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The stronger the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party becomes in Romania, the easier it will be to lean on it in developing Hungarian-Romanian ties, the foreign minister said on Friday in Sfântu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy), in Romania. According to a ministry statement, Péter Szijjártó told a joint press conference held with RMDSZ head Hunor Kelemen that Hungary had strategic and economic interests in strong ties with Romania. Bilateral trade hit a new record last year, making Romania Hungary’s third largest exports market, he said. “We have more than doubled our trade volume as well as exports to Romania in the past decade,” Szijjártó said.
Hungary also has a vested interest in Romania’s integration into the Schengen Area as soon as possible, and will use its EU presidency starting on July 1 to do everything it can to speed up the procedure, he said. “That is in our economic interest, but contact between Hungarians in the homeland and in Romania’s Transylvania region and Szekler Land will also become much easier.”
Thanks to the lobbying of RMDSZ, the cooperation of Hungary’s government and Wizz Air, and Romania’s partial Schengen membership which allows easy travel by plane, Brasov will have a direct flight to Budapest from June, he said.
Noting that Romania will see four elections in 2024, Szijjártó said Hungary would “naturally” not try to influence the ballots, “but we maintain the right to root for candidates”. “We will root for RMDSZ … because the stronger RMDSZ is in Romanian political life, the stronger we can lean on it to improve and strengthen the ties between Hungary and Romania even further”. “I respectfully ask Hungarians in Szekler Land, Transylvania and the whole of Romania to cast their ballots at all of the elections in as large numbers as possible…” He said he hoped the election campaigns would be free from incitement against the ethnic communities, especially Hungarians. “We Hungarians base our foreign policy on mutual respect, and hope that will be mutual.”
Asked about President Klaus Iohannis’ candidacy for the post of NATO’s Secretary-General, Szijjártó said the results of the election were impossible to foresee. Hungary will “definitely not support” the candidacy of outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who called for Hungary “to be brought to its knees”, the minister said. “At the same time, we are happy there is a central European candidate. NATO has never before had a central European Secretary-General,” Szijjártó said.