Hungarian foreign minister in Moscow to secure additional gas deliveries
Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto visited Moscow with a government mandate to buy an additional 700mcm of gas from Russia in addition to the 4.5bcm under a long-term agreement with Gazprom.
Szijjarto’s visit came on the day, the EU approved new sanctions against Russia. The seventh round of sanctions imposes a ban on the purchase, import, export, or transfer, directly or indirectly, of gold originating in Russia to the EU or any third country.
At a joint press conference with his Russian peer, Sergey Lavrov, Szijjarto said Hungary has taken steps to make additional pipeline capacity available for the delivery of 20mcm of gas a day.
"In the current market situation, it is clear that getting another 700mcm of gas is impossible without deliveries from Russia, whether we like it or not," he said. The government issued the mandate to buy the gas, in addition to volumes, Hungary is getting under the framework of long-term delivery contracts, a week earlier, declaring an energy "state of emergency" as gas shortages in Europe loomed.
Lavrov said Russia would "immediately weigh" Hungary's request for more gas.
In September, Hungary’s state energy giant MVM signed a long-term contract with Gazprom to supply 4.5bcm of gas per year through Serbia (3.5bcm) and Austria (1.5bcm). The 15-year agreement can be renegotiated after 10 years.
Hungary covered 80-90% of its gas needs, 9bcm-10bcm from Russia through the Friendship pipeline passing Ukraine until 2021 under similar long-term contracts since the 1990s. Gazprom delivered 8.6bcm of gas to Hungary in 2020, down from 10.5bcm in 2019.
In addition to ensuring Hungary's secure energy supply in the coming months, Szijjarto said he had also come to Moscow to make clear that "Hungary wants peace as soon as possible" and urged an immediate ceasefire and peace talks.
He added that Hungary does not wish to be "on the periphery", again, between two blocs.
In addition to meeting with Lavrov, Szijjarto held talks with Alexander Novak, Russia's deputy prime minister in charge of energy, and with Denis Manturov, the deputy PM for trade and industry.
The first five minutes of the negotiations with Sergey Lavrov were posted on Szijjarto’s Facebook page.
While Hungary’s top diplomat was in Moscow, his deputy Levente Magyar met with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk in Kyiv on Thursday.
Hungary will continue to provide humanitarian help to Ukraine "through all possible channels", Magyar told the Metropolitan Epiphanius, the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Since the war, some 900,000 Ukrainians fled the country to Hungary, but the vast majority of them used Hungary as a transit to Western Europe or Poland.