Starting on Monday morning, citizens of Hungary and Serbia will be allowed to travel between the two countries without undergoing a mandatory quarantine upon entry, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Röszke, in southern Hungary.
Reopening the borders will enable families and communities to reconnect, Szijjártó told a press conference after talks with Jadranka Joksimovic, the Serbian minister for European integration, and István Pásztor, head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ).
Economic ties will also gain new momentum, the minister added.
Thanks to timely and strict restrictions, central European countries have managed to control the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Szijjártó said. Reducing passenger traffic across borders was one of those measures, he said.
Those results make it possible for Hungary and Serbia to return to normality while prioritising the protection of life and health, the Foreign Minister said.
Regarding Hungary’s economic development programme in Serbia’s Vojvodina region, Szijjártó noted that Hungary had ploughed 6 billion forints (EUR 17.1m) into supporting medium-sized and large projects in the region.
Large companies such as Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and OTP Bank are playing a significant role in restarting both countries’ economies, Szijjártó said.
“Serbia’s place is in the European Union,” Szijjártó said. The bloc would “score a big win” with its accession, he said.
Szijjártó said, however, that the border would be open “only to those respecting the laws”. Hungary will continue to do everything in its power to prevent illegal entry into the country, he said.
The minister thanked VMSZ head István Pásztor for his work in representing the interests of ethnic Hungarians. Szijjarto lauded Pasztor’s efforts to ensure that commuters and students ahead of their school-leaving exams had been allowed to enter Hungary.
Joksimovic told the same press conference that opening the borders were of great importance for people in both countries.
She noted that Serbia on Friday lifted coronavirus-related restrictions for travellers entering the country. Until then, they had to undergo a mandatory quarantine or present proof of a negative coronavirus test, she said.
The next step is restarting the economy, she said. Hungarian companies play an important role in Serbia, she said, adding that hopefully Serbian companies would soon gain a foothold in Hungary.
Serbia appreciates Hungary’s support of its European integration process, Joksimovic said. Serbia hopes to open a new chapter as early as June, she added.