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The opposition LMP party has called on the government to halt the China-backed project to upgrade the Budapest-Belgrade rail line. The party’s group leader accused the government of “treason” costing the nation around 1,000 billion forints (EUR 3.1bn). László Lóránt Keresztes said the project was a failure and had become “completely unnecessary and senseless”. The party has submitted a resolution to parliament to halt the project with immediate effect, he added.

He said the government in 2017 justified the investment on the ground that it would ease access to the port of Piraeus. But, he added, this reasoning was now obviated, given the government’s recent purchase of an area in Trieste with a view to building a port and logistics base there. Keresztes cited Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó recently stating that the port of Trieste would completely open up opportunities to Hungarian businesses. “This means the government has admitted that the development of the Budapest-Belgrade rail link is completely unnecessary in terms of the national interest. “According to professional estimates, the project’s cost, including servicing “a gigantic Chinese loan”, could come close to 1,000 billion forints, Keresztes said. He added that the development of the rail link primarily served Chinese interests as well as companies belonging to Lőrinc Mészáros, a businessman linked to the Hungarian prime minister, who owns a share worth at least 300 billion forints. “The project would take 1,000 billion forints out of the pockets of Hungarian taxpayers, when rural infrastructure around the country is in a parlous state,” he said. “This is proof that the government is committing treason against Hungarian interests.”