“Thanks to the agreements concluded with Russia on Thursday, the quantity of gas required for the operation of Hungarian industry and the heating of homes and houses for 2020 is at our disposal, partly physically, and partly according to agreements”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following the signing of the contracts at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“Hungary’s gas supply is assured from the direction of Russia; this is guaranteed by today’s agreements”, the Minister said following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Industry Denis Manturov.

Mr. Szijjártó also held talks with Minister of Energy Aleksander Novak, following which, during the course of the day, he will be meeting with CEO of Gazprom Alekey Miller.

The Minister told the press that two billion cubic metres of natural gas will be arriving in Hungary’s gas storage reservoirs before the end of September. The agreement within the framework of which another two billion cubic metres of gas will be arriving from Russia via Austria next year has also been initialled.

He drew attention to the uncertainty factor relating to the fact that there is still no valid transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine concerning the transport of natural gas. As he explained, for this reason Hungary must assure that the quantity of gas that should in theory be arriving via Ukraine already arrives in Hungarian gas reservoirs this year.

“Cooperation with Russia is extremely important with relation to Hungary’s energy supply and its foreign trade performance”, the Minister said.

“What we are seeing is that the larger Western European countries are dynamically expanding their economic and trade investment cooperation with Russia. We are yet to achieve this rate, but the agreements concluded today represent another step forward with relation to Hungary’s energy supply and increasing Hungary’s foreign trade performance”, the Minister stated.

He said that from now on he will be holding negotiations on the gas supply for the period following 2021.

Mr. Szijjártó said it was good news that Russian oil shipments to Hungary have again commenced and that the Hungarian and Russian companies have been able to resolve the quality-related problems that led to the suspension of oil shipments.

He praised the fact that the Hungarian pharmaceuticals industry is increasing its presence in Russia in view of the fact that Richter, which has already invested over 100 million euros in  the Russian market, will be manufacturing its product Cariprazine in Russia. The drug, which will be marketed under the brand name Reagila, has already been registered, and negotiations are currently ongoing on it being included on the list of state-subsidised pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Szijjártó announced that a direct air passenger service between Budapest and Kazan will be launched before the end of this year. He said he had concluded a business agreement with Samara County, which is one of Russia’s leading automotive industry regions.

According to the Minister, the text of the agreement on social security cooperation between the two countries has also been finalised, meaning it can soon be signed.

Within the framework of the St. Petersburg Forum, Mr. Szijjártó also met with Serbian Minister of Innovation and Technological Development Nenad Popović and Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar.

In his speech at the panel discussion on the relationship between the EU and Russia organised by the Valdai Discussion Club, the Minister labelled the work of the outgoing European Commission as “extremely weak” in view of the fact that during its mandate, amongst others, the competitiveness of the European Union has fallen, and the EU has not succeeded in stopping illegal immigration or keeping Great Britain within the integration.

He pointed out that the status quo has ceased as a result of the European Parliament (EP) elections, because the European People’s Party and the socialists are now incapable of forming a majority by entering into a coalition. He drew attention to the fact that the highest levels of support at the elections were received by four anti-immigration parties: Fidesz (52%), the Polish Law and Justice party (45%), the Austrian People’s Party (38%) and Italy’s Northern League (30%).

Mr. Szijjártó took a position in opposition to the EU’s development towards a United States of Europe, arguing in favour of a Europe of member states with strong identities. He called for the dropping of the “socialist-style” proposals put forward in several of the larger Western European member states, including those concerning tax harmonisation and the distribution of the effects of irresponsible financial policies. “The EU can only be competitive if the economies of its member states are also competitive”, he stressed.

The Minister called the economic sanctions introduced against Russia unsuccessful, because they haven’t achieved their goal: they have not shaken the Russian economy and have not forced Russia to implement the Minsk Protocol.

Mr. Szijjártó called for the thorough and comprehensive analysis of the economic sanctions that have caused damage to Hungary via the termination of 8 billion dollars’ worth of export opportunities. He pointed out that Hungary has always been a loser of conflicts between East and West, and accordingly it is in its fundamental interests to develop cooperation.