Speaking in Bucharest on Wednesday, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary rejects all attempts at political pressure regarding energy supplies and calls on the European Union to return to common sense to handle the crisis.
Minister Szijjártó told a panel discussion at the 6th Romanian International Gas Conference that Hungary saw energy supply as a “physical reality” and rejected all approaches introducing a political or ideological context. The purchase of natural gas is determined “100%” on infrastructure rather than political declarations, he said. “The issue of energy supplies is over-politicised and over-ideologised in Europe,” which often harms member states’ sovereign right to set their own energy mix, he said. Banning any energy resources from Europe is “dangerous and irrational”, he added. Returning to a rational approach would be the bloc’s only chance to handle the crisis successfully, he said. The EU should “not try to override physics, should restore the right of sovereign member states’ to compose their own national energy mix and we should not ban any sources from the continent.” Meanwhile, he said the Hungarian government saw diversification as a process of involving new suppliers rather than replacing one reliable supplier with another.
The foreign minister added that Bulgaria should take seriously the principle of solidarity “cited so often in European debate”. He said Bulgaria’s decision to raise transit fees on Russian gas posed a risk to energy security in Hungary and Serbia, which receive a large portion of their supplies via the TurkStream pipeline. “No European member state should risk the energy security of another,” he told the 6th Romanian International Gas Conference. As a landlocked country without significant hydrocarbons, Hungary relies heavily on resource and transit countries, he said. In recent years, it has linked its energy network with six of its seven neighbours, but a stable gas supply remains “unimaginable” without Russian sources, he said. “If we sever ourselves from Russian deliveries, we won’t be able to ensure full supplies.” Hungary’s domestic gas production comes to 1.5 billion cubic metres a year, and the country needs to supplement that by importing another 8.5 billion cubic metres, he said. Infrastructure developments in Hungary will not help if the neighbouring countries’ outgoing capacity remains limited, he added. Romania is “exemplary” in that regard, as its outgoing capacity matches the incoming one, the minister said. Concerning diversification, Szijjártó said “the biggest obstacle” was “Brussels and some member states”. Hungary’s primary new sources for large quantities of natural gas would be Azerbaijan, Qatar and Türkiye, but the south-eastern European infrastructure is inadequate for such deliveries, he said. The European Commission has rejected to fund a capacity upgrade in the relevant countries, saying natural gas would be phased out in the coming 15 years. “First of all, who knows what’s going to happen in 15 years? Second, even if gas is not going to be part of the national energy mix in 15 years, what’s going to happen in the coming 14?” Hungary is committed to continuing cooperation with other countries in the region in boosting the capacity of interconnectors and pipelines, he said. Politicising gas purchases poses a risk to energy security, Szijjártó warned.