Hungary Signs Russian Gas Deal Despite EU Objections

Thursday, September 1, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , ,

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

BUDAPEST/PRAGUE (Worthy News) – In defiance of policies, signed a deal with ’s energy giant Gazprom to increase natural gas deliveries.

Under the agreement, supplies would increase to as much as 5,8 billion cubic meters, some 5,8 million cubic meters more natural gas per day, government officials said.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó specified that the additional natural gas delivered by Gazprom would start flowing in September and October.

The gas will arrive in Hungary via Serbia, a close ally of Russia, and is more than what was specified in its long-term contract.

“Hungary’s energy supply is safe,” said Zoltán Kovács, international spokesman for Hungary’s government.

However, the deal was due to further anger other EU member states that were trying to reduce their reliance on energy from Russia to protest its invasion of Ukraine.

HUNGARY’S NEIGHBORS ANGRY

Several EU nations, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, questioned Hungary’s pro-Russian policies undermining their cooperation with Hungary in the regional Visegrad group.

Yet, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, defended his actions saying his EU nation of 10 million is heavily dependent on Russian energy.

There were signs that Moscow tried to divide the 27-nation EU by sending more natural gas to Hungary while halting or reducing deliveries to big consumers such as France or Germany, with Gazprom citing technical or financial reasons.

Confirmation about Hungary’s energy moves came as EU ministers in the Czech capital Prague agreed to ban visas for Russian tourists despite objections expressed by Hungary.

And the EU affairs chief of the Czech government, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, warned that Hungary must improve its rule of law before receiving any European Union recovery funds.

Hungary and Poland have yet to receive billions of euros of post-COVID pandemic EU aid as their governments have not met Brussels’ demands on respecting the rule of law.

AMENDING LEGISLATION?

The rightwing Hungarian government said last week it would amend several laws criticized by the EU’s executive European Commission by the end of October if an agreement on financial aid is reached.

But Czech EU Affairs Minister Mikulas Bek said in published remarks that there is hardly any willingness in the Commission or among EU members to accept Hungary’s promises without seeing action first.

“I am not sure that dialogue can facilitate anything in this matter (anymore),” he added, saying ultimately, Hungary’s financial interests could drive it to make the desired changes.

Hungary’s credibility is damaged by its lack of solidarity on specific EU issues, for example, its demand to drop Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill from an anti-Russian sanctions list, the minister said.

Bek explained that in Poland, funds are also being held up by a clash over Polish judicial reforms, which the EU executive claims subvert democratic standards.

But Bek stressed that, unlike Hungary, Poland has started working towards a solution by making changes demanded by Brussels.

Hungarian position parties have expressed concern about the government’s stance towards Russia. They fear growing Russian influence over natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy as well as other investments in Hungary, a former Soviet satellite state that began shrugging off Moscow’s domination in the late 1980s.

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