Budapest, January 29 (MTI) – A key question for Europe’s energy policy is whether the community can ensure energy for the economy at competitive prices, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after talks with Donald Tusk, his Polish counterpart, in Budapest today.
Parties at the talks agreed that energy must be made cheaper both at national and European level or else “Europe will not be able to compete with Russia, the US, or even China if the latter’s economy has access to cheaper energy than the EU economy,” Orban said.
The prime minister said Poland and Hungary shared the view that nuclear energy was “clean” and EU members had the right to use it as part of their energy supplies.
Orban voiced firm support for Hungary’s utility cuts programme, saying that despite the EU’s objections Hungary would not give up its ways of centrally reducing the price of energy for households. He suggested that a unified European energy market with lower prices was not to be hoped for in the near future. “By the time that happens I will be receiving my pension,” he said.
Concerning ties with Poland, Orban said that Hungary would reopen its consulate-general in Cracow in spring, which was closed down in 2009. He said south-north links are crucial, and referred to a gas interconnector between Hungary and Slovakia under construction, which he said should be linked to Poland as soon as possible. The prime minister also stressed the need to build quality roads between Hungary and Poland.
Tusk at the Heroes Square
Orban and Tusk agreed that the turnover of bilateral trade should be increased, and urged banks of both countries financing export and import activities to conclude their talks concerning a credit line of 200-300 million euros.
On the subject of the Hungarian economy, Orban said that growth was visible, manifested also in over 100,000 new jobs created during the past one year, which reduced unemployment to about 9 percent. “Hungary cannot be successful within the EU unless we are brave enough to find new ways, apply new methods and take other measures than those that had driven the country as well as the whole European community into an economic crisis,” Orban said.
At the press conference, Tusk insisted that each country had the right to shape their own energy policy. Energy should never be the subject of political pressure, he said. Europe must find its own energy sources, he said and mentioned shale gas as an example.
Tusk said that bilateral relations were free of any problems, with the two countries thinking along the same lines and sharing interests. Hungary and Poland are in a good cooperation in the Visegrad group and loyal to each other in the EU, he added.
At the press conference, representatives of the two countries signed a secrecy accord as well as a letter intention on a civil cooperation programme.