The Hungarian government will refuse to approve any sanctions that would make the transit of Russian oil and natural gas to Hungary impossible, as this would jeopardize the country’s energy security, given the dependence of its infrastructure on Russian deliveries, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said. Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjárto mentioned tuesday.
While Hungary has so far voted for all of the European Union’s sanctions packages, it has faced “unfair and unjust” attacks, according to a ministry statement released after Szijjártó held a conference of joint press with his Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi.
He said Hungary was open and direct about its reluctance to give up its security of energy supply, adding that the government was protecting the national interest above all else.
“We don’t care what people in the East or West think,” he said. “This is a real energy security issue because it is currently physically impossible to run the economy without Russian crude.”
About 20,000 tons every day, or 65% of Hungary’s oil consumption, comes from Russia through the Friendship Pipeline, he said, adding that no alternative supply route was available to replace this quantity.
The Croatian section of the Adriatic gas pipeline has significant capacity limitations, the minister said, while the development of the necessary infrastructure would require huge investments, and it was not certain whether Zagreb would accept this; and if so, it was unclear how long it would take to do so, he added.
Under the circumstances, Hungary, he said, did not have time to modify its refinery to switch to another type of crude, and it did not yet know exactly how many hundreds of millions of dollars it would cost. .
Hungary, he added, has supported the diversification of European energy supply and has made progress in this direction by increasing oil imports from Kazakhstan, which now cover 16% of its total consumption. Yet this is supplied via Russia and could be subject to sanctions.
Meanwhile, Szijjjártó said oil and gas company MOL is the technical director of a Kazakh-Chinese-Hungarian consortium that plans to extract a large gas field in Kazakhstan pending approval from the Kazakh government. Mining could start next year, he added.
Szijjártó praised Kazakhstan for fighting terrorism and ensuring stability in the neighboring region of Afghanistan by preventing the spread of extremist ideologies and taking action against migration and smuggling.
The minister is due to meet Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and travel to Kyrgyzstan later today.
Featured photo via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page