FM: Developing ties between Hungary and Slovakia a priority

Péter Szjjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary has the longest border and the liveliest trade with Slovakia among its neighboring countries.

The Hungarian government sees developing the ties between Hungary and Slovakia as a priority.

After meeting his Slovak counterpart, Miroslav Wlachovský, in Budapest, Péter Szjjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary has the longest border and the liveliest trade with Slovakia among its neighboring countries. A large group of ethnic Hungarians also live in Slovakia, he added. This year, the number of border crossings between the two countries will grow to 40 from 22 in 2010, he said. Central European countries are facing similar challenges in security, energy supplies and migration, Minister Szijjártó said. Hungary is participating in the joint defence of Slovak air space from July 1, a rotating task among central European countries, he said. “The greater the security of Slovakia, the safer Hungary is, and vice versa,” he said.

Regarding tackling the energy crisis, Hungary and Slovakia are both members of the European nuclear coalition, and have taken a stance against “the discrimination against cheap, safe and sustainable energy production using nuclear energy”, and insisted that member states’ energy mix should remain a national competency, he said. Hungary and Slovakia have also linked their electricity networks, he said. Noting that an exemption from EU sanctions enabling Slovak energy provider Slovnaft to sell Russian crude in Czechia will expire at the end of 2023, Szijjártó said Slovnaft has made “enormous investments to the tune of 100 million euros” to be able to work with resources other than Russian crude. However, the transition will need another year, he said. “We are asking the EU to extend the exemption by another year,” Szijjártó said. Meanwhile, Croatia has raised transit fees for energy resources to four times the market price, Szijjártó said. Since the route is part of an alternative route to direct imports from Russia for the region, the move is a great burden on Hungarian and Slovak energy supplies and makes energy diversification harder, he said. “We think that it is not honourable to turn high profits in times of war, especially if the measures risk the energy security of other countries,” he said.

Regarding migration, Minister Szijjártó said Hungary continued to reject mandatory resettlement quotas proposed by the EU. At the same time, it sees its efforts in border protection as an act of solidarity, he said. “Hungary has spent tens or hundreds of billions of forints on protecting the EU’s external borders, and has received practically no compensation from Brussels,” he said. Slovakia, on the other hand, has sent policemen and border patrol officers to help Hungary’s border protection, he said. Talks on joint patrols against people smugglers and illegal entrants are also underway, he said. Responding to a question from journalists, Szijjártó wished French law enforcement success in restoring law and order in the country, recently shaken by countrywide protests. At the same time, he said the protests had made it clear “that the European dream of the integration of people arriving from other cultures, often illegally and by violent means, has become an illusion,” he said. “That is why we should concentrate on stopping migration rather than inspiring and encouraging it,” he said. On another topic, Szijjártó said Ukraine’s NATO integration was “out of the question” as long as it was at war. “This is something my foreign minister colleagues usually admit at bilateral or closed-door meetings, even though other things are said publicly,” he said.