The foreign minister said Hungary has a vested interest in maintaining the strategic partnership with Romania, which is key to avoiding recession, creating energy security and handling the “migrant wave”.
Following talks with Bogdan Aurescu, his Romanian counterpart, in Budapest on Tuesday, Péter Szijjártó noted that the two countries had signed a strategic partnership agreement 20 years ago. “There are always noisemakers who make a racket to seem to be in majority. But the aim of the two countries’ governments is to keep up the strategic partnership because that is in our nation's interest,” he said. The ethnic minorities living in each other’s countries are an asset in bilateral relations, the ministry quoted Szijjártó as saying. Hungary has raised government support for the country’s Romanian minority sixfold and that of the Orthodox church sevenfold since 2010, Minister Szijjártó said.
The foreign minister said the strategic partnership is an asset in successfully tackling the current economic, energy and migration challenges. “The European Union is currently barrelling towards recession”, the countering of which is helped by the “feat” of a record trade volume of around 10 billion euros reached between Hungary and Romania last year, Szijjártó said. Bilateral trade this year has grown further, by 29%, he said. Romania is Hungary’s third most important export market, with Hungarian oil and gas company Mol running 245 petrol stations and OTP Bank 97 branches in the neighbouring country. The pharmaceutical company Richter employs more than 600 people there, Szijjártó said. Romania also has a key role in the diversification of Hungary’s gas supplies, and the annual capacity of the interconnector between the two countries has been expanded to 2.5 billion cubic metres, the foreign minister said. Further, there is a four-party agreement in the pipeline that will allow Hungary to import green electricity from Azerbaijan via Georgia and Romania, he added.
The two countries cooperate in handling illegal migration on the borders, and the Romanian authorities’ effectiveness makes it possible for Hungary to concentrate on its southern border, where authorities have thwarted 250,000 illegal entry attempts this year alone, he said. Hungary’s strategic partnership with Romania helps to avoid economic recession, create energy security and “keep migrants out” of the country, “and so Hungary has a very clear interest in keeping up the partnership,” Szijjártó said. Referring to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who on Monday said of the sanctions against Russia: “We never expected the sanctions were going to finish the war, but certainly, they are weakening the capacity of the Russian army to renew its material,” Szijjártó called for a review of the EU’ sanctions. “A fundamental truth has been called into question, which until now has been an important pillar of the [EU] Foreign Affairs Council’s decision-making,” Szijjártó said. “So, what is the real aim of the sanctions, why have we done them?” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also held talks with Aurescu on Tuesday.