Following Sunday’s elections, which confirmed the fourth term of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, several urgent tasks were highlighted for the future. Among those, ensuring the security of the energy supply will continue to be a priority for the government.
During a press conference, Mr Orbán recalled when already in 2009 he understood that Russia would be part of the European security architecture. Now, in light of the country’s high exposure to Russian energy supplies, the Prime Minister said that “something new is starting here” and that he will sit down with experts in the field and create the Hungarian government’s updated Russia policy.
And there is the possibility that Hungary will pay for Russian gas in rubles, after the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of March.
“Russia will accept payment only in rubles for gas from unfriendly countries that include all Member States of the European Union,” he had said.
Now, when asked whether Hungary is ready to comply with Russia’s demand to continue paying for gas in rubles Mr Orbán said that they “don’t have any difficulty paying in rubles, if the Russians ask us to, we pay in rubles.”
Hungary’s neighbours are indeed taking another direction with Slovakia discussing with Qatar the possibility of LNG imports and Poland willing to extend the sanctions to oil and gas imports as well (after the EU announced an import ban on coal from Russia, worth 4 billion euros per year).
“Poland has the sea, it can somehow manage its energy supply,” Viktor Orbán said. “Hungary can only get energy from pipelines – if sanctions are imposed, there will be none.
There are different Hungarian and Polish interests which do not allow a common policy.”
Then he mentioned the construction of the nuclear power plant Paks II and a further increase of solar power as an opportunity to decrease the country’s gas demand by 10 per cent, therefore reducing dependency on other sources and at the same time ensuring the security of supply. As he said, “we’re trying to guarantee that there will always be gas.”
Moreover, as another priority, Hungary will aim to curb increasing energy prices and prevent an energy crisis.
“To do this, we must suspend the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the mechanism linking electricity prices to gas prices,” the Prime Minister said. “Similarly, the requirement to include compulsory biofuels must also be suspended.”
Photo: Zoltan Kovacs/Facebook.