If the West and Russia do not engage in talks but instead allow their communications channels to fade, “we are giving up even the hope for peace in the current awful situation”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Moscow on Thursday.
According to a ministry statement, Szijjártó told a panel discussion at the Russia Energy Week that though his participation in the event as a European Union and NATO foreign minister was considered “out of the ordinary”, Hungary had not given up hope for peace being achieved in its neighbourhood in the shortest possible timeframe.
“The situation is terrible,” Szijjártó said. “People are dying and suffering, prices are sky high, inflation is at a record high, and we’re facing the first ever general global energy supply crisis.”
“As we know, the solution to this awful situation can be expressed in a single word, and that is ‘peace’,” he said, adding that Hungary had condemned the war from the start and urged a ceasefire and peace talks.
He said Hungary considered energy cooperation a purely physical matter, rather than an ideological or political one, arguing that “it’s impossible to heat homes and cook politically or ideologically.”
“It is therefore fully in our interest to maintain energy cooperation between Russia and Hungary,” Szijjártó said. “We’ve made it clear that we will not support any form of sanctions that endangered the security of our country’s energy supply.”
The minister underscored the importance of the operation of the TurkStream gas pipeline, saying it was crucial to avoid incidents like the sabotage of the Nord Stream offshore pipeline.
National interests determine Hungary’s position, not Ukrainian or Russian interests, he said.
On the topic of the green transition, Szijjártó said this was a practical rather than a political matter, and the government sees environmental protection as important to preserving the planet. He said attempts were being made to appropriate the issue, but the more politicised green policymaking was made, the more discredited it became.
Environmental protection must be pursued hand in glove with enhancing economic performance and competitiveness, and this balance must be carefully maintained, he added.
“Nuclear energy is clean, safe, cheap and sustainable … there’s never been any doubt about that,” the minister said.
Regarding Russia sanctions, Szijjártó said they caused Hungary and Europe “great pain” and they possibly bore the brunt more so than Russia. “Peace is the only solution,” he said.
Hungary’s energy costs came to 7 billion euros last year, he said. This year they will amount to 19 billion euros, while the bill may be 29 billion euros in 2023, he added.
Peter Szijjártó was scheduled to meet Denis Manturov, a deputy prime minister for industry and trade, and Aleksandr Novak, also a deputy PM, as well as Kirill Komarov, a deputy head of energy company Rosatom.