Budapest (MTI) – For the first time in many years, the international political environment is favourable for developing Hungarian-Russian relations, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday.
Over the past few years Hungary was frequently criticised by the West for maintaining pragmatic relations with Russia but now the West is also trying to develop such ties, Szijjártó said after talks with Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova in Budapest.
Commenting on energy issues, Szijjártó said Hungarian oil and gas company Mol has so far invested 1.3 billion dollars in Russia and some 6.5 percent of Mol’s oil comes from Russia. Under a contract signed two years ago, all issues concerning long-term gas purchases were finalised so the forthcoming talks can focus on the post-2021 period.
Szijjártó called Russia Hungary’s most reliable partner in guaranteeing energy security. All the more so because the South Stream pipeline project has been abandoned, and Croatia and Romania fail to meet European Union obligations to ensure reverse gas flows, he said.
Concerning the planned upgrade of the Paks nuclear power station, Szijjarto said Hungary is ready to start the Paks 2 project as soon as the final EU licence has been granted.
He said that since the introduction of sanctions, Hungary has lost 6.7 billion dollars in unrealised export. The sanctions have proven unsuccessful in both political and economic terms.
“It must not be Europe’s aim to be on bad terms with everybody; there is a pressing need for pragmatic cooperation with Russia,” he said.
In response to a question, Szijjártó said that Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty are beyond question and everybody must respect international treaties and regulations. The sanctions, however, have failed to produce progress in implementing the Minsk agreement and their extension should be debated at the highest level in the EU, he said.
Hungary to boost cooperation in space research with Russia
Hungary’s government decided to intensify cooperation with Russia in space research and the aerospace industry, the official gazette Magyar Közlöny said on Wednesday.
The government has regrouped 192 million forints (EUR 618,000) in this year’s budget for performing the diplomatic tasks related to such cooperation.
Russian president to arrive in Budapest early Thursday afternoon
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to arrive in Budapest early on Thursday afternoon for talks with Hungarian leaders.
The talks will focus on economic, energy, and cultural issues. Putin’s programme will include a closed-door meeting followed by a plenary discussion.
Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will hold a press conference at 3.25pm.
Orbán and Putin met in Budapest in February 2015, and in Moscow in February last year.