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Szijjarto: Energy supplies must not be influenced by ideology

Security of supply and price are the sole factors determining the government's energy policy, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said at the 5th Budapest LNG Summit on Tuesday. "We don't take political or ideological aspects into consideration," he said.

The crises of recent years could well have spurred “a return to common sense, but we have seen just the opposite”, he said, adding that treating energy as a political issue jeopardised the security of supplies, which should be based on “physical realities rather than political ideology”.

“We are not ready to give up any partnership that has proven reliable in terms of energy supplies. Neither will we terminate any contracts that we benefit from,” Szijjarto said.

The minister highlighted the importance of diversification, explaining that the government’s interpretation of the term centred on “securing new resources rather than excluding existing ones”.

Given Hungary’s geographical location, the country depends heavily on the region’s infrastructure, so developing the regional network “is crucial, even if European politicians often disregard the fact that gas cannot be transported in a bag or backpack,” he said. “The infrastructure determines the energy mix and impacts on relevant decisions. Boosting capacities is of vital importance… For us there is no such thing as a redundant gas pipeline,” he added.

He called construction of the TurkStream pipeline “a success story”, and said Hungary would contend with serious difficulties without it. He highlighted Hungary was the first country apart from Turkiye’s neighbours to import Turkish natural gas. He also mentioned as achievements the Slovak-Hungarian interconnector, enhanced pipeline capacity between Hungary and Romania, a supply deal with Shell on LNG and cooperation with Azerbaijan in the area of gas supplies.

Szijjarto said it was regrettable that “Western partners” had “abandoned” Romania’s LNG project, adding that nevertheless Romania would hopefully start production in the future and Hungary was be among potential purchasers of its LNG.

The minister accused the European Union of reducing aid for energy infrastructure developments in south-east Europe, insisting that those projects were key for diversification. He slammed the European Commission, saying its position was that “developing the network was unnecessary because natural gas had no future and it would not be in the energy mix in 15 years’ time.”

“Even if it that were true … what about supplies for the next 15 years? Hungary continues to reject aggressively and artificially removing natural gas from the energy mix… We consider this economic suicide and don’t want to further compromise the competitiveness of the EU,” Szijjarto said.

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