“Guaranteeing a secure energy supply is one of the greatest challenges facing Central Europe, and for this reason natural gas procurement routes must be diversified, which is also of critical importance to Hungary”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stressed on Wednesday in Belgrade following talks with Serbian Minister for Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antić and Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova.

Mr. Szijjártó said natural gas is not currently arriving in Central Europe from the South, and accordingly it is an obvious solution and endeavour to improve energy security from this direction. According to the Minister, one possible scenario for achieving this is a natural gas transport route to Hungary via Bulgaria and Serbia, the prerequisite of which is the construction of the second stage of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline by Gazprom. The first Turkish Stream pipeline will serve Turkey’s internal consumption requirements, and the second pipeline would provide the opportunity to purchase enough gas to supply Central Europe, he explained.

According to Gazprom, it will complete construction of the second pipeline to Bulgaria by 2019, after which the Bulgarians must develop their domestic network by constructing 400 kilometres of new pipeline and installing gas compressors, the Minister said. This process will be complete by the end of 2022, by which time the Serbian party will also develop its own network. “This means that the Serbian and Bulgarian internal network development projects and the development of Hungarian infrastructure will enable natural gas to arrive in Central Europe, including Hungary, from the south beginning in 2022”, Mr. Szijjártó added.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó had talks in Belgrade with Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić, and also with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. The parties mainly discussed political issues, primarily relating to Serbia’s European integration.

Mr. Szijjártó informed the Serbian politicians that Hungary is a supporter of EU enlargement, and believes that Serbia’s European integration is vital to the stability of the whole region. According to Hungary’s proposal, all negotiation chapters relating to the Serbian integration process should be opened before the end of this year, the Minister stressed, because according to Hungary’s standpoint if the Serbian integration process is accelerated, it will be critically important to the stability of the whole of the Western Balkans and also from the perspective of Hungarian security. “I confirmed that we will not accept double standards within the European Union, and will not accept the fact that Serbia should be forced to meet conditions that other member states or prospective member states have not been required to fulfil”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed.

According to the statement issued by the Serbian Foreign Ministry, the two politicians agreed that achieving energy security and improving infrastructure links were among the most important tasks for the upcoming period. According to the statement, Mr. Szijjártó expressed his satisfaction with relation to the status of the Hungarian minority living in Serbia.

The two ministers also discussed topical regional and international issues, with particular emphasis on the migration pressure on the region.

The Office of the President of the Republic issued a statement informing the press that during the meeting between Péter Szijjártó and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić the parties stressed that Hungarian-Serbian relations are at a historic high, thanks to the commitment and openness to bilateral relations expressed by the Hungarian Government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. President Vučić declared that he is committed to the continuous development of friendly relations and thanked Hungary for its support with relation to the Serbia’s European integration process.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)