Attending a meeting of the Hungarian-Serbian economic committee in Budapest, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that calls of Hungary’s leftist politicians to scrap the upgrade of the Paks nuclear power plant and to stop gas deliveries were “irresponsible”. “We cannot allow that Hungarians pay the price of war.” Such steps would put at risk the secure energy supplies, one of the most important pillars of Hungary’s security, he said. “[W]ithout gas deliveries, there will be no heating in Hungary, the industry will grind to a halt … Without the construction of a nuclear plant in Hungary, the achievements of the government’s utility price cuts couldn’t be maintained, and energy prices would skyrocket,” he said. Minister Szijjártó called the Austrian and Hungarian branches of Sberbank, which ended operations on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, “the first victims of the European Union’s policy of sanctions”.
The minister said bilateral cooperation with Serbia was an important factor in Hungary’s economic and energy supply security. Bilateral trade jumped by 45 percent last year to reach a record 4 billion euros, he said. Meanwhile, Serbia’s GDP grew by 7.5 percent last year, with significant contributions from Hungarian oil and gas company MOL and the OTP Bank, Minister Szijjártó added.
Hungary has also kept up its economic development scheme in Vojvodina, Serbia’s northernmost region with a large ethnic Hungarian population. The Hungarian government has so far supported 14,741 local companies with a total of HUF 61 billion (EUR 164.5m), facilitating investments worth a total of HUF 123 billion, he said. Minister Szijjártó pledged to continue that programme, should both incumbent governments retain power in the respective upcoming elections. Minister Szijjártó and Anđelka Atanasković, Serbia’s economy minister, agreed to upgrade the border crossings at Röszke and Tompa to facilitate traffic between the two countries, as well as allow cargo transport at the Hercegszántó border crossing station.
Photo credit: MTI