Hungary foreign minister in Moscow for gas supply talks

Hungary’s foreign minister says he wants to discuss ensuring gas supplies for his country and finding a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov shakes hands with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Moscow [Reuters]

Hungary’s foreign minister has arrived in Moscow where he wants to talk about ensuring gas supplies for his country and finding a peaceful solution to the war in Ukraine.

Peter Szijjarto will meet Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and deputy prime minister Alexander Novak, state news agency MTI reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

Szijjarto and Lavrov were expected to hold a news conference later on Thursday.

“We have arrived in Moscow. We have two tasks ahead: to ensure that there will be natural gas supplies for Hungarian people and stress that we want peace as soon as possible,” Szijjarto posted on his Facebook page on Thursday.

Under a 15-year deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year via Bulgaria and Serbia, and a further 1 bcm through a pipeline from Austria.

Szijjarto said earlier that Budapest was in talks to buy more gas on the market before the heating season as countries in Europe scramble to fill up and as energy prices skyrocket.

He also said on Monday that Hungary was in talks with Russia about redirecting all the gas shipments under the long-term supply deal to the Turkstream pipeline that brings gas to Hungary via Serbia.

‘Current market situation’

Meanwhile, Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia would consider a Hungarian request to increase gas purchases.

Szijjarto told a news conference that in order to ensure the safety of supplies, Hungary needed a further 700 million cubic meters of gas on top of the existing supply deal with Russia.

“Looking at the current market situation, like it or not … without Russian sources, it would not be possible to buy an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas,” Szijjarto said, adding talks were under way with Russia about the additional purchases.

INTERACTIVE - Russian gas imports into the EU - Europe's reliance on Russian gas

Szijjarto said Hungary’s gas storage had been filled to a level that covers just over 27 percent of the country’s annual consumption needs.

“My goal is to complete the talks as soon as possible,” he added, reiterating that Hungary also wants a ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine.

European Union member Hungary has maintained close relations with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, opposing EU plans to reduce dependency on Russian oil and gas imports.

Hungary, which gets 85 percent of its natural gas and more than 60 percent of its oil from Russia, previously said the EU oil boycott would be an “atomic bomb” for its economy and destroy its “stable energy supply”.

Last week, the government in Hungary declared an “energy emergency” in response to supply disruptions and skyrocketing energy prices in the region.

Some measures that are expected to go into effect in August include the banning of energy exports and increasing production at Hungary’s only nuclear power plant.

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund warned that a Russian natural gas embargo would cause deep recessions in Hungary, as well as in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Italy.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies