Foreign ministers Péter Szijjártó of Hungary and Miro Cerar of Slovenia agreed in Ljubljana on Tuesday that Europe should give priority to protecting its external borders and developing the related capabilities.
“Help must be taken to where the trouble is, with development projects carried out in the migrants’ countries of origin so as to prevent another wave of migration,” Szijjártó told MTI over the phone.
During the day, Szijjártó and Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec are scheduled to open the Ljubljana book festival where Hungary is a guest of honour.
The two ministers also discussed migration, energy security and cooperation. They agreed that Austria’s latest move to re-introduce control along its border with Slovenia and Hungary were unfair and unacceptable.
In legal terms it is incompatible with the Schengen agreement, Szijjártó said, adding that both Hungary and Slovenia are making major efforts to protect the external borders of the European Union. He noted that Hungary had spent 1 billion euros on border protection over the past three years. If the Austrians want to make sure that no migrants enter their territory, they should help Hungary and Slovenia protect the EU’s external borders, he said.
Concerning infrastructure projects, Szijjártó said the construction of a Hungarian-Slovenian gas pipeline will be accelerated to enhance both countries’ energy security. The Slovenian section will be completed by 2023, giving Hungary access to LNG terminals in Italy, he said. Also, the power transmission line linking the two countries’ high-voltage electricity grids will be completed by 2021, he added.
Szijjártó said two new border crossing roads will be opened next year, one at Lendvadedes and another at Orfalu. A feasibility study for developing the Redics-Lendava (Lendva) railway line has been completed and submitted to Slovenia, he added.
Szijjártó told Cerar that Hungary would once again implement an economic development scheme for the Mura region next year which will involve distributing 1 billion forints from the Hungarian budget among SMEs in the region.
Security cooperation is exemplary between the two countries and will become even tighter if Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia set up a joint division command within NATO, Szijjártó said. Hungary will continue monitoring Slovenia’s airspace in tandem with Italy, a mission started four years ago, he added.
Trade relations have been developing well, with the turnover expected to increase by 13 percent to exceed 2.5 billion euros this year, Szijjártó said.
Featured image: MTI