Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Friday emphasised the importance of cooperation between Hungary’s Hajdú-Bihar and Romania’s Bihar (Bihor) counties and of ethnic Hungarians voting in Romania’s local elections.
Speaking to the media after talks with the leaders of the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party’s Bihar County chapter in Nagyvárad (Oradea), Szijjártó said the newly inaugurated motorway links between Budapest and Nagyvárad as well as Debrecen and Nagyvárad would open the door to new development opportunities.
“One important goal is to create electrified rail links between Debrecen and Nagyvárad as soon as possible,” the minister said. “The feasibility study for this project has already been completed in Debrecen. We’re prepared to support it with government funding and will propose to the Romanian government that we also make use of the funds offered by the European Union.”
Concerning the novel coronavirus pandemic, Szijjártó said the reason why Hungary has closed its borders to foreigners was so that it could avoid having to impose internal restrictions again to contain the virus. Out of Hungary’s seven neighbouring countries Romania is the only one with which Hungary has kept all its operational border crossings open, he said.
“It was at the request of RMDSZ that we decided to keep every one of these border crossings open,” Szijjártó said. “In fact, given the current situation it’s exceptional that the number of open border crossings between the two countries has increased by one rather than decreased,” he said, noting that Hungary and Romania have opened the twelfth crossing point on their border.
As regards an agreement signed between the Hungarian government and RMDSZ’s Nagyvárad chapter, Szijjártó said the next round of Hungary’s economic development scheme aimed at helping ethnic Hungarian communities in Transylvania will focus on north-western Romania. The government has so far disbursed some 70 billion forints (EUR 195.1m) among 6,000 applicants, generating 130 billion forints’ worth of investments, he said.
Szijjártó said he had agreed with Senator Attila Cseke, head of the Bihar County chapter of RMDSZ, that Hungary will provide financial support to local Hungarians and the Reformed Church in Oradea to help them purchase school buildings and build dormitories for Hungarian students.
The minister also asked ethnic Hungarians living in Nagvárad and Bihar County to take part in Romania’s local elections, saying the election would also impact their lives and future.
“It would be nice if the proportion of the local Hungarian population and their share in political representation were brought into balance,” Szijjártó said. “It’s important for us Hungarians to be united. It’s important that we support the biggest Hungarian political organisation with the best chance of winning in the election, since it’s our only chance for stronger representation here in Nagyvárad, Bihar County and all of Romania.”
Szijjártó on Friday also received an award from RMDSZ for his efforts in helping ethnic Hungarians in Romania.
Szijjártó opens second Hungary-Romania motorway crossing
The foreign ministers of Hungary and Romania on Friday inaugurated the second motorway border crossing between the two countries.
Hungary’s Péter Szijjártó said that the new link was a “shared success”, a basis for building “trust and mutual respect” between the two sides of the border. “On this basis even hard (bilateral) issues could be resolved and closed,” he added.
The new section between Nagykereki and Bors (in Romania) links Hungary’s M4 and Romania’s A3 motorways.
The new border crossing is the twelfth between the two countries, Szijjártó noted. Quality infrastructure is key in fostering neighbourly relations, he said.
The third motorway crossing between Romania and Hungary is planned to open in 2024, between Csenger and Szatmárnémeti (Satu Mare), he said.
Szijjártó noted that Romania is Hungary’s ninth largest trading partner and fourth largest export market. Infrastructure developments will also benefit Hungarians living in Romania, he said.
A high-capacity natural gas interconnector is planned to start operation next year, and high-voltage electric cables will also be connected in the near future, he said.
Romanian Transport Minister Lucian Bode said infrastructure development was a point of focus for the Romanian government.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu welcomed “positive events” such as the inauguration in bilateral relations. Aurescu and Szijjarto in May agreed to set up a business chamber and to convene a meeting of the mixed economic committee in the autumn, Aurescu said.
He welcomed Hungary’s decision to allow Romanians to travel across Hungary despite the otherwise stringent coronavirus-related restrictions. People commuting to work across the border may travel too, he added.
In the featured photo (from left to right) RMDSZ Senator Attila Cseke and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szjjártó. Photo by Mátyás Borsos/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade