Both Hungary and Slovakia have benefitted a lot from their cooperation in the current rather tense global economic situation in which stable and predictable ties are of high value, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest on Friday, after talks with Ivan Korčok, his Slovak counterpart.
Szijjártó told a joint press conference that both countries were facing threats and challenges posed directly by the war in neighbouring Ukraine. “Both countries have taken in several hundreds of thousands of refugees. Hungary has offered entry to and catered for 800,000 people fleeing Ukraine and will continue to provide these forms of assistance as long as needed,” the minister said. He thanked Hungarian charity organisations and their staff for their efforts provided in the largest ever humanitarian programme in the country’s history, also thanking the work of their Slovak counterparts.
Turning to economic issues, Szijjártó noted soaring inflation, energy prices and banking interest rates as the most pressing challenges, adding that all those factors “could easily trigger a global economic crisis”. Szijjártó said that in the current tense global economic situation stable and predictable economic cooperation such as the one developed by Hungary and Slovakia over the past years must be particularly valued. He noted that bilateral trade last year reached a record 13 billion euros and increased in the first three months of 2022 by 49%. On the topic of energy and challenges faced by the sector in both countries, Szijjártó noted similarities not only in their geographical and infrastructural situation but in their energy policies. “Nuclear energy for example plays an important role in Hungary and in Slovakia, too,” he said. Both Hungary and Slovakia “have done their homework” as partners and have built their natural gas interconnectors, Szijjártó said, adding that its capacity was planned to be increased in the direction of Slovakia.
Concerning Ukraine, Szijjártó said the Hungarian government had expressed support for granting Ukraine candidate status for EU membership when most western European countries were still hesitating. The minister said the Hungarian government does not oppose sending weapons to Ukraine. “But dictated by the country’s security interests, it has decided neither to send weapons nor to allow their transport directly through the country’s territory. Others may choose to decide otherwise and we will respect their decision”, he said. Speaking about Hungary’s humanitarian efforts, Szijjártó said “it is not a problem that nobody has thanked us for the assistance, but we cannot accept that we are constantly being provoked and insulted by Ukrainian policy-makers.” Commenting on the future of the Visegrad Group (V4) cooperation, the Hungarian foreign minister said that despite strong cooperation between the four countries, it cannot be ruled out that they disagree on certain issues. “But despite the differences of opinion, we will continue to respect each other’s viewpoint,” he said.