Speech of Márton Gyöngyösi on the conference of the Embassy of AzerbaijanWed, 2011-11-23 20:00
Azerbaijan: Hungary’s Gate to the East - The need for a strategic alliance
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, friends,
It is my great pleasure and honour to speak on this occasion in the circle of such prominent and notable guests. We have been hearing many contributions this morning and will be hearing many more in course of the two days about the success story of Azerbaijan in the field of economy, commerce, diplomacy, and social policy. Frankly, I listen to the long elaborations on Azerbaijan’s recent successes somewhat enviously, considering that success stories are a rather scarce phenomenon in the ex-Communist bloc – at least in our region of Central-Eastern Europe.
Although most panelists today speak of practical matters concerning independent Azerbaijan such as the economy, energy-policy, diplomacy and foreign policy, and sum up the twenty year balance of the ThirdRepublic, tomorrow culture and history, the ancient history of Azerbaijan will also be touched upon.
In the past twenty years – especially in the past decade – the prestige of Azerbaijan has significantly increased on the international stage. It is no exaggeration to say that Azerbaijan gained geopolitical importance. The key to success is a combination of factors. Some of these factors are God- or nature-given, but as we know from history this is rarely enough to make a successful country. Wisdom and strategic leadership are equally important if not crucial to national success.
True, Azerbaijan’s geographic location at the heart of the Caspian-Caucasian region, as well as its enormous resources of energy and hydrocarbons helped the process of emergence. It is unquestionable today that Azerbaijan is of utmost geopolitical importance for Europe and the West in both areas of energy supply and security policy. Azerbaijan’s role is key in European ambitions to diversify its energy supplies, hence its central role in the largest European energy projects of Nabucco and AGRI. As far as security policy is concerned, Azerbaijan’s relevance is highlighted by its successful bid for the UN Security Council’s non-permanent seat in 2011.
The above factors, however, can rarely contribute to a nation’s success if uncertainty and instability prevail. This is the reason why I am convinced that political, social and economic stability in Azerbaijan was the single most important factor in the country’s success. In order to achieve stability in the post-Soviet era it was inevitable that the leaders of Azerbaijan go through the process of redefining and determining the goals of the nation, which is inevitable in finding a country’s place in times of transition.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!
Hungary and Azerbaijan have much in common. This means that relations between the two countries should not be limited to a loose cooperation facilitated through the framework of the European Union, but instead a close partnership and alliance based on bilateral ties. Not only do our countries share the difficult experience of post-Socialist transition. The size of the Hungarian and Azerbaijani nation is similar, the territory that it occupies likewise. Both nations are relatively homogenous with a significant portion of the nation living outside the borders of the motherland: also in classical diaspora, but greater in number are those living in neighbouring territories resulting from tragic circumstances of violence and aggression, war and unjust peace settlements. The similarity of the two country’s national tragedies is striking, especially considering its national and wider international consequences. I believe that our nation that suffered greatly from the Trianon peace dictate that triggering lasting and unresolved distress till this day, is in a much better position in understanding Azerbaijan’s national tragedies such as the loss of Nagorno-Karabah, and the genocide committed by Armenia in this region. Solidarity and mutual assistance in bringing to the forefront of international debate and discussion two of the great injustices of the twentieth century is an important ground for cooperation in the field of diplomacy, foreign policy and academic, historical, cultural research. Not only similarities in our most recent past, but also our common roots, evidenced by modern scientific research, provide an important basis for the closest alliance between our countries.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!
After the fall of the Iron Curtain Hungary has been searching for its place and position on the international stage. This period was characterized by heated debate about the future and the nature of the new world order. Naive idealists talked about the inevitable formation of a uni-polar world order centred around the Western hemisphere, and its leader the U.S.A. These idealists talked about the “end of history”, as all ideological battles come to an end with the unequivocal victory of Western values, liberal democracy and neoliberal economic policy. Cooler headed realists, on the other hand, cautiously talked about the formation of a multi-polar, balanced world order based on various culture-based civilisations. If we observe the developments in the world in the past two decades, there is no question that the latter scenario reflects reality. In this context it must be stated that the entirely one-sided Euroatlanticist foreign policy of post-Communist Hungary represented in complete unison by conservative and left-liberal governments was a strategic failure.
For a small country like Hungary lying at the crossroads of continents and civilisations it makes sense only to have a balanced foreign policy. A balanced approach makes even more sense in the case of a nation that has a well-founded double identity: Hungarians are – geographically speaking – unquestionably and integrally part of the West as one of the oldest nation states of the European continent; nonetheless, Hungarians are Asian, Turanian people with strong and deep Asian roots. Would anybody dare question the validity of this identity, who knows Hungarian folk music, folk dance, folk tales and mythology, who speaks our language or tasted our cuisine? Or, who is familiar with most recent genetic, anthropological or archaeological research? With a turn towards the East Hungary could not only benefit economically and commercially, but also emotionally and spiritually by strengthening ties with brotherly Turanian nations.
This is why I personally, and Jobbik Movement for a Better Hungary have been advocating the need for an Eastern turn in Hungarian foreign policy. In this process Azerbaijan is the gate of Hungary to the East, hence a strategic alliance between our nations is necessary.
Thank you for your attention.
Leader of Jobbik’s foreign affairs committee
Vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament
Chairman of the Azerbaijani-Hungarian Friendship Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)