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Szijjártó: Hungary and Serbia preparing for new oil pipeline construction

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olajvezeték / oil pipeline
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Olvasási idő: 5 perc

Hungary and Serbia are preparing for the construction of a new oil pipeline in order to strengthen energy security. Negotiations are underway for the investment, which is expected to be signed in June, according to a statement by Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, after talks with Serbia’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Dubravka Đedović in Budapest. Both ministers confirmed that a joint session of the two governments will take place in June, where further contracts will be signed.

Serbia should develop, Europe should pay!

During the press conference held on Thursday, Szijjártó highlighted that there will be 60 billion cubic meters less of Russian gas available on the European market than last year, due to the increased demand resulting from the reopening of the Chinese economy, and LNG capacities have not yet been built to replace the lost quantity.

-We, Hungarians, still consider energy security as a physical rather than ideological issue, and therefore we will certainly not give up well-functioning, established, reliable sources

emphasized the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who highlighted that “strategic energy cooperation between the two countries is one guarantee that Hungary’s supply will remain secure in the coming period.”

Szijjártó reported that Hungary receives 9-15 million cubic meters of gas per day from Serbia, which is considered a reliable transit country, via the TurkStream pipeline, and the neighboring country could also be one of the possible routes for quantities to be purchased from Azerbaijan. 

Therefore, Hungary is interested in the development of Serbia’s internal network, considers it a European issue, and expects the European Union to finance all infrastructure developments in the region that enable Central Europe’s access to alternative sources. 

The Hungarian minister also announced that a framework agreement had been reached for Hungary to store 500 million cubic meters of gas for Serbia in domestic storage facilities this year.

A joint venture and a new oil pipeline

Szijjártó also stated that MVM and Srbijagas would soon establish a joint venture that engages in common natural gas trading activities, thereby strengthening the two countries’ presence in the Central European energy market.

The minister subsequently announced that Hungary and Serbia are preparing to build a new oil pipeline between Algyő and Novi Sad, which will contribute to the improvement of the energy security of both states. As he stated, talks about the investment are ongoing between Mol and Transnafta.

According to Szijjártó, the agreement on this matter can be signed at the Serbian- Hungarian government summit planned for June.

The Hungarian minister welcomed the progress in the construction of the new cross-border electricity transmission line, which will result in a doubling of transport capacity and is expected to be completed by 2028. The next task is to designate the cross-border point. 

– This will strengthen our independence from the sometimes completely insane changes in the international electricity market”

– said Szijjártó, who believes that Serbian- Hungarian energy cooperation provides great security for both parties. He added that “this is one of the most successful areas of Serbian- Hungarian strategic partnership, which has clearly yielded many important results so far.”

Serbia is going green with energy

On April 5, Serbia’s largest solar power plant, with a capacity of 9.9 megawatts, was commissioned near Lapovo.

The power plant, which covers 12.5 hectares, has an annual capacity of 15,000 megawatt-hours, which is enough to power around 2,100 households. 

The “DeLsol” power plant, built by Mt- Komex, was opened by Dubravka Đedović, who called it a state task to create the conditions for the construction of power plants operating on renewable energy sources.

Đedović recently stated that Serbia aims to achieve carbon neutrality for its economy by 2050.

Serbian Minister of Mining and Energy held talks with József Magyar, Hungary’s ambassador to Serbia at the end of March on the energy cooperation between the two countries, particularly focusing on increasing gas and electricity supply security. 

Azeri gas from a Russian pipe

After the meeting, Dubravka Đedović, the Serbian Minister of Energy, naturally also spoke, beginning with the “respect” due to the excellent partnership between Serbia and Hungary, thanks to the personal relationship between the Serbian president and the Hungarian prime minister.

The Serbian Energy Minister noted that they would like to make the cooperation more concrete, especially in the areas of natural gas and oil, but also in the field of electricity supply.

Mild winter and surplus electricity

– Since the beginning of the year, the Serbian power industry has been ready to export 500-1000 megawatts of electricity at any moment.

– said Miroslav Tomašević, acting director of EPS, adding that electricity production in Serbia was 17 percent higher in the first three months of this year than in the same period last year.

Tomašević added that his company earned four million euros in electricity sales in the first four days of April, and the Serbian power industry could become the region’s leading electricity exporter.

Đedović said they are exploring the possibility of Serbia and Hungary obtaining additional gas from alternative sources via the Balkan (Turkish) Stream, for which this route would be suitable. 

The Serbian Minister also mentioned that Serbia is making good progress on the Serbian- Bulgarian interconnector, with 40 percent of the work already completed on Serbian territory.

The Belgrade official added that the work should be completed by the end of October, and negotiations with Azerbaijan on procuring Azeri gas are already underway since the work seems to be progressing well on the Bulgarian side as well.

Đedović also spoke about how important Hungary is as a partner for Serbia in the field of electricity supply, with electricity trade between the two countries valued at €77 million in 2022.

The meeting also discussed Hungary’s participation in a regional electricity exchange, which currently operates between Serbia and Slovenia, allowing for daily electricity trading.

