Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban (L) and Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk (R) in Warsaw on Monday. Photo: PAP/Rafal Guz
“We support this initiative,” Orban affirmed at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk.
Orban said the plan would be “a major subject for discussion” at the next meeting of the Visegrad Group, the alliance of Central European EU member states Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, also known as the V4.
Tusk first raised the idea of an energy union in late March, as the Ukrainian-Russian crisis unfolded, and he has repeatedly referred to the “gas blackmail” that springs from Russia's gas monopoly.
“Every proposal aimed at overcoming the energy monopoly can count on our support,” Orban said on Monday.
“We are talking about diversification of sources, diversification of delivery directions, diversification of energy carriers, so that no monopolist, whether Russian or any other, can impose unfavourable prices, because the competitive European economy is at stake here,” Tusk underlined.
Tusk wants the EU to negotiate gas prices with Russia or other countries as a single block, believing that this will result in more favourable prices.
The Polish prime minister has said that the plan is not “anti-Russian”, and he claimed that Poland is not against Russian cooperation in the expansion of Hungary's Paks nuclear plant.
A deal concerning Paks was signed in January this year, prior to the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, and Russian state company Rosatom set to carry out the expansion.
“Our attitude here is neutral,” Tusk said.
“It is not a comfortable situation in today’s context, but after all we, too, are large-scale importers of Russian gas, we also cooperate with Russia in terms of energy,” the PM explained.
Poland is currently engaged in a wide-ranging bid to diversity its energy sources, taking in the exploitation of shale gas resources, imports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and plans to create a nuclear power station, with the first block scheduled to be operational by 2024. (nh)