Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has said that Hungary must pay for Russian gas in a manner that ensures its delivery.
“Energy supplies are a matter of national security and it is the government’s duty to guarantee security for the citizens,” the foreign minister said at a joint press conference after meeting Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić-Radman in Zagreb. Unless alternative natural gas sources and delivery routes are found, Europe will continue to remain largely dependent on Russian gas supplies, he said. Energy supply is not a philosophical issue but a physical one, Szijjártó said, adding that independence from Russian energy was “impossible” without significant investments in infrastructure. Szijjártó cited the example of the expansion of Croatia’s LNG terminal on the island of Krk. He added, at the same time, that the terminal would only be of help to Hungary if Croatia’s gas transit system were upgraded. Hungary has the current capacity to import up to 7 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Croatia per year, he said, adding that “no one can expect us to allow the Hungarian people to be made to pay the price of war”.
As regards Hungarian-Croatian cooperation, Szijjártó said 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Hungary and Croatia “have done a lot” to strengthen their friendship and alliance over these last three decades, he said. Bilateral trade turnover reached 3.8 billion euros last year, up 52 percent from 2020, Szijjártó said, adding that trade turnover was up 65 percent at the start of the year. The minister also highlighted the importance of opening new border crossing points between the two countries, noting the construction of a bridge over the Mura River, between the Hungarian settlement of Murakeresztúr and Kotoriba, in Croatia, as well as new border crossings in Sarok and Zákány. Also, by 2024, Hungary’s M6 motorway will be linked to Croatia, he added. Minister Szijjártó said Hungary and Croatia also shared a commitment to the stability of the Western Balkans. Hungary and Croatia both know that the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical to the stability of the region, he said. This stability requires that the will of all three of the country’s ethnic groups be respected, he added. Hungary, therefore, does not support the western European “political witch hunt” against Bosnia’s Serb leader Milorad Dodik or the sanctions imposed on him, Minister Szijjártó said. Hungary does, however, support Croatia’s approach, which says that Bosnia’s Croat leader should be elected by the Croat community, he added. “My friend Gordan regularly speaks out on this issue in Brussels and I never miss the opportunity to support him in his efforts,” Minister Szijjártó said.
Grlić-Radman again congratulated Minister Szijjártó on his ruling Fidesz party’s recent re-election. Concerning the war in Ukraine, he said Croatia was accepting refugees and sending armed forces to join the NATO combat groups stationed in Hungary. Grlić-Radman said Croatia and Hungary were in agreement on the importance of preventing the war from spreading beyond Ukraine.
Photo credit: Facebook/Szijjártó Péter