The Hungarian government is not willing to give up the security of energy supply for any political reasons, and although the country is diversifying its energy sources with great effort, it has no intention of withdrawing Russian sources either, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at a panel discussion with Milorad Dodik at the Trebinje Energy Forum. He also talked about cooperation and development in the Western Balkans and its possible instruments.
In his speech, the Foreign Minister underlined that Hungary is in a special situation, as it has no coastline and imports most of its energy. “We see energy as part of physical reality. And we would like the world to have at least two feet on the ground in terms of energy use, because you cannot heat with communication panels or political statements,” he said.
Péter Szijjártó stressed that this requires a source of natural gas and a pipeline, and that if one of the two is missing, we are only chasing illusions.
We are standing on the ground of reality, and the reality in the case of Hungary is that secure gas supplies are physically impossible today without sources from Russia. Not politically, but physically impossible,”
he stressed, adding that the Hungarian government had made great efforts to achieve long-term diversification, but that it would take time to succeed. “A natural gas pipeline cannot be built overnight. Maybe in five or eight years Hungary will be able to supply natural gas without Russian sources, but there are still four or five winters to go before then.”
He also explained that
in Hungary’s experience, Gazprom is a reliable contractual partner, and cooperation is not subject to sanctions, so there is no reason to terminate the export of Russian energy.
The foreign minister then touched upon sanctions against Russia, recalling that their proponents have argued that Moscow will not be able to continue its war in Ukraine if it is brought to its knees economically. “After the adoption of ten packages of sanctions, the war is more brutal than ever before and Russia does not look like it has been brought to its knees,” he stressed, adding that the restrictions have caused skyrocketing inflation and runaway energy prices and have hurt Europe more.
Szijjártó also raised the issue of possible sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, saying that “as long as we are in government in Hungary, President Dodik will certainly not be on any sanctions list.” He added that those who think that anything in the Western Balkans can be solved by sanctions have no idea about the Western Balkans.
The minister pointed out that peace and tranquility in the Western Balkans is crucial for Hungary, and that this can best be maintained by promoting economic development, which is an important part of a responsible Hungarian neighborhood policy.
In this context, a government program for the development of agriculture in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been launched, and Hungary is also interested in the energy industry in the country from an investment point of view. According to Szijjártó, discussions are underway on the need and possibilities for Hungarian involvement in the construction and modernization of hydro and thermal power plants.
Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó