President Novák and Romanian counterpart discuss wars in Ukraine and Israel

The last time a Romanian head of state paid an official visit to Hungary was 14 years ago.

President Katalin Novák and Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis discussed the wars in Ukraine and Israel, as well as Romania’s Schengen accession process. Other topics on Wednesday's meeting agenda in Sándor Palace in Budapest included national minorities, Hungary’s 2024 EU presidency, and economic, energy and transport ties.

“The situation of national minorities is important to both of us and to us, Hungarians, the fate, present and future of the Hungarian community in Transylvania is especially important…” President Novák told a press conference afterwards. The last time a Romanian head of state paid an official visit to Hungary was 14 years ago, she noted. “So today’s meeting is of historic significance,” she added. The president said the aim was to pursue pragmatic Hungary-Romania relations worthy of important neighboring countries. Hungary and Romania have both made their stances on the war in Ukraine clear, Novák said, noting that they condemned Russia’s aggression against its neighbour and strived to aid Ukraine in its defence. Hungary provides all the necessary humanitarian aid to those fleeing Ukraine, she noted. Ukraine is home to a significant number of both Hungarian and Romanian national minorities, President Novák said, adding that they were counting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s cooperation in remedying the violations against minority rights and in doing everything possible to enforce those rights.

Concerning the war in Israel, President Novák said Hungary has expressed its sympathies and support to Israel “in this tragic situation”. The president added that she will attend a worship service organized by the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) and Budapest’s Jewish Community. President Novák said she and Iohannis were in agreement that support for the local Hungarian community contributes to Romania’s development, and that the easing of tensions was, therefore, a shared interest. Romania’s place is in the Schengen area, the president said, calling it “unfair” that the country had not yet been allowed to join the European Union’s passport-free zone. Hungary assures Romania of its continued support, she said, adding that there was no need for a Schengen border between the two countries. As regards Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency, Novák said the country wanted to achieve results when it came to the integration of the Western Balkan countries, and the management of the demographic crisis would also be a priority. Meanwhile, Novák said economic ties between Hungary and Romania were flourishing. Romanian exports to Hungary have seen a 1.5-fold increase, while the number of border crossings between the two countries has increased to 14, she said, adding that there was more untapped potential in bilateral economic relations. Concerning energy, she said Hungary was working to diversify its energy sources, in which it was counting on Romania. She said she and Iohannis agreed to boost bilateral energy ties as well. In response to a question, President Novák said Hungary condemns the terrorist attack against Israel and aimed to do everything possible to prevent an escalation of the conflict. More and more armed conflicts of unprecedented intensity are breaking out across the globe and many world leaders are working to prevent this from escalating into a third world war, she said, adding that wise and sound decisions were needed.