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Perry urges Hungary to ditch Russian gas projects

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry met in the Parliament building in Budapest on Tuesday, with Perry urging the Hungarian government to ditch Russian energy for other projects, according to a report by state news agency MTI.

Perry (left) at the press briefing with Szijjártó (photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

According to Orbánʼs press chief Bertalan Havasi, the sides discussed energy issues in Central Europe and bilateral ties between Hungary and the U.S. They agreed that diversifying energy supply is in the fundamental interests of both Hungary and Central Europe, and the prime minister welcomed American efforts and investments in this area, he added.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, head of the PMʼs Cabinet Office Antal Rogán and U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David B. Cornstein also participated at the meeting.

At a joint press conference with Szijjártó on Tuesday, Perry said Washington opposes the construction of a Russian gas pipeline to Central Europe and does not want Hungary to participate in the project. 

"Russia is using energy sources as a weapon, and for this reason relieving dependence on Russian gas is also a security issue," he stressed, according to official government website kormany.hu.

In addition to diversifying energy supply, Perry recommended the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, noting the market is developing at an accelerated pace.

Szijjártó said an LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk, as well as gas fields in the Black Sea, could present a solution for Hungary. Getting LNG from Krk would be "very expensive" at the moment, however, and accessing the reserves in the Black Sea is conditional on the investment decisions of an American and an Austrian company, thus Hungary is counting on the mediation of the U.S. on both matters, he added.

Hungaryʼs government has fulfilled its commitments, negotiated with the parties involved, and will build the necessary infrastructure, Szijjártó noted.

The minister added that conventional energy sources are also important for Hungary, but the country sees a double standard in the way Central Europe is called to account for importing Russian gas, while Western Europe is preparing a huge energy deal with Moscow.