Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told public radio that the Hungarian government supports any European Union proposal that would result in lower energy prices but does not support proposals that would undermine the security of supplies.
Assessing the recent EU summit, Gulyás said it would have been disadvantageous for Hungary if Brussels had introduced sanctions and an embargo on natural gas imports, or had adopted a gas price scheme that would threaten long-term gas purchase contracts. “For Hungary, that would mean that the Russians would terminate the gas contract concluded earlier and that would put our gas supplies at risk.” He said that proposals put forward by the European Commission were aimed at extending sanctions on natural gas which would “most obviously and certainly result in a shortage of supplies for Hungarian families and businesses”, said Gulyás. “We have managed to prevent this: the EU will not introduce regulations in connection with long-term contracts on gas,” said Gulyás. Concerning the idea of the common European Union gas purchases, Gulyás said the Hungarian government insists that there should be no obligation to participate in any purchase. “As long as taking part in such a procedure is voluntary, and we can freely decide whether to join or not every time, this is also in accordance with our interests,” the minister said.
Regarding electricity, Gulyás said the continent was self-sufficient, but for the time being, the gas market also determines the prices in the electricity market, and cheaper renewable energy would “not resolve all of our problems but could ease them and it could somewhat bring down the price of electricity.”
Regarding new economic measures, Gulyás said the government aimed to minimise the Hungarian economy’s losses by freezing interest rates on the loans of small and medium-sized firms, extending a business credit scheme and launching a “factory-saving” scheme. The aim is to ensure that businesses can keep repaying their loans and avoid bankruptcy, while the “factory-saving” scheme aims to help manufacturers sign gas purchase contracts. Without such measures, mass layoffs would ensue. Answering a question concerning recent US-Russia talks, Gulyás said the government welcomed the development, adding that dialogue that could lead to peace negotiations and an eventual peace was highly important.