FM: Kazakhstan is set to be an important source for Hungary’s energy security

The foreign minister said the global political, economic and security crises of recent years had made it harder to guarantee Europe’s energy supply.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Kazakhstan is set to be an important source for Hungary’s energy security as shown by the record 630,000 tons of oil being delivered from the Central Asian country this year.

Speaking in Astana on Thursday, following a Hungarian-Kazakh summit, Minister Szijjártó highlighted energy cooperation as a main topic on the meeting’s agenda, saying the global political, economic and security crises of recent years had made it harder to guarantee Europe’s energy supply. “We, Hungarians are doing well on this front, because we view energy security not as a political issue, but as one of physical reality, which means we’ll be able to guarantee the security of Hungary’s energy supply as we have so far,” Minister Szijjártó said, according to a ministry statement. Diversification will remain crucial in the future as well, and Hungary’s government assigns strategic importance to securing as many energy sources as possible for the country, he said. “In our case, this doesn’t mean that we want to replace an existing source with another, but that we want to be able to procure energy from as many sources as possible,” he added. Minister Szijjártó said Kazakhstan was set to be a key source for diversification in the coming period, as the Central Asian country was set to play a bigger role when it came to oil and natural gas deliveries to Hungary. “This year we’re already buying a record volume of oil from Kazakhstan, which will be delivered to Hungary through pipelines and by sea,” the minister said. Hungary is set to receive some 630,000 tonnes of oil from Kazakhstan this year owing to the government’s successful efforts in Brussels to exempt oil extraction in the Caspian Sea region from sanctions, he said.

On another note, the foreign minister said that despite all the pressure, Hungary and Kazakhstan continue preserving their own culture and national characteristics which makes both countries strong and enables their survival during crises. The foreign ministry cited Minister Szijjártó as stating that a street had been named after Hungarian 19th-century reform poet Sándor Petőfi in the Kazakh capital which he said was another expression of respect by the Kazakhs towards Hungary and Hungarian culture. “These days international politics are mostly characterised by condemning, lecturing and criticising one another,” he said. “We would like international politics to return to the grounds of mutual respect,” Szijjártó said. “But mutual respect can be demonstrated only by countries that are self-assured, and have rich and respectful cultures,” he added. “We are proud to have both and we insist on all of this despite the pressure put on us to get rid of our culture, heritage and national characteristics,” he said. “We will always insist on our culture, and we will protect it because this culture and national heritage is what makes us strong,” the minister said. He also said that there were only 13-14 million Hungarian speakers in the world and Hungarian is a difficult language so it requires great effort from any foreigner who wants to read Hungarian literature in the original. He welcomed the recent publication of a collection of 196 poems by Petőfi translated into Kazakh. Meanwhile, Szijjártó welcomed that Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and its Chinese partners will begin the extraction of the Karpovsky gas field in Kazakhstan next month. The rise in production will see MOL’s extraction rate reach about 100 million cubic metres a year, he said, adding that a decision could be made about its sale once it was processed. The fact that there is Hungarian ownership in this gas field in Kazakhstan will bolster Hungary’s energy security in the coming years, Szijjártó said. Hungary and Kazakhstan’s energy cooperation underlines the importance of their strategic cooperation, he said, arguing that few areas today were more strategic than contributions to each other’s energy security.