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Orbán Meets with Balkan Leaders in Budapest

By Tom Szigeti // 2017.11.30.

This week, the leaders of 16 European countries have been in Budapest for the Central Eastern European Countries-China Summit (CEEC-China). In addition to attending the summit and meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán also met with the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (right) with Andrej Plenkovic, Prime Minister of Croatia (Photo: MTI/PMO Press Office – Károly Árvai)

Meeting with Croatian PM

Hungary is ready to strike a “fair deal” to end the “poisonous dispute” surrounding Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and Croatian energy company INA, with a view to reigniting traditionally good Hungarian-Croatian relations, Orbán said after talks with his Croatian counterpart.

After speaking with Andrej Plenković, the Prime Minister said that Hungary wants to put this problem behind it as soon as possible, and it would be fair for INA to be returned to the Croatians

He said the Hungarian government regarded the case as a business rather than a government issue. At the same time, it supports a quick resolution, and if the Croatian government does not want MOL in Croatia in the future, then Hungary is ready to make a fair deal and return INA shares in its possession.

Orbán warned, however, that the agreement must be “fair”. “I wish to make it as swift as possible, and then to restore relations at all levels,” he added.

Orbán said he and Plenković reviewed their bilateral ties and determined that there had also been positive developments in recent years, mainly in terms of economic cooperation. “The numbers are promising,” Orbán said. “Trade is expanding and more and more Hungarians are visiting Croatia.”

Orbán said political relations between the two countries were “excellent”, as was their historical relationship. “And we don’t want to poison this relationship with an issue like the dispute surrounding MOL and INA,” he added.

Plenković said the political will was there to end the dispute. But the two countries must also find the right model that is both fair to Hungarian investments that have already been made and values INA’s shares at a realistic price, he added.

The prime minister voiced satisfaction with the bilateral trade volume and noted that some 500,000 Hungarian tourists spent their summer holidays on the Adriatic coast this year.

He said Hungary and Croatia would take steps to maximize cross-border transport opportunities and expand energy cooperation, which includes creating the conditions for reverse gas flows. Plenković also said the two governments would also work together to improve the situation of Croatian and Hungarian minorities in each other’s countries.

He noted Croatia’s aspirations to join the OECD and expressed hope that Hungary would support its candidacy.

Viktor Orbán with Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: MTI/PMO Press Office – Károly Árvai)

NATO Discussions with Bosnia and Herzegovina

Orbán also met with Denis Zvizdić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At this meeting, he voiced Hungary’s support for the activation of NATO’s membership plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The prime minister’s press office said the two leaders noted that bilateral trade had increased by 16% in the first eight months of 2017.

The talks also covered possible road and railway projects with a view to improving links between Budapest and Sarajevo. Concerning Hungary’s mission in Bosnia, Orbán expressed a commitment to upholding its contribution, which currently stands at 208 troops.

Viktor Orbán with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (Photo: MTI/PMO Press Office – Károly Árvai)

Meeting with Macedonian PM

Hungary is a “committed supporter” of Macedonia’s European and NATO integration, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev during talks in Budapest. The prime minister’s press office quoted Orbán as saying that Hungary would continue its police mission along Macedonia’s southern border to help local authorities stem illegal migration till October next year.


Via MTI and Hungary Matters

Images via MTI