Hungary’s energy supply security cannot be restricted by any kinds of sanctions, the minister of foreign affairs and trade told the Atomexpo forum in Sochi on Monday, adding that determining the country’s energy mix was a national competence.
Hungary’s energy mix being a strictly national issue is the number one fundamental principle of the country’s energy strategy, Péter Szijjártó told a panel discussion, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.
Another principle is enabling investments needed to ensure energy security, he said, adding this meant that in the absence of resources of its own, Hungary opted to expand nuclear capacities. Any measure that would hamper this would be an attack on Hungary’s national sovereignty, he said.
Szijjártó mentioned energy diversification as another important goal. He added, however, that there was a disagreement as to the definition of diversification, which Hungary believed meant having as many energy sources available as possible, rather than the exclusion of certain sources.
Hungary’s government considers carbon neutrality a practical issue rather than an ideological one, the minister said, insisting that certain European political movements had “expropriated” the matter which he said should primarily be about environmental protection.
Szijjártó said nuclear plants were the most reliable, cheapest and most eco-friendly means of producing energy, arguing that the upgrade of Hungary’s nuclear plant in Paks will prevent the emission of 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Meanwhile, the minister said that the government’s scheme to keep household utility bills low put Hungary in a “unique position” in Europe. Since 2013, the government has been allocating a significant amount of resources towards cutting utility prices, so the current price increases weigh heavily on the state budget, he said.
Europe’s energy market was experiencing a “golden age” up until the first half of 2021 thanks in large part to a combination of advanced Western technologies and cheap Russian energy sources, Szijjártó said. But the necessary infrastructure upgrades had not been carried out, he added.
Hungary, on the other hand, “did its homework” and signed long-term energy supply agreements, linked its energy grid with those of six of its seven neighbouring countries and approved the upgrade of its nuclear plant, Szijjártó said.
The unpredictability of the international energy market means countries must be as self-sufficient as possible, which in Hungary’s case can only be guaranteed by nuclear energy, he said. Hungary is also investing in solar energy, which, together with the expansion of nuclear capacities, will allow for 90 percent of the electricity consumed to be generated domestically by 2030, the minister said.