Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary’s energy security not ensured without Turkic states

Hungary's energy security cannot be ensured without the Turkic states "in the present or the future", Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Thursday, adding, however, that "our relations are not just energy friendships".

Europe is facing an energy crisis, and this year is set to be even more difficult than the last because of the loss of around 60 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas, the increased demand due to the reboot of the Chinese economy and limited European LNG capacities, Szijjarto told a meeting of the energy ministers of the Organisation of Turkic States (OTS), according to a ministry statement.

Hungary treats energy security as a physical issue, rather than an ideological one, Szijjarto said. It has never and will never discriminate against any energy source or delivery route on a political basis, he added.

Diversification to Hungary means procuring energy from as many resources and via as many routes as possible, not swapping one dependence for another, Szijjarto said.

He said it was not an exaggeration to say that Hungary’s energy security could not be guaranteed, either now or in the future, without the Turkic states.

Szijjarto highlighted the role of Turkiye in Hungary’s long-term energy supply, noting that the country last year received 4.8 cubic metres of gas via the TurkStream pipeline.

As regards new energy sources, the minister said the most realistic option was importing from Azerbaijan, noting that a political agreement had been reached on deliveries of around 100 cubic metres of Azeri gas to Hungary this year. Afterward, annual deliveries could reach 2 billion cubic metres in the framework of a long-term contract, he added.

Szijjarto said Hungary’s friendship with the Turkic states was not based on energy supply. “We were already on good terms back when those who are now eager to get their picture taken with [Azeri] President Aliyev arrogantly and condescendingly waved off our relationship with Azerbaijan,” he said.

Under a political agreement, the Azeri gas will flow via Turkiye, and the companies involved are now in talks on the details, he said.

Szijjarto also underscored the need for infrastructure developments in southeast Europe, noting that Hungary was cooperating in the matter with Bulgaria and Romania and would sign the relevant agreement at the end of April.

Concerning nuclear energy, he said Europe was on the verge of a “major breakthrough” on the use of nuclear power, given that seven European Union member states were planning to build nuclear power plants.

Szijjarto said there was a significant opportunity for cooperation on nuclear energy within the OTS, arguing that Turkiye was building a plant with the same technology and contractor as Hungary, while Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were among the world’s leading uranium producers. Hungary has signed agreements on nuclear training with every OTS member state, he said.

This, the minister added, would give them the competitive advantage of being immune to the “irrational volatility” of the international energy markets.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said Hungary had benefitted greatly from becoming an observer in the OTS, adding that it made it easier to guarantee the country’s energy security.

Answering a question, Szijjarto said Hungary’s energy cooperation with Russia was unaffected by the country’s inclusion on the Russian government’s list of “unfriendly countries” along with every other EU member state.

The long-term gas delivery agreement with Russia is reliable, and Gazprom is a reliable partner, he added.

As regards the war in Ukraine, he said Hungary urged an immediate ceasefire and peace talks, adding that talks often led to a situation in which the status quo at the end of the war differed from the outcome of the peace agreement.

He also underlined Hungary’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Concerning Hungary’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession, Szijjarto said this had to be done by parliament, adding that the government’s position in the matter was clear.

“I don’t think it would be helpful for anyone to apply any kind of pressure,” Szijjarto said. “Instead I recommend respect as the form of behaviour to be displayed by everyone.”

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