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FM Szijjártó: Serbia ‘Should Have Joined EU Yesterday’

MTI-Hungary Today 2022.04.06.

Serbia “should have been admitted into the European Union yesterday,” but the bloc can still make things right “if the country joins tomorrow,” Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Szeged, in southern Hungary, on Wednesday.

At a joint press conference with Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković, Szijjártó praised the “excellent relations” between Hungary and Serbia, emphasizing the efforts that had gone into “turning historic spite [between the countries] into a historic friendship,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Both countries have benefitted immensely from this, Szijjártó said, adding that the outcomes of this past weekend’s elections in Hungary and Serbia allowed the countries to continue working together.

Szijjártó said bilateral trade turnover more than doubled in January. Construction on the Budapest-Belgrade rail line is ongoing, the upgrade of the Szeged-Subotica (Szabadka) rail line is set to be completed by the end of the year, and two Hungarian investment projects in Serbia worth a combined 4 billion forints (EUR 10.7m) are also nearing completion, he said. Szijjártó also emphasized Serbia’s role in Hungary’s energy supply.

Election 2022: Foreign Minister Welcomes Vucic Win in Serbia
Election 2022: Foreign Minister Welcomes Vucic Win in Serbia

"We have worked a lot on turning historic spite [between the countries] into a historic friendship," Szijjártó said.Continue reading

On another subject, Szijjártó said Hungary’s ruling alliance of Fidesz and the Christian Democrats had won a record number of votes in Sunday’s general election and would have a record number of seats in parliament.

“A week ago everyone was saying that Fidesz would have no chance of winning in Szeged or other major cities,” he said.

He added that support for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had also reached an all-time high in Sunday’s election, noting that the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ) was one of Vucic’s backers and would have a group of its own in the Serbian national assembly.

“These two historic victories clearly prove that it is right to represent national interests,” Szijjártó said.

Asked about Russia seeking payment for gas deliveries in rubles, Szijjártó said that because the EU had no role in bilateral gas supply agreements, “how the contracting parties choose to amend [the agreement] is nobody else’s business.”

“We do not consider the European Commission’s intention for the countries that import Russian natural gas to give a joint response to be necessary,” Szijjártó said.

President Áder Congratulates Vucic on Election Win
President Áder Congratulates Vucic on Election Win

Áder also assured Vucic of Hungary's continued support for Serbia's EU integration and for the country's quickest possible accession.Continue reading

Hungary’s first payment to Russia’s Gazprom will be due in May and the technicalities of a solution are currently being worked out, the minister said. “Hungary’s energy supply is secure and will remain secure,” he added.

As regards the decision to summon the Ukrainian ambassador, Szijjártó said the remarks made by Ukrainian officials on the Hungarian elections were “unacceptable.”

“We understand that they are at war and that the suffering the Ukrainian people are having to endure is terrible,” Szijjártó said. “But this is no reason for them to be talking about the making of a totalitarian regime, for their diplomats to raise the issue of complicity in war crimes, or to express regret over the outcome of the Hungarian election.”

The Hungarian people made their choice in a democratic election and everyone must respect the outcome, Szijjártó said.

He said that although the remarks from Ukrainian officials “crossed all lines,” Hungary will continue taking in and caring for all Ukrainian refugees and will provide all the humanitarian assistance they need.

Featured image: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó receives Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic at his office on November 25, 2021. Photo by Lajos Soós/MTI

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