“The United States is putting pressure on Hungary because of the South Stream gas pipeline and the planned expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Munich on Thursday in reply to questions from the audience following his speech at the headquarters of the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation.

DownloadPhoto: Marc Müller/MTI/DPAIn reply to questions on relations between Hungary and the United States, and Russia, the Prime Minister said that both the pipeline and the power plant expansion were economic issues, which had found themselves in a geopolitical, military and security policy environment as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

Washington interprets both issues as “making overtures to Russia”, when in fact “we don’t want to move closer to anyone, just as we don’t wish to move further away from anyone” and the politics we are practicing is not “Russia-friendly”, but “Hungarian-friendly”, he added.

The South Stream gas pipeline is the “twin” of the North Stream pipeline that provides Germany with Russian gas while bypassing Ukraine, and its construction serves the interests of the people of Hungary in view of the fact that it would provide a secure supply of gas that avoids the risks associated with the situation in Ukraine, and which although perhaps not diversifying sources at least diversifies transport routes, he explained.

On the subject of the Paks expansion, Prime Minister Orbán stressed that cheap energy is of key importance to improving competitiveness and that unlike Germany, Hungary in unable to mobilise huge amounts of funding to facilitate energy production from renewable energy sources, while it has no energy sources of its own.

The only tool with which to reduce dependence on external energy sources is the expansion of the state-owned nuclear power plant, which currently operates using Russian technology, and accordingly the only rational approach is to also perform the expansion with Russian cooperation, he added.

With regard to the crisis in Ukraine, Mr. Orbán stressed that the West is absolutely right to take a tough stance, because the infringement of international law in unacceptable.

However, we are also “hit by” the economic sanctions, and without suitable policies both Central Europe and Germany could suffer serious economic consequences in the upcoming years as a result of these punitive measures, he added.

Some form of compensation must be developed for those countries who are loyal to the policy of sanctions, but who suffer from its consequences, the Prime Minister said, adding that a diplomatic solution to the crisis was required and “meaningful negotiations” should begin as soon as possible. However, neither Central Europe nor Germany can be “disloyal” to its own system of allies, and for the moment both the EU and NATO seem willing only to employ a policy of sanctions, he continued.

Prime Minister Orbán stressed that Hungary has an interest in a democratic and self-sufficient Ukraine that exists “in the space between the Russians and the Hungarians”.

At the same time, Ukraine will require some 25 billion euros-a-year in aid during the upcoming period, which will have to be paid for by someone, and there is a fear that EU development funding paid to Central European countries will be reduced in the interests of helping Ukraine, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister's presentation is available in English and German.

(Prime Minister's Office)