On September 17th, Hungary reached an agreement with Russia on gas deliveries for both 2019 and 2020. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as reported by Hungarian news agency MTI.
Budapest Business Journal cited Orban as saying he had asked President Putin to seriously consider extending the path of the TurkStream (Turkish Stream) natural gas pipeline into his country and further into Europe. TurkStream, which replaced the cancelled South Stream project, is currently under construction, extending from Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey.
“It is no secret that when the pipeline will be built in the direction of Hungary from the south, we would like it to pass through Hungary. That will be a great opportunity for Hungary and I asked Mr. President [Putin] to seriously consider such an option,” the Hungarian Prime Minister said.
“I do not rule out that after the completion of the Turkish Stream, one of its land extensions could pass through Hungary,” Putin said, as cited by RT.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto confirmed earlier Tuesday that Russiaʼs Gazprom had agreed to start talks with Hungary on gas deliveries for 2020. Hungary plans to buy about 4.1 billion cubic meters of gas from Gazprom, he added.
MTI noted that Szijjártó was scheduled to meet on September 24th with Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom, a day ahead of the official visit by Orban.
Hungaryʼs long-term contract for gas deliveries from Russia runs until 2021. Szijjarto acknowledged that much of Hungaryʼs energy supply comes from Russia.
“We are not in the position, as are others an ocean away, to say we donʼt have to talk with the Russians,” he commented.
He also added that talks on boosting Hungaryʼs role in the Moscow-based International Investment Bank (IIB) are at an advanced stage. The IIB is involved in Hungarian projects worth about EUR70 million at present, he noted.
Commenting on the cooperation between the countries, Putin noted that Budapest was always a reliable partner and announced that Rosatom would soon start the construction of two power units of the Paks-2 nuclear power plant (NPP).
“There are good opportunities for the development of Russian-Hungarian cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Rosatom will soon start building two new power units at Paks NPP, by the way, this nuclear power plant already produces 40 percent of electricity consumed in Hungary,” he said
Putin also said that Russia and Hungary are establishing a new intergovernmental commission for regional cooperation.
“In line with our initiative, an intergovernmental commission for regional cooperation is being set up, and its first meeting will be held before the end of this year,” the Russian President announced.
Orban and Putin have focused on the economy and energy at their meeting, according to Peter Szijjarto. In July, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Russian-Hungarian trade had grown by 25 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
The Kremlin press service earlier said that the two leaders would discuss topical bilateral issues as well as international ones.
Earlier, Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto stated that the two countries had agreed on the quantity and price of gas to be delivered to Hungary in 2019.
In June, the Bulgaran Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked Russia to extend the Turkish Stream to his country. Russia’s Gazprom is planning to extend the pipeline to Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia.
The US is a strong opponent of TurkStream in addition to NordStream 2. Donald Trump has voiced his concerns numerous times regarding the dependence of the European Union on Russian energy.