FM: Energy crisis could be exacerbated by Ukraine-Russia war

Currently, European gas reserves are less than 30 percent full, and gas prices have grown six-fold over the past 18 months.

The foreign minister said European energy security has faced serious challenges over the recent period, which may even be exacerbated by the Ukraine-Russia war.

Speaking at a Budapest conference on utility prices, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that while the government was doing everything in its power to guarantee Hungary’s security, the situation “is spawning challenges beyond the immediate horrors of war”. Energy supply is one of those challenges. Lack of energy resources would paralyse the economy and cut off heating in households, he said. “This is not merely a Hungarian issue but a very serious challenge in the whole of Europe.” Europe covers over 80 percent of its gas consumption from imports, half of which arrives from Russia, Minister Szijjártó said. Currently, European gas reserves are less than 30 percent full, and gas prices have grown six-fold over the past 18 months, he said. The minister said the sanctions imposed on Russia have so far not impacted gas deliveries. He added that Hungary had supported the EU’s sanctions against Russia.

Minister Szijjártó rejected the claims by Donald Tusk, the head of the European People’s Party, who said that Hungary had vetoed the EU’s proposal to exclude Russia from the international payment system SWIFT. Minister Szijjártó called Tusk a “notorious liar”. “We have condemned Russia’s military actions, expressed solidarity with Ukraine, and stand by its territorial integrity and sovereignty. We see European unity as of paramount importance,” he said.

The EU has failed to invest in infrastructure development and in opening new resources while it still had the opportunity “to draft a much safer energy supply map,” the minister said. Infrastructure development in eastern and southern Europe to reach new resources and increasing the ratio of sustainable energy resources in the supply mix are crucial to ensure energy security, and to preserve the utility price cuts introduced by the Hungarian government, Minister Szijjártó said. Hungary has already connected its gas transport network with six of its seven neighbours, and will soon complete the same regarding the high-voltage electricity grid. The government has also contributed to setting up the LNG terminal in Croatia, and conducts advanced talks with Azerbaijan, Israel and Egypt on diversifying its energy imports, he said. Solar energy investments are also being fast-tracked, which will help the country attain its climate goals, Minister Szijjártó said.

Photo credit: MTI