Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the European Union cannot be stronger unless it strengthens its external ties, and called for closer cooperation with Moldova under the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.
Following talks with Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu in Budapest, Minister Szijjártó told a joint press conference that their talks were given a special significance with regard to serious tension along the bloc’s eastern borders. Such tension goes “seriously against” Hungary’s national security interests, Minister Szijjártó said, adding that the Hungarian government was working to ease those tensions and promote dialogue between East and West. “We cannot ease the tension unless we talk to each other; sending messages and demonstrating power does not lead to a peaceful resolution,” he said.
Hungary “committedly supports” Moldova’s EU integration, Minister Szijjártó said, adding that a cooperation agreement between the two countries’ foreign ministries signed during the talks outlined ways for the Hungarian government to assist Moldova in joining the EU. Minister Szijjártó said the two countries’ political ties were based on mutual respect, which created the conditions for successful economic cooperation. Bilateral trade turnover reached 125 million euros last year, a 28 percent increase in spite of the economic crisis, thanks in large part to the increased role of Hungarian companies like OTP Bank and drugmaker Richter in the Moldovan economy, he said. Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 105 million euro credit line to further boost bilateral economic relations, Minister Szijjártó said, adding that the two countries had agreed to convene their economic mixed committee as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Minister Szijjártó said Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air will operate flights twice a week between Budapest and Chisinau from March. Hungary will also offer a state grant to 40 Moldovan students to study at a Hungarian university.
Asked about the situation in Ukraine, Minister Szijjártó welcomed announcements that several western European leaders were preparing to meet for personal consultations with their Russian counterparts. “Now a series of dialogues have got under way and we are pleased to have contributed to promoting this,” Minister Szijjártó said, adding that a meeting between the Hungarian prime minister and the Ukrainian president was not planned. Popescu thanked Minister Szijjártó for Hungary’s support of his country’s reforms and democratic transition and its integration process with the EU. He expressed openness towards further strengthening bilateral ties.
Photo credit: MTI