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Turkish companies bypass the Western sanctions, USA tappes their head

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a megjelenés dátuma

szankciók / / western sanctions for Turkish-Russian cooperation
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Olvasási idő: 5 perc

In mid-September, the United States imposed sanctions on five Turkish companies for their trade activities with Russia, alleging that they are selling sanctioned products to Russians, thereby aiding in circumventing Western measures imposed due to the conflict in Ukraine. The sanctioning of Turkish companies comes at a sensitive time, as Ankara has not yet said yes to Sweden’s NATO accession. Turkey’s role as a balancing act has gained significance for both the East and the West in light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that escalated in February last year. 

Putin’s favorite Western politician

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has managed to find a modus vivendi with Russia since 2016, despite tensions and conflicting interests. They have built a pragmatic partnership in various areas, including defense procurement (e.g., the S-400 air defense missile system), energy cooperation (natural gas deliveries and nuclear power), and regular geopolitical consultations, such as within the Astana process for Syria.

Turkey accomplishes all of this while being part of the Western alliance system, having been a NATO member since 1952 and an EU candidate since 1999. However, since 2016, Turkey has also developed good relations with Ukraine, particularly in the defense industry.

Notably, among Western leaders—assuming we can consider Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as one—Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, often meets with his Turkish counterpart. Their most recent meeting took place in Sochi in early September, where they engaged in a three-hour discussion.

However, they did not reach an agreement on the main topic of the meeting. Erdoğan failed to persuade Russia to return to the Black Sea grain transit initiative introduced last summer, which Russia has refused to renew since July. This refusal has not only raised global food prices but also affected Turkey, as approximately ten percent of the grain shipped from Ukrainian ports in the past year ended up in the small Asian country.

Nevertheless, both leaders value their cooperation. Putin allowed the rescheduling of Turkish gas payments during the May elections, reportedly granting immediate relief of around $4 billion. In turn, Erdoğan was among the first to seek Putin’s support during the summer Prigozhin uprising.

Western sanctions due to growing cooperation

Apart from geopolitical ties, Turkey has become economically significant for Russia due to Western sanctions. With limited countries left from which Russia can acquire or access Western technology, the importance of Turkey has risen.

As it became clear that last year’s Ukrainian offensive led not to a quick victory but to a prolonged conflict, surrounded by Western sanctions, both countries turned to strengthen their economic ties. Turkey did not join retaliatory measures against Russia.

In May 2022, Russia increased the quota for Turkish trucks from 8,000 to 20,000 annually, and transit shipments from 6,000 to 35,000. The number of Russian freight vehicles also saw a significant surge.

In terms of statistics, Turkish exports increased significantly. It reached $9.34 billion last year, up from $5.8 billion in 2021. This growth appears to continue in 2023, with Turkey exporting $4.9 billion in the first six months of the year, compared to $2.6 billion during the same period the previous year.

Between 2022 and 2023 March, the export of electronic goods increased by 85 percent.

In 2022, more than 1,300 Russian-Turkish companies were established, compared to fewer than 200 the previous year. It’s also worth noting that after the war began, Russian oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich, sought refuge on Turkish shores, while in Europe, they took the floating castles from the other Russian billionaires one after the other.



Russian oligarchs compete with Arab sheikhs in the length (Source: X-platform)

As a result, thousands of properties ended up in Russian hands, mainly in Istanbul and the Antalya region, further inflating the local real estate market.

On the other hand, imports have significantly increased, reaching $58.85 billion, double the previous year’s figure. The import of hydrocarbons has notably increased, partly due to rising prices, and some suspect that Turkish companies may re-export Russian oil, among other things.

Western criticism

Turkey’s role has also garnered criticism from its Western allies. In June of last year, Wally Adeyemo, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, visited Turkey to express the U.S. government’s disapproval.


An American politician of African descent is unlikely to be popular in Turkey. In August last year, Adeyemo warned that some Turkish companies could also be subject to US sanctions if they do business with sanctioned Russian individuals. (Source: X-platform, Millî Gazete)

Under American pressure, Turkish banks eventually abandoned the acceptance of the Russian MIR system in September of last year. Under international pressure, Ankara also pledged not to allow the transit of sanctioned products to Russia, which somewhat complicated the situation for Russian companies but did not result in Turkey joining the sanctions.

Bypassing the regulations is not impossible; the process still involves Turkish imports of products before re-exporting them to Russia, incurring additional costs but also generating extra tax revenue for the Turkish budget. Exports, however, continue to grow, and in April, the United States added more Turkish companies to its sanctions list, with another five added on September 14.

Nevertheless, while the statistics reflect a thriving Turkish-Russian trade, and we can be sure that some benefit greatly from the evasion of sanctions on both sides, it is important to note that the costs are ultimately borne by entire societies.

The war initially increased geopolitical risks for Turkey, making the Turkish lira even more vulnerable in a situation that was already unfavorable, resulting in a steep decline in 2022 (although problems had begun earlier).

The disruption of grain shipments in the early months of the war led to food inflation, and panic buying occurred in Turkey during the initial weeks. The halt of Ukrainian shipments this year adds to the ongoing inflation.

Finally, the record-breaking imports from Russia basically stem from the increase in the price of energy carriers: the Turks also had to pay the bill, similarly to other European countries that buy Russian gas.

In conclusion, Turkey is striving to adapt to the current situation and benefit from it, given its limited room for influence, despite numerous mediation attempts. However, the nation can afford to balance between the two blocs due to its strategic position.

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