The infrastructure and geography of central Europe does not allow Hungary to buy large amounts of natural gas from other providers than Russia, the foreign affairs and trade minister told US TV channel Fox News on Tuesday.
In an interview on the business channel of Fox News, Péter Szijjártó was asked about his visit to Moscow last month. In response, he said that central Europe was currently relying exclusively on gas delivered through pipelines.
Had US energy giant ExxonMobil and Austrian OMV decided to mine the gas field in the Black Sea, Hungary would be in a very different situation, but that project was cancelled, he said.
“Unfortunately, if you want to buy big quantities of gas in central Europe, Russia is your only source,” Szijjártó said.
While northern and western European delivery routes are facing “technological and political challenges”, Hungary’s supplies are flowing uninterrupted via Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia, through a pipeline completed two years ago, he said.
To a question on “the government’s plan B” in view of “Russia … blackmailing Europe, saying it won’t send gas”, Szijjártó said “we would have a plan B, but it’s not a question of plans or dreams … it’s a question of physics and mathematics. You can have dreams, but when there are no alternative sources in the region, and there are no infrastructural possibilities, then you are definitely in a unilaterally defenceless position.”
The LNG terminals in the countries around Hungary do not have enough capacity to replace Russian gas, and the Romanian gas fields are not being exploited, he said.
Hungary, as a neighbour of Ukraine, has a vested interest in peace as the flow of refugees and economic and energy supply challenges are weighing heavily on the country, Szijjártó said. Meanwhile, Hungary is under “double pressure”, he said. While it has accepted 870,000 refugees from Ukraine, it has also stopped 130,000 illegal migrants at its southern border, more than those trying to cross last year altogether, he said.