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Hungary's prime minister defends deal to join Russia in South Stream gas pipeline

Hungary's prime minister defends deal to join Russia in South Stream gas pipeline

A planned deal with Russia to build part of a natural gas pipeline in Hungary does not rule out another similar project anchored by the European Union, Hungary's prime minister said Tuesday.
The Russian-led South Stream pipeline would run under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria before splitting into several branches to Western Europe. The EU's Nabucco project would rely mainly on gas sources in Azerbaijan.
Hungarian officials are expected to sign the South Stream agreement in Moscow on Thursday.
Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's comments Tuesday on his blog were in response to criticism from his coalition partners and the main center-right opposition party, who claim the South Stream project could make the Nabucco plan financially unfeasible and fail to diversify Hungary's gas supplies.
Hungary gets around two-thirds of its annual consumption of 15 million cubic meters of natural gas from Russia.
"Hungary's interest is that both South Stream and Nabucco be built, so we can have the possibility to choose," Gyurcsany wrote in his blog. "The two pipelines do not cancel out each other, they fit beside one another."
The Alliance of Free Democrats, the Socialists' coalition partners, called on Gyurcsany to provide more details about the decision to enter the South Stream project, which so far were known "only to a few people."
"Hungary's gas supply is not exclusively an issue of energy policy, but also an issue of security and geostrategy," said Istvan Szent-Ivanyi, head of the Free Democrats' foreign affairs cabinet. "I am not convinced that these aspects received proper consideration in the prime minister's decision."
Fidesz, the main opposition group, said South Stream would only exacerbate Hungary's dependence on Russian gas and make it financially impossible to construct the Nabucco pipeline.
Fidesz also called for an extraordinary session in parliament this week to discuss the South Stream plan before Hungary signs the deal with Russia.


Updated : 2021-04-16 11:03 GMT+08:00