Photo: © REUTERS/ Laszlo Balogh
Hungary has left behind other Eastern Europe states, pledging its support to the Turkish Stream project launched by Russia.
Ekaterina Blinova — While Eastern Europe countries have continued urging Brussels to revive the South Stream project, Hungary has left them behind, taking the opportunity to develop the Turkish Stream in close cooperation with Russia.
As Russia, forced to withdraw from its long-anticipated South Stream, announced its new Turkish Stream initiative, Hungary took the opportunity of strengthening energy ties with Moscow.
During his last visit to Budapest, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a number of important agreements in the energy sphere with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Experts stressed that the meeting took place amid growing tensions between the West and Russia, aggravated by the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine. It should be mentioned that Russia is Hungary's largest trade partner, supplying the state with almost 80 percent of its oil and 70 percent of its natural gas. Facing strong criticism from Brussels and the EU's member states for his close cooperation with Russia, Viktor Orban, however, welcomed a chance to give his support to the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline.
The Hungarian government vowed to become Russia's key partner in the new project that aims to deliver natural gas to Europe circumventing Ukraine. Furthermore, Hungary's Prime Minister never missed an opportunity to criticize the EU for its unproductive sanctions policy. Regardless of the EU's stance, the leaders of Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria consider Russia as a viable alternative to the West, however, they are still hesitating to join the new energy project launched by Moscow, experts noted. In this light Budapest appears to be an absolute leader among the Eastern Europe states.
According to the Kremlin, Russia will be guided by considerations of logistics, seeking more profitable ways of delivering its resources to European states while implementing the Turkish Stream project. A section of the Stream passing Turkey will be expanded to Hungary, and can go to Serbia, Austria and other European countries that will demonstrate their interest in cooperation.