Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto expressed his country’s commitment to expanding cooperation with Russia, despite facing pressure from sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU). In a Facebook post, Szijjarto emphasized Hungary’s desire to pursue cooperation with Russia based on mutual respect and in line with its national interests.
Szijjarto’s remarks came after his meeting with Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, who co-chaired the Russian-Hungarian Intergovernmental Commission during the ‘Russian Energy Week’ forum in Moscow. While the EU has imposed restrictions on Moscow in relation to the situation in Ukraine, Hungary has maintained a neutral stance on the conflict and criticized the bloc’s sanctions policy. Hungary argues that the sanctions policy hurts the EU more than Russia.
The Hungarian foreign minister highlighted the sectors that are unaffected by the sanctions, particularly agriculture and healthcare. He stated that Budapest is eager to support the expansion of Hungarian agricultural and food companies in the Russian market and to encourage cooperation in the health sector.
Moreover, Szijjarto underscored the strategic importance of Hungarian-Russian cooperation in the energy sphere. He emphasized that Hungarian homes require heating during the cold weather, and that energy security cannot be guaranteed without Russia. Hungary continues to purchase Russian gas under a 15-year contract with Gazprom, which ensures the supply of 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Szijjarto also expressed the country’s hope that the oil transit from Russia to Hungary via Ukraine would remain unaffected financially, politically, and physically.
Despite the EU’s ban on imports of Russian seaborne oil and reduced purchases of pipeline gas from Moscow, Hungary managed to secure an exemption from the sanctions on Russian crude oil imports. The country heavily relies on Russia for 85% of its gas needs and has a contract with Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, to construct new reactors for its Paks-2 nuclear power plant.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban previously warned that rejecting Russian energy supplies would have detrimental effects on EU countries and would particularly devastate Hungary. Orban emphasized the importance of ensuring reliable energy sources for the country.
In conclusion, Hungary remains committed to expanding cooperation with Russia, especially in sectors unaffected by sanctions, such as agriculture, food, healthcare, and energy. The country believes that pursuing cooperation with Russia aligns with its national interests and emphasizes the strategic importance of maintaining reliable energy sources for its citizens. Despite facing pressure from EU sanctions, Hungary is determined to pursue its own independent foreign policy.