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Monday, 30 December 2013 13:02

Diversification of supply of energy resources is very important for Hungary – Zohlt Chutora, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Azerbaijan Featured

Diversification of supply of energy resources is very important for Hungary – Zohlt Chutora, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Azerbaijan

Caspian Energy Investor (CEI): Your Excellency, could you please tell about overall level of development of relations of Hungary and Azerbaijan in economic sphere for now? Which spheres are promising for further development of relations between our countries?

 

Zholt Chutora, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan and Hungary established very good relations. Besides, the level of our relations increased noticeably over the past two years. These are friendly countries and peoples. Our countries are very alike. As you know, the size of the territory of Hungary is almost similar to that of Azerbaijan. Hungary has 94,000square km. Azerbaijan has 86,000 square km. A little less than 10 mln people live in Hungary. More than 9 mln people live in Azerbaijan. Our history is similar as well. Besides, there are many similar words in our languages. “Balta” (axe) means balta, “alma” (an apple) means alma in Hungary. Such expressions as “aghsakkal” are still used in villages and even in the cities. It also characterizes our relations. About 23 Azerbaijani delegations have visited Hungary over the last year. 

Our President, Prime Minister, State Secretary for Foreign Economic and Political Affairs and Co-Chairman of the Intergovernmental Commission ( three visits) visited Azerbaijan within a year. Speaker of Azerbaijan parliament paid a visit to Azerbaijan. Several mutual visits were made on the level of heads of ministries. Noteworthy is the successful conduction of the third session of the intergovernmental commission. Our countries established good relations in the field of culture and sports as well. Hungarian coaches already work in Baku. Different Hungarian cultural groups visited Azerbaijan: dancers, musicians, etc. I hope that the obtained level of cultural relations will also reflect on the economic sphere in future.  

The rate of goods turnover between our countries is not high. But I hope that this indicator will be much higher as early as in coming year. The goods turnover totaled about $80 mln in 2010. Last year it totaled a little less than $60 mln because of the global crisis. I hope that it will grow at least twice as much in coming year. A number of joint companies have already been established in our countries. The work in this direction is continued.

The rate of goods turnover between our countries is not high. But I hope that this indicator will be much higher as early as in coming year. The goods turnover totaled about $80 mln in 2010. Last year it totaled a little less than $60 mln because of the global crisis. I hope that it will grow at least twice as much in coming year. A number of joint companies have already been established in our countries. The work in this direction is continued.

 

 

CEI: What level has the energy cooperation between Hungary and Caspian regions reached? In your opinion, what are the chances of implementation of Nabucco project after one of its main member companies abandoned this project?

Zholt Chutora: The cooperation between our countries has not reached a high level yet. But I do hope that we will manage to move forward in these issues. Energy is an important issue which does not mainly depend on an Ambassador. Hungary is certainly interested in diversification of energy resource supplies. We purchase 80% of energy resources from Russia. Negotiations about the route that will be used for delivery of Azeri gas produced from Shah Deniz to Europe after TANAP are still continuing. It may be TAP project for south part of Europe – through Greece to Albania and Italy or Nabucco West. I can not tell which project has more chances since it is more a commercial issue rather political. For Hungary it does not matter from where gas comes. The most important thing for us is to diversify supply of energy resources. Azerbaijani side is going to make a decision in coming year. I hope Nabucco West to win in this selection because Hungary will win in this case too.  

 

 

CEI: What stage has the implementation of AGRI (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector) project reached and which hopes does Hungary rest on this project? When shall be the feasibility study of the project be developed?

Zholt Chutora: It is another method of energy transportation. The matter concerns supply of liquefied gas. This issue is also important for us. As far as I know the negotiations on this project have been stopped for now. But this matter depends also on Azerbaijan. Georgia, Romania and Hungary are interested in implementation of this project. For Azerbaijan it also means diversification of supplies.

 

CEI: What could you tell about the development of relations between our countries in the field of tourism? Which measures may be undertaken for increasing the flow of tourists from Hungary to Azerbaijan and vice versa?

Zholt Chutora: Tourism is also an important issue of our cooperation. 40 mln tourists from different countries visited Hungary in the year before last year. The quantity of our population totals 10 mln. The number of tourists who visited Hungary last year was a little lower. I hope that this indicator will be good this year as well. We work together with my counterpart from Azerbaijan Ambassador Vilayat Guliyev for increasing the number of tourists from Hungary to Azerbaijan.

Last year was announced a year of tourism in Azerbaijan. One of the female employees of the embassy made up the first guidebook on Azerbaijan. The work in this sphere is continued though the flow of tourists is not that high. Hungary is a tourist country. Our medical tourism is developed very well.

I would like to say a few words about positive activities in the field of education. Thus, the number of Azerbaijani students studying in Hungary grew by 700% within a year. Indeed, this figure is not that high. 4 Azerbaijani students studied in Hungary last year. Now this figure reaches 30. I hope that more Hungarian universities will manage to fall into the state list of Azerbaijan. The negotiations on this matter are already underway and we hope for results to be announced soon.

We opened a trade house a week and a half ago. It will promote not only the development of trade and business. I hope this house will be a center of information for all.

