some international organizations, it is not so easy to conduct an independent policy. But the people see and evaluate the work done. We are pleased with that. This suggests that your future will be very successful and bright. We, as your friends, will be happy to see it.
Once again I express my gratitude to you for the hospitality extended to me and all the guests from Azerbaijan. I would like to invite you all to Azerbaijan. Thank you.
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban underlined that humanity is going through the difficult period presently and that conflicts are going on in many corners of the globe. He touched upon the influence of the 2008 economic crisis on Hungary. Viktor Orban dwelled upon business ties between Azerbaijan and Hungary, and stressed the two countries` intention to march in step in the name of cooperation. The Prime Minister said Azerbaijan is a secular country and that both Azerbaijan and Hungary attach much significance to traditional values, adding Azerbaijan achieved great economic accomplishments. Having stressed that “Azerbaijan used its energy resources to achieve great achievements in ensuring the development in other fields”, Viktor Orban emphasized the importance of the agreements signed. The Prime Minister highlighted the significance of the construction of the Southern Gas Corridor, and said that supplying the Azerbaijani gas to Europe is of great importance. “Azerbaijan is a friendly country to us,” said the Prime Minister and shared his views on the future of the European Union and Eurozone.
The forum featured the signing of various documents on cooperation, exchange of information between the Azerbaijani and Hungarian companies, mutual support in the organization of events, creation of companies, development and management of real estate, contribution to the development of new and innovative ICT and high tech enterprises. The issues relating to agriculture, cattle breeding and hunting as well as transport and water supply were also reflected in the documents signed.
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