Hungarian-Russian relations will soon be characterised by success stories, having been in a downswing for many long years, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, in Moscow on Wednesday. He also commented on the issues of the conflict with Ukraine, and energy security.
The two countries have agreed that from 2020, Hungary will import more than 4 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia, the minister said. A direct flight will be launched between Budapest and Kazan and a Hungarian-Russian consortium has signed a contract worth more than 1 billion euros on the delivery of 1,300 passenger carriages to Egypt, he added. Hungary and Russia will also collaborate in establishing a central European oncology centre in Budapest, he said, adding that the International Investment Bank will also establish a centre in the Hungarian capital.
Szijjarto noted that these agreements were reached in his talks with three Russian ministers in recent days. This week, Szijjarto also met Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Industry Minister Denis Manturov.
In response to a question, the minister noted that the main event of the Russian Energy Week conference in Moscow had been attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin along with the leaders of major western European energy companies such as Total, Enel and Shell. These companies are working with Russian energy giant Gazprom on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, he said.
“So, this big step will be taken in connection with the energy security of western Europe and we would like it if a big step were also taken concerning the energy security of central Europe,”
Szijjarto said. “And we also demand the right to import gas through a new supply route the same way that western European countries can in the north.”
“We demand that western Europe and Brussels should not make it impossible for us to have access to a new supply route from the south,”
he said. The minister said western Europe should not get in the way of central European and Balkan countries that want to import gas from the second line of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline.
Lavrov said Russia had always been a reliable energy supplier. Objections to developing Russian-European cooperation have mostly been raised “overseas”, he said. Lavrov expressed hope that European states will decide on gas import independently and based on economic and not political considerations. The ministers also pledged to cooperate in the interests of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
Ukraine ‘has no grounds’ to expel Hungarian consul
Ukraine “has no grounds” to expel the Hungarian consul serving in the Transcarpathian town of Berehove (Beregszasz), and Hungary will retaliate in kind should the Ukrainian government move to do so, Szijjarto said. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said he would not rule out expelling the Hungarian consul from the country after hidden camera footage showing the diplomat conducting a Hungarian citizenship oath-taking ceremony for Ukrainian citizens at the consulate appeared online. Szijjarto reacted by condemning what he called “the Ukrainian leadership’s attempt to intimidate the ethnic Hungarian community in Transcarpathia”.
The consul breached no international, Ukrainian or Hungarian law, he said. Kiev has “ruined the good relations” between the two countries with measures targeting the Hungarian minorities in Ukraine, Szijjarto said. Klimkin said on Wednesday that Ukraine would send a diplomatic note to Hungary on Thursday, expelling the consul from Ukraine.
Source and photo: MTI