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Szijjarto: Hungary not to support European gas price cap proposal

Hungary will in "no way" support a proposal to introduce a cap on the price of gas in Europe, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Brussels on Friday, adding that such a measure would be a "sanction in disguise" leading to further increasing energy prices and serious challenges in terms of the security of supplies.

The foreign ministry quoted Szijjarto as calling the proposal “absurd”, aimed “in fact to suppress Russian gas imports”. Szijjarto insisted that a member of the European Commission had admitted that the proposed measure would be a political move to cut Russian state revenues and would not result in reduced gas prices. He also said the proposal was “disguised as a price cap” because “as a commercial measure it could be adopted with a two-thirds majority, whereas sanctions need unanimous support”.

Hungary will face serious risks concerning the security of its energy supplies should Russian gas be banned from the European market, Szijjarto said. “The way of ensuring gas supplies for a country is not a political or ideological… but a physical issue,” he said.

“How long does Brussels want to continue its sanctions policy, which runs totally contrary to Europe’s interests?” Szijjarto asked. The sanctions have failed, while the war is escalating and energy prices are ever so high, while energy supplies are more and more problematic, he said.

Introducing a price cap would be a political decision “but we know no political reason to give up the security of Hungary’s energy supplies”, he said. No political reason could make the government “put Hungarians in a humiliating position in which they could not heat, cook or have hot water”, he said.

Szijjarto added, however, that no decision had been made in Friday’s debate. The European Commission will submit a written proposal on the subject in the next few weeks.

Concerning supplies at the moment, the minister said Hungary’s gas storage facilities contained 38 percent of the country’s annual consumption, as against 22 percent in the EU. He said Hungary’s was the third largest figure in the community, and noted that the EU’s directive was 35 percent.

Deliveries of gas purchased on top of contracted volumes are continuous, Szijjarto said, adding that 60 percent of all deliveries were received from the south.

Meanwhile, the minister said the Hungarian government could support four other proposals by the Commission, but added that those proposals could “not address the fundamental problem”, and some of them, in some form, had already been introduced in Hungary.

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