After meeting the Austrian, Czech, Slovak and Slovenian foreign ministers in Budapest on Wednesday, Péter Szijjártó said Hungary’s natural gas storage facilities are 44 percent full and being filled up further.
The current reserves equal a quarter of the annual consumption, he said, adding that Europe’s reserves currently averaged 16.7 percent. Hungary has also held trade talks on buying gas in addition to the amounts contracted in long-term agreements, and expects to have the opportunity to buy another 700 million cubic meters of gas before the start of the heating season, he said. Meanwhile, the government is ramping up the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant, he said, with the aim of “setting the first blocks of concrete in the ground by next year”. The government is also working on finding alternative transport routes for fuel rods which normally transit Ukraine, he said. Minister Szijjártó warned that Europe, especially Ukraine’s neighbours, faced “extremely grave challenges” to their “physical security” due to the war, as well as “wartime inflation” and “total uncertainty” with regard to energy supply. Minister Szijjártó said it was crucial to strengthen economic ties among Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Czechia.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said the war in Ukraine had further exacerbated a situation already made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin was using “famine as a tool” in his war, and so it is important to aid the Sahel region, he said, referring to stranded Ukrainian grain deliveries to the region. Meanwhile, the Western Balkans, Schallenberg said, remained a geostrategically important region, adding that it was “imperative” that Bosnia and Herzegovina obtain EU candidate status as soon as possible.
Photo credit: MTI