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Economic cooperation between Hungary and the Czech Republic “has reached a new level” over the recent period, the foreign affairs and trade minister said in Prague.

Based on the currently available data, the volume of trade between the two nations will be close to ten billion euros by the end of the year, Péter Szijjártó told public media. This clearly demonstrates “the new dimension” of bilateral ties, he added.

There have been a number of Hungarian businesses that have had success on the Czech market. Hungarian oil and gas company MOL, for example, operates 306 petrol stations in the country and has become the number two oil and gas company in the Czech Republic, he said.

The Czech Republic is also MOL’s second biggest market. Drugmakers Gedeon Richter and Egis also have leading products on the Czech pharmaceutical market, while Czech conglomerate Agrofert has acquired stakes in Hungarian baked goods, agricultural and food companies, he said.

Szijjártó noted that earlier this year, the PPF Group agreed to buy the assets of Telenor Hungary and that Czech carmaker Skoda won a contract to supply Budapest with 21 trolleybuses.

On another subject, the minister said bilateral defence cooperation had also entered “a new dimension”, noting that Hungary has bought two trainer and two reconnaissance aircraft from the Czech Republic. In addition, Hungarian air cadets are being trained by Czech instructors. Hungary has purchased licences from the Czech Republic for the production of firearms, he said.

The two countries are cooperating in the development of a high-speed rail network connecting the capitals of the Visegrad Group countries. The feasibility study will be finalised by 2020, and the V4 have put together a four-party working group for the project, Szijjártó said.

Hungary and the Czech Republic are also collaborating in the field of nuclear energy, he said, adding that there are five Czech companies involved in the operation of Hungary’s nuclear power plant in Paks.