Hungary-Russia deal sparks row with Ukraine

Hungary has signed a 15-year gas purchase agreement with Gazprom which will ensure the country’s long-term energy security, the minister of foreign affairs and trade announced.

Under the agreement, Hungary has pledged to buy 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year from the Russian energy giant over a period of at least ten years, Peter Szijjarto said at the signing ceremony on Monday.

Hungary will have the opportunity to modify the amount purchased after ten years, he added. Gazprom will deliver 3.5 billion cubic meters via the Serbian-Hungarian interconnector which is slated to start operation on Oct. 1, and the remaining one billion cubic meters via Austria, he added. The price is significantly lower than what has been paid up to now based on an agreement signed in 1995, and will contribute to “maintaining the achievements of the utility price cuts, and Hungarián consumers will continue to pay one of the lowest prices in the European Union,” Szijjarto said. Energy security has always been a key strategic and national security issue in central Europe, he said. Natural gas has a key role in this regard in Europe as well as in Hungary, he said. The EU received 48% of its gas supply form Gazprom last year, the minister said.

Following the agreement, Kiev vowed to request the European Commission to assess the agreement’s compliance with the EU’s energy laws. In response, Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned the Ukrainian ambassador. “The Ukrainian government’s actions aimed against the deal, through the European Commission, are extremely outrageous,” Szijjarto stressed on Facebook. “Ukraine has nothing to do with those we make deals with,” Szijjarto said. He pointed out that Budapest viewed such steps by Kiev as “a violation of [Hungary’s] sovereignty and national security interests,” TASS reports. Szijjarto also described Kiev’s step as unfriendly, pointing to the support that Hungary had earlier provided to Ukraine, including the provision of lung ventilators and medical equipment, as well as investment.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is inviting Hungary’s ambassador in Kiev to brief him on our fundamental position. He explained that, in Kiev’s opinion, gas transportation routes bypassing Ukraine undermined its national security and also Europe’s energy security.

Source: MTI, TASS
Photo: MTI

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