Hungary, Georgia discuss ‘major new energy cooperation’Reading Time: 2 minutes
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili signed a strategic partnership agreement and discussed responses to the energy crisis in Budapest on Thursday.
A key point on the agenda was the possibility of transiting electricity from Azerbaijan to Hungary via Georgia and Romania.
Orban said a new electricity cable network could be established between Azerbaijan and Hungary, adding that he and Garibashvili had agreed that Hungary could receive electricity directly, in place of the natural gas currently used to produce electricity.
The conservative Georgian premier added that his country will support the energy project, which he called of real significance to Hungary.
Hungary faces highest inflation since mid-90s
According to a joint statement by the prime ministers, both of whom are seen as among Europe’s most Kremlin-proximate leaders, increasing energy supplies can reduce prices. This is in Hungary’s basic interests, as the country is fighting inflation, this statement added.
Hungarian inflation soared to 20.1% year-on-year in September 2022. This represented a 15.6% rise month-on-month, and the highest rate registered since November 1996.
The delivery to Europe of as much energy from as many directions as possible is the long-term solution to the energy crisis, Orban said, claiming that a “large-scale new energy co-operation is unfolding”.
Orban decries EU’s rejection of Georgia
Orban meanwhile said the EU had recently made a “very poor and discriminatory” decision by not awarding Georgia EU member candidate status, when it recently did so for Moldova and Ukraine.
Garibashvili underlined that Georgia would like to join both the EU and NATO, adding that his country supports Ukraine in every possible aspect. The EU and Georgia signed an association agreement in June 2014.
Garibashvili said “Georgia and Georgian people have always been committed to this civilised choice… we want to become a full-fledged, dignified member of the European family.”
He added that Georgia is actively working to meet the European Commission’s 12 stipulations. “We opened the door for all actors, from the civil society sector to opposition parties, to get involved in the process.”
According to Orban, the decision was “inexplicable, morally unacceptable and harmful”, adding that Hungary will provide experts to help prepare negotiations.
Georgian FM welcomes plans to take bilateral relations to ‘new level’
Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili later said the official visit to Budapest held a special significance “as Hungary is an outstanding supporter of our country’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration”.
Next year Hungary and Georgia will hold a bilateral cabinet meeting in Tbilisi, to be preceded by a preparatory meeting of ministers and could give major impetus to bilateral economic co-operation, the countries announced.
Darchiashvili said the visit will bring “tangible results” for Georgia’s western integration, and “the current successful cooperation between the two countries will move to a new level”.
Trade and economic relations, as well as educational cooperation, will be top priorities in strengthening bilateral ties, Darchiashvili said.