PM Orbán: Visit to Moscow is a peace mission

Hungary and Russia have jointly been tackling the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis, Viktor Orbán said in Moscow, while also calling his visit a peace mission and underlining that no EU leader wants conflict with Russia.

Following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Orbán said that “for us Central Europeans, the Cold War was a time of great bitterness and suffering; therefore, we are interested in reducing tensions between East and West and doing our utmost to prevent such a time from returning.”

Orbán welcomed the dialogue between Russia and Hungary’s Western allies and urged them to “use all means of diplomacy to reduce tensions.” Orbán further stated, “What we can offer is the Hungarian model,” explaining that Hungary is a NATO and EU member yet also maintains excellent relations with Russia.

The year 2021 was a success in terms of bilateral relations, he pointed out, noting that the countries jointly tackled two challenges: the coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis. Not only were 900,000 Hungarians vaccinated with Russian vaccines, but Hungary’s long-term gas supply contract with Russia has been extended and will remain in force until 2036, allowing Hungary to buy gas below market prices.

The prime minister also mentioned that further negotiations might be on the horizon to increase the annual volume of long-term Russian-Hungarian gas supplies by 1 billion cubic meters.

Regarding cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, he noted that the preparation for the construction of the Paks nuclear power plant has entered its final phase. As soon as the last permit is granted, “the project will move to the installation phase, and we Hungarians will take a decisive step towards becoming self-sufficient in our supply of electricity,” which is also key to achieving climate neutrality.

Hungary-Russia relations are balanced, positive and constructive, and Hungary is committed to continuing this in the future, PM Orbán said in conclusion.

For his part, President Putin said that Hungary is an important European partner for Russia, explaining that despite the pandemic, bilateral trade increased by 30 percent to USD 5.5 billion last year and mutual investments reached USD 1 billion.

Russia has been supplying Hungary with energy for many years without interruption, covering 55 percent of Hungarian oil and 80 percent of gas consumption, the Russian president said. He added that Hungary continues to prove that it is a reliable partner for the transit of Russian gas to Western Europe as well.

He also highlighted the two countries’ industrial cooperation, including the joint production of railway vehicles for Egypt; their cooperation in healthcare, including the joint recognition of immunity certificates; the supply and possible Hungarian production of the Sputnik vaccine; and ongoing negotiations on the single-dose Sputnik Light.

In conclusion, Putin praised their joint academic and cultural efforts as well and confirmed that Russia is open to further expanding bilateral ties with Hungary.

Photo credit: MTI