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Major opportunities in Hungarian-Romanian economic and infrastructure cooperation can be tapped, János Lázár, the minister of construction and investment, said in Bucharest after talks with several members of the Romanian government. The two countries want to connect their motorway networks, Lázár said, adding that Hungary will continue constructing the M49 motorway towards the Romanian border next year. Access to cohesion and recovery funding has created proper conditions for Romania to launch big infrastructure projects, the minister said. Bucharest will earmark 30% of these funds for transport development, including motorway construction in Transylvania, the western Romanian region where many ethnic Hungarians live. Lázár called the latter an “encouraging and reassuring development”. Romania is eager to catch up with the European average in terms of its transport network, which also lies in Hungary’s economic and national strategic interests, Lázár said.
Even though Romania’s accession to the Schengen zone is on the agenda and backed by Hungary, there is a pressing need to open as many border crossings as possible to boost trade between border regions, he said. “Whatever the political situation, Romania and Hungary are one another’s major trade and economic partners. As Hungary has a trade surplus of nearly 3 billion euros in two-day trade, it has a vested interest in safe, smooth and quick traffic flows between the border regions and on the major European traffic arteries,” Lázár said. Asked whether any progress had been made in opening new border crossings, the minister said that the related projects could gain momentum and “some previous brakes are being released”.
Lázár appreciated RMDSZ’s role in the Romanian government, adding that the alliance serves as an important bridge of cooperation between the two countries. The minister noted that the Hungarian government was financing some major investment projects in Transylvania, and has supported Romania’s ethnic Hungarian community with 400 billion forints (EUR 995m) since 2010. Lázár said these projects are also meant to benefit Romanian and are being implemented with the knowledge of the Romanian government.
His negotiating partners included Deputy Prime Minister Hunor Kelemen, leader of the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party, Minister of Development Attila Cseke and Deputy Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, the minister of transport.