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Gulyas: ‘Government does not support EU proposals threatening energy supply safety’

The Hungarian government supports any proposals by the European Union that would result in decreasing energy prices but does not support proposals that will work against the security of supplies, the prime minister's chief of staff told public Kossuth radio on Sunday morning.

Assessing the results of the recent EU summit, Gergely Gulyas said it would have been disadvantegous for Hungary if Brussels had introduced sanctions and an embargo on natural gas imports or had adopted a gas price scheme that would threaten long-term gas purchase contracts. “For Hungary, that would mean that the Russians would terminate the gas contract concluded earlier and that would put our gas supplies at risk.”

He said that proposals put forward by the European Commission were aimed at extending sanctions on natural gas which would for Hungary “most obviously and certainly result in a shortage of supplies for Hungarian families and businesses”, said Gulyas. “We have managed to prevent this, the EU will not introduce regulations in connection with long-term contracts on gas,” said Gulyas, adding that in Hungary’s view “the EU summit’s decisions rest on a rational basis” and “we could defend what was important and have a share from what is advantageous”.

Europe, he said, cannot supply itself with gas and therefore is not in a position to dictate prices. In terms of electricity, the continent is self-sufficient, but for the time being the gas market also determines the prices in the electricity market, said Gulyas, proposing the use of cheaper renewable energy. “This will not resolve all of our problems but could ease them and it could somewhat bring down the price of electricity,” Gulyas said.

Concerning the idea of the common European Union gas purchases, Gulyas said the Hungarian government insists that there should be no obligation to participate in any purchase. “As long as taking part in such a procedure is voluntary, and we can freely decide whether to join or not every time, this is also in accordance with our interests,” the minister said.

On the economic measures announced on Saturday, Gulyas said the government’s aim with freezing interest rates on the loans of SMEs, extending the Szechenyi Business Card business credit programme and launching a “factory-saving” scheme is to minimise the losses of the Hungarian economy in the current situation.

The aim is to ensure that businesses can keep repaying their loans and avoid bankruptcy, and with the “factory-saving” scheme to assist manufacturing companies to sign gas purchase contracts, in the absence of which they could be compelled to lay off masses of workers, and the most important thing is to avoid this in the current situation, he added.

Answering a question on the Russian-American talks referred to in press reports, Gulyas said the Hungarian government welcomes the news of the talks, adding that it is very important that there should be a dialogue that could lead to peace negotiations and eventually to peace.

“It is of key importance that there should be a dialogue and this dialogue should take the form of peace negotiations as soon as possible,” he said.

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