Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Gas must be paid for ‘in a manner that ensures its delivery’

Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Zagreb on Thursday that "for us, it's no question that we have to pay the price of Russian gas in a manner that ensures its delivery".

“Energy supplies are a matter of national security and it is the government’s duty to guarantee security for the citizens,” he said at a joint press conference after meeting Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlic-Radman.

Hungary has done its homework, Szijjarto said, adding however that unless alternative natural gas resources and alternative delivery routes were found, Europe would continue to remain largely dependent on Russian gas supplies.

Energy supply is not a philosophical issue but a physical one, Szijjarto said, adding that independence from Russian energy was impossible without significant investments in infrastructure.

Szijjarto cited the example of the expansion of Croatia’s LNG terminal on the island of Krk. He added, at the same time, that the terminal would only be of help to Hungary if Croatia’s gas transit system was upgraded.

Hungary is currently capable of importing up to an annual 7 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Croatia, he said, adding that “no one can expect us to allow the Hungarian people to be made to pay the price of war.”

As regards Hungarian-Croatian cooperation, Szijjarto said 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Hungary and Croatia “have done a lot” to strengthen their friendship and alliance over these last three decades, he said.

Bilateral trade turnover reached 3.8 billion euros last year, up 52 percent from 2020, Szijjarto said, adding that trade turnover was up 65 percent at the beginning of the year.

The minister also highlighted the importance of opening new border crossing points between the two countries, noting the construction of a bridge over the Mura River, between the Hungarian settlement of Murakeresztur and Kotoriba, in Croatia, as well as new border crossings in Sarok and Zakany. Also, by 2024, Hungary’s M6 motorway will be linked to Croatia, he added.

Szijjarto said Hungary and Croatia also shared a commitment to the stability of the Western Balkans.

Hungary and Croatia both know that the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical to the stability of the region, he said. This stability requires that the will of all three of the country’s ethnic groups be respected, he added.

Hungary therefore does not support the western European “political witch hunt” against Bosnia’s Serb leader Milorad Dodik or the sanctions imposed on him, Szijjarto said. Hungary does, however, support Croatia’s approach which says that Bosnia’s Croat leader should be elected by the Croat community, he added.

“My friend Gordan regularly speaks out on this issue in Brussels and I never miss the opportunity to support him in his efforts,” Szijjarto said.

Grlic-Radman again congratulated Szijjarto on his ruling Fidesz party’s recent re-election. Concerning the war in Ukraine, he said Croatia was accepting refugees and sending armed forces to join the NATO combat groups stationed in Hungary. Grlic-Radman said Croatia and Hungary were in agreement on the importance of preventing the war from spreading beyond Ukraine.

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