© Getty Images / Noppasin Wongchum
The EU’s restrictions are not working, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said © Getty Images / Noppasin Wongchum
Budapest will not support Brussels’ next round of sanctions on Moscow if it includes measures against Russia’s energy sector, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview with RIA Novosti published on Saturday.
According to Szijjarto, any restrictions on Russian energy would run counter to Hungary’s national interests.
“I can tell you for sure: If the next package contains something that contradicts our national interests, we will definitely not agree to its adoption. The red line for us obviously concerns energy, gas, oil, nuclear energy, and any other aspects which could harm our nation’s economy,” he stated.
Szijjarto reiterated earlier statements that the sanctions are not working the way Western countries expected them to, and said he sees no point in further pursuing the policy.
“The sanctions policy simply does not work. Sanctions may harm Russia… but they definitely cause greater harm to the European economy, to European countries. And if the sanctions cause more harm to those who impose them than to those against whom they are directed, then what’s the point of continuing with them?” the foreign minister said.
Szijjarto noted that Russia has been steadily supplying Hungary with natural gas under its 15-year contract with Russian state energy major Gazprom. He added that Budapest expects to continue buying Russian gas even if Ukraine, through which it receives the fuel, decides not to extend its transit contract with Russia.
“I’m not entirely sure that Ukraine is ready to lose so much income, [but] if necessary, we are ready to discuss the alternatives, because we consider this a technical issue. It’s not about delivery. It’s not about the quantity, but about the route. Which doesn’t matter to us.”
The foreign minister also announced that Hungary recently received its third shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia this year for the Paks Nuclear Power Plant. Russia’s Rosatom is currently building two new power blocks at the plant, which are expected to become operational by 2032. Szijjarto called cooperation with Russia in the nuclear energy sphere “excellent,” noting the high quality of Russia’s nuclear fuel and Rosatom’s strict adherence to delivery deadlines.
“And if I understand correctly, other Central European countries, despite persistent entreaties from the West, also continue to work with the Russian nuclear fuel supplier,” he added.
Budapest has repeatedly said that it will not allow the EU to impose sanctions on organizations and enterprises linked to Russia’s nuclear energy industry. According to Szijjarto, to operate a nuclear power plant, “fuel cells, not political statements,” are needed – therefore there is “no place for politics, geopolitics, or sanctions.”
Earlier this month, reports emerged that Brussels is in the final stages of putting together its 12th sanctions package against Russia, and that it may include restrictions on Russia’s nuclear industry and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. However, in order for the European Commission to include any measures in the package, it requires approval from all EU member states.
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