Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Preliminary agreement concluded with Russia on long-term gas delivery

Szijjarto in talks on Russia-Hungary cooperation in vaccine production

Hungary and Russia have started talks on strategic cooperation on vaccine production, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Denis Manturov, the Russian minister for industry and trade, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia on Thursday.

Szijjarto said the talks between the Hungarian national vaccine centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund has resulted in a preliminary agreement whereby Russia allows production in Hungary of its Sputnik V vaccine pending the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement. Technical issues are yet to be discussed, he added.

“The point is that Hungary and Russia are both open to Hungary manufacturing vaccines under a Russian licence,” Szijjarto said.

He noted Hungary will begin operating its own vaccine plant in late 2022, adding that Thursday’s deal was preliminary. The Russian jab is especially popular in the East, the minister said, adding that new production capacities would be needed to meet growing demand.

“If Hungary can profit from this, then I think it’s worth having a go at it,” Szijjarto said.

He said the planned cooperation in vaccine production would be a continuation of the recent partnership between Hungary and Russia. Szijjarto praised Manturov for his role in allowing Hungary to be the first European country to purchase Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, noting that all of the doses had been delivered on time.

He said the partnership had enabled one million Hungarians who received Sputnik jabs to develop immunity to the virus and Hungary to be the first European country to reopen its economy.

As regards Russia’s announcement that it will resume regular flights to Hungary from July 10, Szijjarto said that for the time being entry to Russia was restricted to business travelers and those visiting relatives. He expressed hope that Russia and Hungary could soon lift entry restrictions for each other’s citizens and recognise each other’s immunity certificates, talks on which are ongoing.

Preliminary agreement concluded with Russia on long-term gas delivery

Hungary and Russia have agreed to conclude a long-term agreement on the delivery of natural gas from Russia to Hungary, Szijjarto said on Thursday, after talks with Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller.

“We intend to enter into a 15-year contract, with flexible pricing,” Szijjarto said on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The agreement would ensure long-term gas supply security, Szijjarto said, noting that the current deal expires at the end of September. Prices, however, are yet to be negotiated, he said.

“What I can say is that the agreements I have brokered before with the head of Gazprom have all been fulfilled completely,” Szijjarto said. “So there’s no need for us to have any doubts this time, either.”

The minister said construction on a gas pipeline linking the Hungary-Serbia border to Hungary’s gas pipeline network would be completed by Oct. 1, enabling the delivery of large quantities of gas to Hungary. Serbia has completed its part of the project, he said, adding that it was now up to energy companies to discuss the practical aspects.

Szijjarto said he had also discussed the potential acceleration of the upgrade of Hungary’s nuclear power plant in Paks with Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev. He said everything was set for the next phase of construction on the new blocks to begin by the end of September, noting that this was also the deadline for Hungary’s National Atomic Energy Authority (OAH) to issue the implementation permit for the project.

Szijjarto said the first concrete elements of the new blocks could be put in place at some point next year. Given that Rosatom has just finished a project in Belarus, it can focus all its capacities in the region on Hungary, he added.

The transformer station that will supply power for the construction works at the power plant is already operational, and soon the general contractor’s office building will also open, he said.

“Meanwhile, we’re in talks with the countries in the region on exporting electricity produced by the new blocks,” Szijjarto said. “Hungary’s opportunity to increase its electricity exports will come as a major boost, in addition to meeting its climate-related targets by 2030 and 2050, respectively.”

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