Despite the Ukraine war’s dramatic effect on the security of energy supplies, Hungary and Serbia “have helped each other preserve their energy security within friendly and strategic cooperation and will continue to do so in the future”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Belgrade on Tuesday.
The war has seriously harmed both countries, and “both Hungary and Serbia are interested in achieving peace as soon as possible,” Szijjártó said. “We regret that the rhetoric of war is far louder than the voice of peace and regret that a number of decisions and statements are currently made that pose a risk of prolonging and possibly escalating the war,” he added. At talks with Dubravka Djedovic, Serbia’s mining and energy minister, the ministers councluded that their countries had successfully coped with issues around energy supplies “in an extremely uncertain environment of energy supplies impacted by the war and related sanctions”.
Szijjártó said Serbia was a “fair partner in terms of imported gas transits”, adding that Hungary had received 4.8 billion cubic metres of gas last year via the Turkish Stream pipeline crossing Serbia. At the same time, Hungary stored 300 million cubic metres of gas in its facilities for Serbia and is ready to extend last year’s agreement and store another 500 million cubic metres in 2023, he added.
According to Szijjártó, the “most realistic scenario” for achieving long-term energy security through diversification of supplies was to import larger amounts of gas from Azerbaijan, which, in turn, required major infrastructural developments such as further pipelines and interconnectors in the region. He welcomed the upcoming completion of an interconnector between Serbia and Bulgaria, and also announced that negotiations on a long-term gas purchase agreement with Azerbaijan were at an advanced stage. Gas from Azerbaijan could reach Hungary via Turkiye and Bulgaria and then via Romania or Serbia, he added.
A current project aimed at doubling the capacity of electric links between Serbia and Hungary is being implemented on schedule, Szijjártó said, adding that it would also contribute to the security of power supplies for both countries.
The Serbian minister highlighted the “excellent cooperation” between her country and Hungary on the Balkan Stream gas pipeline construction, which ensures secure supplies to both countries.