Szijjártó discusses energy in Moscow

World

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak yesterday discussed alternative ways of delivering Russian natural gas to Central Europe following Russia’s recent withdrawal from the planned South Stream gas pipeline project, Hungarian news agency MTI reports.

Szijjártó and Novak also reportedly touched on nuclear power plans in Hungary and discussed ways to strenghten the presence of Hungarian oil and gas company MOL in Russia.

Novak reaffirmed Russia's commitment to continued energy cooperation with Europe in the future following the end of Russia's plan to build a pipeline that crossed the Black Sea. That pipeline, which would have allowed Russia to bypass Ukraine when shipping gas to Europe, could have made Hungary a more important partner for storing and distributing Russian gas, but the project was opposed by the EU for allegedly allowing Russia's Gazprom to hold a monopoly over gas distribution.

Novak said Russia plans to deliver the full amount of gas that was originally going to be supplied by South Stream to a facility in Turkey, where a major regional gas distribution center is to be constructed near the border with Greece, Szijjártó said. That route would also bypass Ukraine.

According to the foreign minister, Hungary's current task is to establish the financial, technical and infrastructural background in order to bring gas supplied by Russia and partly by Azerbaijan via Turkey and south-eastern Europe to central Europe. To do this, he said, Hungary needs to negotiate with Greece and western Balkan countries on a “new potential route”. Szijjártó, who was already engaged in negotiations with his Macedonian and Serbian counterparts last week, said he expects negotiations to intensify during the first months of 2015.

Szijjártó said the planned expansion of Hungary's sole nuclear plant at Paks had not been discussed in detail. Novak stated with satisfaction that Russia and Hungary are cooperating to maintain and boost Hungary's nuclear energy capacity. Szijjártó said Novak reassured him that leading Russian state nuclear energy firm Rosatom's cooperation with Hungary would continue to be smooth.

Concerning the situation in Russia of Hungary's MOL, Novak said it wasn't against Moscow's interest if the company would continue to be present in the Russian oil market and tap further opportunities there.

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