Budapest, March 18 (MTI) – Serbia is Hungary’s number one trading partner in the western Balkan region with bilateral trade turnover growing by 4 percent to 1.8 billion euros last year, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the Hungarian-Serbian mixed economic committee, Péter Szijjártó said the two countries’ trade relations were at an all-time high. Hungary supports Serbia’s bid to join the European Union, as this would also serve Hungary’s economic and security interests, he added.
He said Hungary’s Eximbank would open a 61 million euro credit line to support business activities between Hungarian and Serbian companies.
Delegates at the meeting agreed to open two new border crossing points between Hungary and Serbia and to extend the operation of the existing border stations.
Szijjártó said the development of north-south infrastructures is crucial for both the western Balkan region and central Europe from both an economic and national security point of view. The revamp of the Budapest-Belgrade rail line is set to continue and the government has submitted to the European Commission the Hungarian-Chinese inter-governmental agreement on the project. He revealed that the government would submit the agreement to parliament at the end of the month for ratification. He expressed hope that next Monday’s meeting of the Hungarian-Chinese mixed economic committee would result in an agreement on the finances of the project.
Szijjártó said the two sides also agreed to allow MOL to explore and, if possible, extract hydrocarbons from cross-border fields.
Under other agreements, state-owned energy company MVM will enter Serbia’s soon-to-open energy stock exchange and, to reduce energy dependency, Serbia will be given permission to use Hungary’s gas reservoirs.
Snezana Bogosavljevic-Boskovic, Serbia’s minister for agriculture and environmental protection, said it was important to encourage both Serbian and Hungarian companies to invest in each other’s countries, adding that Serbia was thankful to the Hungarian firms that had invested over 470,000 euros in Serbia in recent years.