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Foreign Minister: Hungarian-Serbian Relations Stronger Than Before

Tamás Székely 2015.01.15.

The significance of Hungarian-Serbian relations is higher than before thanks to the geopolitical situation affecting both countries and the cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline, the foreign minister said. Péter Szijjártó said after meeting Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic in Belgrade that the issue of energy security in central Europe is again timely and a more burning one. The minister said he had agreed with Dacic to jointly seek a solution on ways to increase energy security. Dacic will visit Budapest in February for further talks on this issue, he added.

The regular meetings between the two countries’ foreign ministers is one sign that relations between Hungary and Serbia have never been as good as they are at present, Szijjártó said. Hungary continues to be committed to supporting Serbian European integration efforts, and for this reason Budapest is delegating Gábor Iván, a former permanent representative in Brussels, as its chief negotiator concerning Serbia’s EU accession, the minister added.

On the occasion of Szijjártó’s visit to Belgrade an agreement also has been signed by officials from Hungary, Serbia and China to pave the way for preparations for the modernisation of the rail line between Budapest and Belgrade. The agreement clears the way for the preparation of the feasibility study, the inter-government agreement and the financing model for the project. The document was signed by Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, Serbian Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic and the deputy head of China’s National Development and Reform Committee Xu Xianping.

The rail line will serve to transport Chinese goods headed for markets in Europe. “One of the most important routes of global trade will pass through Hungary and Serbia,” Péter Szijjártó said. Mihajlovic said the final feasibility studies could be completed by the  end of June, allowing work to start by year-end. The Chinese partner in the 3-billion dollar project is offering to finance 85% of the cost. The modernisation of the line will cut the travel time between Budapest and Belgrade from eight hours at present to under three hours.

Speaking about various issues, including US-Hungary relations, Péter Szijjártó also gave a TV interview on Wednesday. The foreign minister told news channel HírTV that problematic issues dogging Hungarian-US political relations could only be resolved through a mutual effort.  Fighting against corruption must involve the resolution of concrete cases rather than a general onslaught, he said. This is why the Hungarian government’s request for evidence is legitimate, Szijjártó insisted, adding that no such information or documents have been handed over.

However, the minister stressed that economic relations between the two sides has always been problem-free: US companies employ 90,000 Hungarians and  three new US investments are set to launch in Hungary in a combined value of 15.5 million dollars, creating 510 jobs.

via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu photo: Márton Kovács – Foreign Ministry / MTI