Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister's Office, said it is in the interest of Hungary and Europe as a whole to maintain dialogue with Russia, just as it was in their interest to strengthen economic ties “as far as possible within the current framework”. Gulyás added that Europe meanwhile must do everything in its power to prevent any conflict, violence and war in Ukraine and the region. Hungary is “aware of its position and weight”, he said, adding that it was therefore not likely to be up to Hungary “whether the United States and Europe want to give Russia the guarantees it is asking for”. He added, however, that the issues of energy security and relations with Russia were as inseparable for Hungary as they were for Europe.
Gulyás said Hungary’s gas supply from Russia is secure until 2036, noting that at their meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that Russia would consider Hungary’s request to increase the volume of gas deliveries to the country by one billion cubic metres a year. Hungary’s annual natural gas consumption is 9-10 billion cubic metres, Gulyás said. Under the long-term gas purchase agreement signed with Gazprom last September, Hungary has pledged to buy 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas each year from the energy giant, he noted. Gazprom will deliver one billion cubic metres via Austria and 3.5 billion via the Serbian-Hungarian interconnector, he said.
On another topic, Gulyás said it was in Hungary’s interest that Ukraine’s territorial integrity was respected by everyone, including Russia. The issue at hand is Ukraine’s future NATO membership, on which western Europe must establish its own position, he said.
In response to a question, Gulyás called Russia a reliable gas supplier. Hungary’s NATO membership is not up for debate, he said. Hungary’s interests lie in a united NATO and in averting war in Ukraine, he said. Gulyás said Russia felt that it had been deceived in connection with the enlargement of NATO, but recognised the alliance’s expansion over the past decade and a half. What Russia does not want is for the enlargement to continue, he added.
Photo credit: MTI