At a press conference following a joint meeting of the governments of Slovenia and Hungary and the signing of intergovernmental agreements, the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, and the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjárto, presented specific cooperation projects and the positions of Slovenia and Hungary.
By way of introduction, Minister Počivalšek said that the coronavirus pandemic had shown that Slovenia had friends in its immediate neighbourhood, with whose help it had managed to solve many difficult problems in the past, and expressed his belief that this has enabled the two countries to further build on their already good relations.
He highlighted the sound economic cooperation and cooperation on infrastructure projects between the two countries and the high level of economic activity on both sides. He listed some of the more prominent projects that have already been implemented or will be implemented in the future: establishing the Beltinci–Lendava–Redics railway connection, strengthening the role of the Port of Koper in the development of Slovenia and Hungary, re-establishing a flight connection between Ljubljana and Budapest, the construction of the Cirkovce–Pince electricity transmission line and establishing a gas pipeline between Slovenia and Hungary.
In defence matters, it is important to strengthen the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO and improve the energy efficiency of the defence sector. Minister Počivalšek said that, from the economic point of view, he saw a great opportunity for further cooperation in the fields of tourism and investment, where investments by Hidria and Pipistrel are particularly important, as well as in research, development and technology.
Minority communities are an important theme of the cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary. The Slovenian Prime Minister, Janez Janša, and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, signed a letter of intent on cooperation in the economic and social development of the ethnically mixed area on both sides of the Slovenian-Hungarian border. The two countries have also committed themselves to renewing their cooperation in the field of education and providing high-quality education in minority languages in the ethnically mixed areas.
Minister Počivalšek said that the two countries shared similar views on the future and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, agreeing that the pandemic remains a key challenge that needs to be addressed in order to return to at least some form of normality and lead our lives as we did before the pandemic and ensure the normal further development of the two economies. Minister Počivalšek took the opportunity to congratulate Hungary on its vaccination rate, expressing his belief that Slovenia will also achieve progress in this area and contribute to restoring life to normal in the entire Central European region.
He said that the talks also touched on the situation in Afghanistan, stressing the importance of ensuring security for citizens of Slovenia and Hungary and providing support to third countries which offer shelter to many vulnerable groups that depend on humanitarian assistance.
The two countries also stressed the importance of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans and of ensuring a promising future for young people in the region. In October, Slovenia will host the EU-Western Balkans summit as part of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU. In this regard, he said he was convinced that the summit would be a step forward and that it would provide the Western Balkan countries with specific commitments and a roadmap for their European integration.
The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjárto, expressed thanks for being invited to Slovenia and commended the idea of a joint government meeting as excellent. The very fact that Slovenia and Hungary hold joint meetings clearly shows that the two countries share very close ties and have the highest level of cooperation of all time.
In his words, the timing of the meeting was excellent, as Hungary assesses that we stand at the beginning of a new global economic era, although at the same time Europe does face some serious security challenges. Europe is threatened from many sides, from migrants, and it seems that it is incapable of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. As for migration, he thinks that Western European politicians are repeating the mistakes of 2015. He described the presence of the West in Afghanistan as a complete failure, and on that matter, he called for the protection of Europe’s borders and assistance to vulnerable groups.
Hungary supports the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and its efforts for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans. He emphasised that Hungary’s strongest companies participate in the development of the Slovenian economy.