The security of the TurkStream gas pipeline is of paramount importance for Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, told a conference in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Szijjártó addressed a meeting of energy ministers of the Organisation of Turkic States (OTS) in Almaty. The minister highlighted the increasing importance of the TurkStream pipeline, which is delivering natural gas from Russia via Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary. Especially now when gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea are suffering disruptions, he said.
Szijjártó called on the leaders of countries being a partner to TurkStream to keep monitoring the pipeline’s operation. He said on Facebook the Hungarian government had repeatedly been attacked in connection with the implementation of the TurkStream project, adding that “without this pipeline, Hungary would be in a big trouble”.
Referring to the European Union’s sanctions against Russia, Szijjártó said they had led to a serious energy crisis in Europe with global implications. “The sanctions could be more painful for Europe than for the Russian Federation,” he added. The security of energy supplies is a physical, rather than an ideological or political issue for the Hungarian government, “therefore it is not a political question either, where energy is bought from,” he said.
The Hungarian government will never support any sanctions that could compromise the country’s energy supplies, “whether it is nuclear energy, oil or gas”, he said, adding that the government would represent the same position during talks on the EU’s 8th package of sanctions.
The Hungarian government has worked to diversify energy supplies, and the TurkStream pipeline has “proved to be the best investment”, as this is the only one coming from Russia that “is working with a 100-percent security”, the minister said.
TurkStream supplies 50-60 percent of Hungary’s gas supply, Szijjártó said, adding that it had facilitated building reserves to cover 42 percent of the country’s annual consumption. He warned, however, that new sources had to be identified, and pointed to Central Asia, which has 10.5 percent of the world’s gas deposits. He urged that the EU should take steps to build infrastructure to provide access to gas in Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and to negotiate relevant deals.
An upgrade of the Trans-Anatolian, and Trans-Adriatic pipelines is necessary, while the Southern gas corridor should be linked to central Europe through the Western Balkans, Szijjártó said. The government also supports projects to import Azerbaijan’s green power, produced by wind farms, through a cable under the sea, he added.
Concerning the upgrade of Hungary’s Paks nuclear plant, Szijjártó said the plant supplied half of the country’s demand, adding that the government would not support “any EU sanctions that would hinder implementation of the project” by an international consortium led by Russia’s Rosatom.
Szijjártó noted that the OTS member states and observer countries had outlined their priorities in green transition at the session. He said the Hungarian government was committed to the cause of environment protection, but warned that “the green cause must be prevented from being disappropriated by political movements”.