The discussion focused on the further development of bilateral cooperation in trade, economic, energy, cultural and humanitarian areas as well as current European security issues.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, dear Viktor, I am very happy to see you!
We have not seen each other since 2019 due to certain events that do not allow us to communicate normally even now. However, a direct meeting, a direct dialogue is much better than a telephone conversation.
I would like to mention some things I consider important.
First, despite the restrictions, and we are even trying to counter COVID-19 together, we have supplied you with over 2 million doses of the vaccine; we have registered our Sputnik Light in your country, and now we are studying the issue of transferring technology and production to Hungarian territory. Despite the restrictions we still managed to increase trade by 30 percent last year, in the first 11 months of last year. This is a good sign, a good signal of economic recovery.
We continue large projects, such as Paks – two new units, the construction of a nuclear power plant. In general, energy is a big part of our cooperation: 55 percent of oil and 80 percent of natural gas consumed by Hungary come from Russia. Everything in this area is working smoothly.
We are also making headway in engineering. We have a good joint contract to build carriages for Egypt.
I believe that in general the situation is developing well in this area.
Last year, Gazprom signed two long-term contracts for the supply of natural gas from Russia to Hungary through to 2036. So, the stability of these supplies is guaranteed.
And, of course, it is very important for me to exchange views with you on the current situation with European security. As you know, we sent our proposals to NATO and the United States on signing the relevant written mutual commitments in this area, and I will be glad to tell you how this process is developing.
I am very happy to see you.
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban (retranslated): I am very happy that we can meet with each other. I always consider a personal meeting with you a great honour for me.
We first met 13 years ago, so this happens to be our 12th meeting. This is very rare. Most of my colleagues in leadership positions in the EU countries since that time no longer hold their positions. So it happens that you and I have accumulated the most significant memories about the common past of Russia and the European Union over these 13 years.
Frankly, I am not planning to quit. Our elections are scheduled for April.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I know.
Viktor Orban: I am running again and hope to win. So I have the reasonable assumption that we will cooperate with you for many years to come.
We are indeed going through hard times, but 2021 has probably been the most successful for relations between our countries over this period. There have been two major challenges, and Russia helped us with both. The first challenge was linked with vaccines and the second one with energy.
We are grateful to you that our cooperation allowed us to inoculate 900,000 Hungarian citizens with your vaccine. Thank you from my heart for this.
Considering that Europe is going through an energy or rather a gas crisis now, it was very important to sign the afore-mentioned long-term contracts. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to sign them. During this meeting, I would like to come to terms on increasing volumes.
As for security, this is probably the most worrying issue because my current visit is partly a mission of peace, and I would like to assure everyone that none of the EU leaders or members want a war. We favour a political solution under beneficial agreements.
The Paks project is making great headway. Hungary’s investments, made in part with the approval of the Russian leadership, have been a success. We are grateful to you for this. In addition, I have brought several more proposals on further building up cooperation in this area.
This is a difficult time, but we are spending it in good company.
Vladimir Putin: I agree. (Laughter.)
I must say that these agreements through to 2036, signed last year, are primarily a result of your work. In this sense it was important not only to ensure stable supplies through to 2036, but it is also important that now Hungary is buying Russian gas at a rate five times cheaper than the market price in Europe.
As we usually say when our partners are having elections, we will work with any elected leader. But I must note that you have done much in your work on the Russian track in both the interests of Hungary and Russia. I hope our cooperation will continue.