Minister: Europe needs strategic partnership with Russia

Int’l Relations

Europe needs to maintain a strategic partnership with Russia in order to recover what it lost in competitiveness since the beginning of the crisis, Hungary's minister for foreign affairs and trade said in an interview with Slovak business daily Hospodarske Noviny published today.

The Hungarian economy experienced losses of nearly €300,000 a day as a consequence of the Russian embargo, Szijjártó said. The Russian-Ukranian crisis had a significant negative impact on the European economy and there are no signs of it improving, he added.

"Europe's competitiveness has decreased since the 2008 crisis and the strategic partnership with Russia is the only way to at least partly regain it," Szijjártó noted.

Commenting on Hungary stopping gas supplies to Ukraine, Szijjártó said that reserves in Hungary were less than 60% full when he was appointed and considering the uncertain situation in Europe, Hungary wanted to make sure that reserves would be at 100% before the start of winter

Szijjártó said that during talks with Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajcak, the Hungarian-Slovak interconnector was the most important topic and it could significantly contribute to energy security. The operation of the interconnector is scheduled to start on January 1, 2015, and its full annual capacity will be 6.7 billion cubic metres.

Szijjártó also noted that Hungary is dedicated to continuing the construction of the South stream gas pipeline. 

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