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Hungary and Bulgaria work in close cooperation towards protecting Christian communities and establishing a new form of partnership in central Europe, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee said after talks with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Mariana Nikolova in Budapest. Nikolova visited Budapest to attend a conference marking the 575th anniversary of the Battle of Várna.

Hungary and Bulgaria are participating in central and eastern Europe’s Three Seas Initiative and are frontrunners in regional infrastructure development projects including energy, Zsolt Németh told reporters. He highlighted close ties between the two countries, noting the celebration of Hungarian-Bulgarian Friendship Day for the third time this year.

Miklós Soltész, the state secretary in charge of churches, minorities and civil affairs, told the conference that there is still a pressing need for joining forces with nations in the Balkans and for the European Union to handle these countries as full-fledged members. He said if nations in the Balkans are not treated as “allies and full-fledged partners” then “there will be trouble once again” in the region. Western Europe, however, has failed to recognise this threat, he said.

The government helps ethnic Bulgarians living in Hungary preserve their mother tongue and supports the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Hungary because Bulgarian Christians deserve the same rights and opportunities as other long-standing churches in Hungary.

Nikolova said the conference demonstrated that Bulgaria and Hungary “were making efforts to preserve their cultural identities and traditions”. The Battle of Varna is a symbol of the centuries-old relations between Hungary and Bulgaria, she said. It was also symbolic that Hungarians, Bulgarians, Transylvanians, Bohemians, Wallachians, Bosnians and Poles joined forces to protect Christian values and their freedom, she added.

An international alliance was set up in 1444 to stop the Ottoman land gains in Europe, with the aim to liberate the Balkans. On November 10, the Ottoman army defeated the Christian army commanded by Wladyslaw III of Poland (also King of Hungary), who died in the battle.