Countries of the region are strongly inter-dependent when it comes to protecting people’s health, maintaining supplies and sustaining the economy, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said. Szijjártó noted that he consulted his Czech, Slovakian and Austrian counterparts in a videoconference, and he emphasised that while taking measures at national level, countries should bear in mind the scale of their impact on neighbouring countries.
The officials agreed that measures should be planned for a timescale of months rather than weeks. The aim of the Hungarian government’s decision to ban foreigners from entering the country while allowing freight traffic is to protect people’s health while maintaining supply chains, he said. Szijjártó noted that Hungary’s trade with its neighbours is worth 42 billion euros, adding that ensuring seamless freight transport between them was highly important.
He said that special Hungary-Slovakia border arrangements may be possible in light of the countries’ strong ties, but current rules will apply in the meantime. Regarding the Austrian-Hungarian border, Szijjártó noted that many Hungarians commute to Austria, and maintaining that connection is important for both the Austrian economy and Hungarian employees.
Szijjártó asked all Hungarians abroad to contact the nearest embassy or consulate should they experience difficulties when returning home. Meanwhile, he said Hungary supported the Czech Republic’s initiative to set up a European coordination body to help EU citizens returning to their homelands. Currently, 46 Hungarians are quarantined in five countries around the world: 39 in Austria, two in China, two on a cruise ship quarantined in US waters, two in Vietnam and one in Singapore, he said.