Sergey Lavrov: EU Could Try Restore Russia’s Trust by Abandoning Attempts to Politicize Trade Cooperation

Russian-Hungarian trade and economic relations do not create any significant obstacles that cannot be overcome through normal working discussions, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in the interview to the Hungarian newspaper ‘Magyar Nemzet‘ on August 23, 2021.   

“Our formula for success has stood the test of time. It is based on healthy pragmatism, respect for each other’s interests and a focus on creative work on both sides. I would note that cooperation between our countries has reached unparalleled levels,” Lavrov stated.

The Minister noted that it is encouraging how despite the obstacles posed by Brussels’ sanctions, Russian and Hungary were not only able to consistently implement the major investments launched but were also able to identify future targets for the joint projects. Lavrov emphasized that Hungary was the first and so far, the only EU country to have authorized the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and to have purchased a significant amount of it. According to the Minister, this allows asserting that Russian-Hungarian economic relations are quite promising, which also proves the favourable dynamics of bilateral trade in goods, as the turnover between January and May 2021 was about 35 per cent higher than in the same period of the previous year.

As for the Nord Stream 2 construction project, Lavrov assured it is purely business and a mutually beneficial one. He expressed absolute confidence that all allegations that the pipeline will increase European dependence on Russian gas supplies are unfounded.

“In our opinion, it is much more appropriate to talk of it as positive interdependence since Russia is also interested in Europeans buying their products and certain energy sources. The Nord Stream 2 will ensure further diversification of the gas supply routes without increasing their current volume. We can guarantee the shortest route for the stable supply of gas to European consumers which will also reduce the ecological footprint of transport,” said the diplomat.

He added that Russia will also continue to abide by its existing agreements regarding Russian gas supplies to Europe, with transit countries continuing to have to “compete for the right to transit instead of dictating their own terms”.

“Consequently, strategically the Nord Stream 2 will strengthen Europe’s energy security for many decades to come. That is why the European countries interested in the project are clearly in favour of building the pipeline,” Lavrov said.

However, the Minister stated that Russia’s confidence in several of its European energy partners has been seriously shaken. For example, in May 2019, the EU amended the so-called Gas Directive of the Third Energy Package specifically for Nord Stream 2. The amendments were adopted retroactively once the basic investments had been made, which caused a serious blow to the rights of bona fide investors.

“It will take time to restore trust. The EU could take the first constructive step by abandoning its attempts to politicize trade and economic cooperation with Russia,” Lavrov suggested.

He concluded that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will anyway continue to make a significant contribution to maintaining global stability by pursuing a responsible, pragmatic, and predictable foreign policy aimed at neutralizing general security threats and challenges and creating favourable conditions for the peaceful development of all countries.

Ru-Main, 25.08.2021 

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