“Close cooperation is required in the central, eastern and southern parts of Europe to enable the realisation of those projects that serve the region’s energy security”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Friday at a Eurasian energy security forum in Belgrade.

“Guaranteeing energy security is currently one of the greatest challenges worldwide, and has always been an important issue in Central Europe”, he pointed out.

“Diversification is required within the region with regard to the origin and routes of energy sources”, he highlighted.

“Four principles must be respected: energy investment decisions must be made while taking into account the interests of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, double standards must be done away with, each country must have the right to decide its make-up of energy sources, and there is a need for Eurasian cooperation”, the Minister explained.

With relation to double standards, Mr. Szijjártó said that often nobody criticises what the Western European countries do in the interests of guaranteeing their energy security, but the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are often criticised for similar measures.

“It must be made clear that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have exactly the same rights and must be treated in exactly the same way as Western European countries”, he explained.

Mr. Szijjártó drew attention to the fact that whenever there has been a conflict between East and West, Central Europe has always been the loser. “It is no exaggeration to state that we never again want to be losers”, the Minister said.

“Hungary does not want to stand by America or Russia when it makes decisions, but by the interests of the Hungarian people”, he added. “The point is that there needs to be a balance between East and West, and this requires mutual respect”, he underlined.

There is a possibility that new energy sources will be discovered, and if the areas of the Black Sea belonging to Romania are exploited then there will be a new energy source in the region, he told the press.

“Gazprom is constructing two Turkish Stream pipelines, one for the Turkish market, and one, which we hope will serve the Balkans and Central Europe. This pipeline will transport gas via Bulgaria and Serbia to Hungary, and from there to Slovakia and Austria”, he added.

The Minister said that in his opinion this project is receiving heavy criticism, the cause of which is hypocrisy and double standards. He drew attention to the fact that the largest energy investment, the construction of the North Stream 2 pipeline, is currently ongoing in Western Europe, through which Russian gas will reach Western Europe and guarantee the energy supply of the Western European countries.

“We must demand that a similar development project also becomes possible in Central Europe”, the Minister stressed, explaining that this project would be the Turkish Stream.

“The two investment projects include the same elements, i.e. we are talking about Russian gas; Gazprom is involved in both projects, and both call for new routes”, he said.

“If the European Commission has no objection to the Western European gas pipeline, why has it objected to the smaller pipeline planned by the countries of Central Europe?”,  the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade asked.

Mr. Szijjártó said that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are often criticised for cooperating with Russia within the field of energy, when in fact there are countries in Western Europe that maintain much close cooperation with Russia.

“A double standard cannot be applied”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister repeatedly underlined.

With relation to nuclear energy, Mr. Szijjártó said that Hungary has been using nuclear energy since the 1980s, and this energy source currently provides 40 percent of the country’s electricity requirements, and that Hungary would like to increase this ratio in the long term.

“This investment and development project is not just an issue of energy, but also of economic development” he said.

“In this region, where economic competition is greater, economic development is also progressing at a faster pace”, he added. “In the region’s countries, thanks to competition, economic growth is faster that in Western Europe”, he stated.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)