“The U.S. Secretary of State’s visit to Budapest indicates that the political pillar of Hungarian-American relations is being reconstructed”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Hungarian M1 television’s Tuesday morning current affairs program.

“The Democratic admiration neglected the Central European region, and Hungarian -American relations were only kept alive by the defence cooperation pillar”, Mr. Szijjártó declared. As he explained, one of the main topics during his negotiations with Mike Pompeo was the defence cooperation between the two countries, as set down by the agreement concluded in 1997, which has since become obsolete. They agreed that the treaty must be renewed.

“The text of the document, which amongst others determines the legal framework for the presence of American soldiers in Hungary, was finalised last week following 18 months of talks, and can now be put before Parliament’s National Security Committee”, the Minister added. “Advanced negotiations are also ongoing on the procurement of a medium-range air defence system. This would contribute to reinforcing Hungary’s security”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The Minister also spoke about the fact that he had asked Mike Pompeo for understanding with relation to Ukraine, declaring that Hungary is not prepared to sacrifice the fate of Transcarpathian Hungarians on the altar of any kind of geopolitical manoeuvring. Mr. Szijjártó said that during the talks he had drawn his American negotiating partner’s attention to the fact that Hungary is practicing Ukraine-friendly politics, since it supported Ukraine’s association agreement and is also shipping natural gas to Ukraine. “Meanwhile, the Ukrainian administration is representing an anti-Hungarian attitude”, he declared.

Energy-related issues were also mentioned at the negotiations, he continued, with relation to which he stressed: “Hungary has already done all of its ‘homework’ to provide opportunities for the purchasing of natural gas from sources other than Russia. Meaning the infrastructure and legal requirements for this are all available”. With relation to this, Mr. Szijjártó asked Mike Pompeo to take action to ensure that ExxonMobil begins the extraction of natural gas from the Romanian gas fields. “This would open an opportunity for Hungary to purchase 4 million cubic metres of natural gas each year, which is almost half of its annual consumption”, he explained.

There also exists an opportunity to import gas from the Croatian liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, but according to Mr. Szijjártó the problem with this is that the Croatian party has given a quotation for the shipment of gas that is fifty percent higher than if the natural gas were to arrive from Rotterdam, which is much further away. “This is clearly an offer that is incapable of being economically competitive”, the Minister said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)