BAKU—Three months after extraditing axe-murderer Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan, where he was pardoned and pronounced a national hero, Hungary opened its first ever trade office in Baku earlier this month in hopes of advancing economic relations with the very government that applauds ethnically motivated murder.
Safarov, who was serving a sentence in Budapest for murdering an Armenian officer Gurgen Hayrapetian in 2004 during a NATO Partnership for Peace program, was promoted in the Azeri Army. The White House, Brussels and other international entities condemned the extradition and the subsequent pardon of the axe-murderer.
“The trading house was established in Azerbaijan as the two countries are strategic partners,” said Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s foreign minister during the opening ceremony of the office, reported AzerNews.
He said the first reason of opening the House in Baku is the strategic cooperation between the two countries and the second is compliance of the supply for the Hungarian economy with Azerbaijan’s demand.
Szijjarto said one of the major goals of the event was to develop cooperation between Azerbaijan and medium-sized businesses from Hungary, which is required to further export their products to Azerbaijan.
A Hungarian delegation headed by Szijjarto, which consisted of economic, banking and tourism sectors’ representatives, took part in an Azerbaijani-Hungarian business forum on the same day.
Azerbaijani Economic Development Minister Shahin Mustafayev told the business forum that political relations between Azerbaijan and Hungary are at a high level and there is potential for their further development, which is confirmed by numerous visits and meetings.
Mustafayev said that the two countries have signed some 30 documents, which creates favorable conditions for the development of Azerbaijani-Hungarian economic relations, noting that they have the potential for developing cooperation in investment, construction, pharmaceuticals and other fields.
“The government support for businessmen looking to cooperate with Hungarian companies is being guaranteed,” Mustafayev said. “There is also the necessary legal framework.”
Szijjarto told the press that Hungary considers Azerbaijan as a guarantor of Europe’s energy security.
He said the Hungarian side was interested in implementing the Nabucco gas pipeline project and Azerbaijani gas supplies to central Europe via this route.
The Nabucco project is a priority route for delivering Caspian and in particular, Azerbaijani gas to south-east and central Europe and one of the main and important elements in ensuring European energy security.
Szijjarto also noted that Hungary hopes to operate direct flights to Azerbaijan.
According to Szijjarto, the issue of running a direct flight from Baku to Budapest is on the agenda and being discussed with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Economic Development.
“It would be a great advantage and a step [forward] in the development of economic relations between the two countries,” Szijjarto said.