A few years later I returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where I headed the department, had been the deputy director of the department and later a director. Then I was appointed an Ambassador to Azerbaijan. It is a great honor. I would like to note that in Moscow I worked an expert on Caucasus for 5 years. At that period (13 years ago) I visited Azerbaijan 5 times and had been to such cities of Ganja, Lankaran, Baku and Sumgayit. No there is no time left for visiting cities though I paid a business visit to Sheki. 

 

CEI: Could you tell about your career. What encouraged you to choose a diplomatic career?

Zholt Chutora: I am 49 years old. My wife lives with me in Baku. My son studied and left an Azeri school. My eldest son studies in Athens. The youngest son studies in Scotland. I hope that they will fly here in a few days and we will spend the holidays together. Me first profession was a teacher of Russian language. The second profession was military and I worked a navigator in the Hungarian army and finished an aviation-technical school.

I also graduated from the University of Defense at diplomatic courses. I was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999. It was then when I began my diplomatic career. I worked in the Hungarian embassy in Moscow for 5 years. Then I returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked for the protocol department. From there we flew to work in China. I used to a general of the consulate in Shanghai. From Shanghai I was forwarded to the embassy of Hungary in Kazakhstan (Almaty). I started working for the consulate after the embassy moved to Astana. A few years later I returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where I headed the department, had been the deputy director of the department and later a director. Then I was appointed an Ambassador to Azerbaijan. It is a great honor. I would like to note that in Moscow I worked an expert on Caucasus for 5 years. At that period (13 years ago) I visited Azerbaijan 5 times and had been to such cities of Ganja, Lankaran, Baku and Sumgayit. No there is no time left for visiting cities though I paid a business visit to Sheki.

 

CEI: What played an important role in your appointment an ambassador to Azerbaijan?

Zholt Chutora: I guess working as an expert on Caucasus in Moscow and my love to Azerbaijan played an important role in my appointment. When I worked as a diplomat in Moscow from 1995 until 2004, I spoke and wrote about the necessity for opening a representative office and then an embassy in Baku.  At first a good friend of mine was appointed a consul.  He still holds this position here.

 

CEI: Which countries did you visit over the past year?

Zholt Chutora: I visited only Hungary over the past year. We have a family tradition to spend a vacation in Hungary when we work abroad. Our children always lived and studied beyond Hungary. Therefore they should recognize their home-country as well because we find it very important. I am going to get my vacation in coming week. We are not going anywhere and stay in Azerbaijan. Our children will arrive in Azerbaijan. It will let them get familiarized with Azerbaijan in different manner.

 

CEI: Which regions of Azerbaijan did you manage to visit? Which of them did you like it most?

Zholt Chutora: As early as 12-13 years ago I visited all regions of Azerbaijan except for Nakhchivan. Now after Sheki I plan to visit Gabala and once again Ganja and Lankaran. My wife finds it very interesting as well. 

 

CEI: Do you have a favorite hobby which you could spare most of your free time?

Zholt Chutora: I like sports and not only as a viewer. You would think so looking at my body shape. I know that I have to get rid of weight and I have already started working on it. Very many delegations have recently arrived in Baku. So it means that the Ambassador can not get enough sleep, eats a lot that adds more weight. I will start running and swimming during the vacation as there are very good opportunities for that here.

 

CEI: What kind of literature do you prefer reading?

Zholt Chutora: Of course I like reading very much once I get some free time. I prefer a Hungarian literature. I read many English and Russian books too. But I do not find it my hobby.  The thing is that I may simply get away from work if I read in my native language. We already have a huge library. We would like to open a small library here in the Hungarian language so that more Azerbaijanis could study in Hungarian language. The negotiations on this matter are already underway. Hungary has a certain institution when we send a teacher to foreign countries where he teaches in a certain university. It is a very good business.

 

I have been working oversees for already 14 years and it is not that easy. All our relatives and family members have already left us. Grandparents of my wife have already passed away. We can not participate because of our work.

 

CEI: Could you please tell a little about your family? Would you like your children to follow your steps?

Zholt Chutora: You know, we though a lot about it. Children also think a lot about it. I think they have already made their choice. The youngest son is 18. The eldest is 21 and studies at the business university. The youngest one would like to be a psychologist or a politician. He is doing good in policy. But it does not mean that he will become a politician. He probably may be a political analyst. We would not like them to be diplomats. If a person has not idea about working oversees he may dream about it. I have been working oversees for already 14 years and it is not that easy. All our relatives and family members have already left us. Grandparents of my wife have already passed away. We can not participate because of our work. 

 

CEI: What are you mostly afraid of?

Zholt Chutora: I don’t know as I never thought about it. I am afraid of nothing no matter how brave it sounds.

 

CEI: could tell us about any funny event that happened to you in your life?

Zholt Chutora: I may say that working oversees is interesting. Once I went to travel across Caucasus from Moscow and flew to Georgia. The country was hosting an event where participating were guests from other countries including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc. An earthquake occurred during supper. It was a strong earthquake but I do not remember the year. It was a very interesting accident. Unfortunately there were victims as well. There was no embassy of Hungary to Georgia at that period. We did not proceed with our supper, stopped negotiations and started thinking about the quantity of Hungarians that could be in the area of the earthquake and about the way we could help them.

Thank you for the interview.

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