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Oct 30, 2019

FM: Hungary-Russia ties are transparent and in line with the interests of the country

The Foreign Minister said that although Europe focused on its disputes with Russia, western European states quietly built close cooperation with the country.

The Foreign Minister has highlighted how Hungary-Russia economic ties are transparent and “in line with the interests of the Hungarian economy and domestic businesses”.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told a press conference that although Europe focused on its disputes with Russia, western European states quietly built close cooperation with the country. He pointed out that a majority of Russia’s top ten trading partners are European Union or NATO members.

The Minister noted that Dutch-Russian trade had increased by 23 percent since 2017, French-Russian trade by 40 percent, and the trade between Germany and Russia by 56 percent. Meanwhile, small countries have borne the brunt of the fallout of sanctions against Russia.

Minister Szijjártó highlighted that Hungary has lost USD 8 billion in export revenues due to those sanctions, adding that Hungary’s current cooperation with Russia, however, would help to keep bilateral trade on a growth path.

The Minister also revealed that Hungary and Russia have agreed to a settlement regarding the contamination of an oil pipeline. The contamination of the pipeline from Russia with chlorine in the spring was a one-off matter and the problem was resolved swiftly.

Minister Szijjártó also said broadening ties between Lukoil and MOL to include high value-added petrochemical cooperation were a focus. Talks are also under way on oil storage in Hungary, he added. Meanwhile, he noted that natural gas storage was at a record high in Hungary, reaching 6.5 billion cubic meters for the first time this year – 100 percent of domestic capacity.

In regards to the Paks nuclear power plant, the Minister noted that preparations for the application for the construction permit were under way after approval of the technical plans. The document running to hundreds of thousands of pages will be submitted to the National Atomic Energy Agency by June 30th, 2020. He said the operation of new blocks at Paks was a precondition for the country’s competitiveness and environmental protection.

Minister Szijjártó said Hungary-Russia energy cooperation was smooth and fulfilled the country’s energy needs. He added that both sides are committed to long-term cooperation. Supplies from the south are not yet on tap since the relevant countries have not made the necessary decisions, he added.

The Minister said Russia’s energy cooperation with Hungary was not as significant as with western energy companies — despite sanctions — but it was tightening every year. Energy security is a national security issue, he said, so the government makes the related policies based on the Hungarian national interest.

Finally, the Minister announced that Hungary will renew its partnership with Russia on the peaceful uses of space research, and accordingly it has made preparations for inter-state cooperation with Russia in space research projects. The ministry is supporting the Hungarian businesses and universities participating in two projects already under way with HUF 570 million (EUR 1.7m), he said.

Photo credit: Infostart