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PM Zubkov visits Hungary for inter-government talks

Russia’s prime minister will pay a one-day visit to Hungary on Friday for inter-governmental consultations designed to boost economic ties, the government’s press office said.

A source in the delegation to accompany Viktor Zubkov said the visit would mark the „new format of Russian-Hungarian relations” agreed upon by President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Premier Ferenc Gyurcsány, and would improve coordination and encourage economic cooperation. „During the consultations, the parties will discuss a draft action plan for the governments of Russia and Hungary in 2008-2009, which will provide an outline of the main areas of cooperation,” the delegate said. He said relations with Hungary were pragmatic, not politicized, and served as a „model for relations between Russia and European Union and NATO countries.” Trade between the two countries is expected to end the year at around $9, he said.

Over the past five years, trade has tripled, reaching $8.2 billion in 2006. However, growth in commodity turnover has slowed somewhat in 2007 due to a decline in energy consumption in the former Eastern Bloc state during the warm winter. Hydrocarbons dominate Russia’s exports to Hungary. In 2006, Russia supplied 8.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 6.8 million metric tons of oil to the country. Independent crude producer LUKoil supplies about 5 million metric tons annually and runs over 70 filling stations in the country. Hungary exports machinery, equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemical products and foodstuffs to Russia.

Hungarian national air carrier Malév could sign a deal with Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, a subsidiary of Sukhoi aircraft manufacturing holding, to buy 15 Sukhoi SuperJet-100 medium-haul passenger aircraft on the sidelines of the inter-government talks. Malév, in which Russia’s richest man Roman Abramovich holds a large stake, announced plans to acquire Russian airliners in spring. The catalogue price of a 95-seat basic version of the Sukhoi SuperJet-100 is $28 million. „This is a very interesting deal. If it is signed, our outstanding aircraft will appear on European market,” the Russian delegation source said. He said the premiers are also expected to sign an agreement on the opening of a Hungarian consulate in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg, and a host of other documents to encourage cooperation between Hungary and Russian provinces, and bilateral cultural ties. (