Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, has welcomed that Serbia’s governing coalition remained in office after the elections.
“It is an even better news that the new Serbian government counts on the participation of Vojvodina Hungarians in the coalition’s future work,” Szijjártó told Hungarian public media during his visit to Belgrade on Thursday.
The Serbian parliament on Wednesday endorsed the country’s new government composed of five parties including the ethnic Hungarian Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ).
VMSZ’s participation in the government is a guarantee that the opinion of Vojvodina Hungarians will continue to matter when it comes to the future of Serbia and ensures an excellent opportunity for close future cooperation between Hungary and Serbia in the areas of economy, trade, energy and prevention of illegal migration, Szijjártó said.
During his talks in Belgrade, Szijjártó underlined the importance of close cooperation in anti-migration efforts with a view to the fact that “as a consequence of Brussels’ ill-designed migration policy the western Balkans continues to face an increasing pressure posed by migration”. Szijjártó called on Brussels to change its migration policy and disallow illegal migration which is also in Hungary’s interests in order to protect its southern borders.
As regards EU affairs, Szijjártó stated the Hungarian government’s steady support for Serbia’s integration endeavours. “Belgrade is ready to open six chapters in accession talks, and Brussels must open them,” Szijjártó said, expressing regret over “the slowness of the EU” in the western Balkans’ accession process.
In terms of bilateral relations, Szijjártó noted the Hungarian government’s 9 billion forint (EUR 24.4m) support to nine Hungarian companies’ investments in Serbia in fruit processing, steel structure construction, drug packaging and logistics. He further noted ongoing bilateral infrastructure investment projects that include the upgrade and extension of the Szeged-Szabadka (Subotica) rail line planned to be completed by 2022 spring. As regards energy cooperation, Szijjártó welcomed progress made by the Serbian side in the construction of the interconnector that would allow Hungary to receive some six billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from the south as of next November. He called the project highly important from the point of view of Hungary’s energy security.
Featured photo via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page