Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Igor Matovič laid the cornerstone of a new bridge spanning the River Ipoly between Drégelypalánk and Ipel’ské Predmostie (Ipolyhidvég) on Wednesday.
Addressing the ceremony, Minister Szijjártó said the HUF 2.6 billion (EUR 7.0m) bridge will be open to both passenger and freight traffic. He noted that the 50m bridge will spare travellers a 20km detour. Meanwhile, Minister Szijjártó said the government interpreted the outcome of the April 3 general election, in which the incumbent parties won a fourth successive supermajority, as a reinforcement of Hungary’s foreign policy, which he said was based on building mutually beneficial relations with neighbouring countries.
“We have put in a lot of effort over the last twelve years into building shared success stories with our neighbors,” Minister Szijjártó said. “The more links we have between us, the better we know each other, and the greater interest we have in each other’s success, the less reason we will have for disagreements or disputes.”
Whereas in 2010 Hungary and Slovakia had just 23 public road links between their borders, they now have 35, and six more will be established by the end of next year, Minister Szijjártó said. The two countries will build three bridges over the Ipoly and one over the Danube, as well as a ferry and a road crossing, he noted. Furthermore, Hungary and Slovakia have linked their electricity grids and gas pipelines, he said, adding that this was especially important given Europe’s current energy supply crisis.
As regards to trade ties, Minister Szijjártó said bilateral trade turnover reached a record 13 billion euros last year, a 27 percent increase from 2020. Trade turnover was up 56 percent in January this year, he added. The minister said Slovakia had become Hungary’s second most important trading partner and the fourth most important investment destination for Hungarian businesses. Minister Szijjártó said Hungary and Slovakia were aiming to boost their relations on the basis of mutual respect. He said Matovič was a “friend of Hungarians” who “fully understands the physical and symbolic meaning of the construction of bridges between the two countries”. Matovič welcomed the new link between the two countries, underscoring the value of peaceful relations today. “I firmly believe that a shared peaceful future awaits us,” he said.
Photo credit: Facebook/Szijjártó Péter