Three crossing points have re-opened for commuters at the Hungarian-Serbian border, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Hungarian and Serbian nationals who work or have land to farm on the other side of the border can cross at Röszke, Tompa and Hercegszántó as of 6am on Thursday, he said.
Serbia introduced strict restrictions in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic banning passenger traffic at its borders, Szijjarto said.
The ban has seriously affected many residents and local businesses in the border region, he said.
Szijjártó said he had discussed the issue with Serbia‘s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic and agreed with them on re-opening the three border crossings for commuters.
As we wrote yesterday, Ukrainian, Romanian and Serbian guest workers heading for Western Europe are only being allowed to enter the territory of Hungary during a fixed period of four hours, read more HERE.
The minister told a press conference in Horgos, on the Serbian side of the border, later in the day that the policy will apply to Hungarian and Serbian nationals living within a 50km distance of the border.
Meanwhile, he said Hungary’s OTP Bank and oil and gas company MOL would both play key roles in reopening the Serbian and Hungarian economies.
In addition, the government will carry on with its economic development scheme in Serbia’s northern Vojvodina region which has so far generated 86 billion forints’ (EUR 240.9m) worth of investments, Szijjártó said.
The two countries will continue with the upgrades of the Budapest-Belgrade and the Szeged-Subotica-Baja railway lines, he said. Construction of the gas corridor that will transport gas to Hungary from Turkey via Bulgaria and Serbia is also ongoing, he said, adding that the Hungarian section of the pipeline is set to be completed by October 2021.
Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 120 million euro credit line to help boost cooperation among Hungarian and Serbian businesses, Szijjártó said.
“It is the difficult situations that demonstrate how intertwined our fates are,” he said, arguing that Hungary and Serbia had a mutual interest in having “strong and healthy” neighbours. “So, the quicker the Serbian economy rebounds, the more that will benefit the Hungarian economy, as Serbia is our most important trading partner in the Western Balkans region.”
In response to a question, Szijjarto said the Röszke border crossing was open to Serbian transit travellers bound for western Europe for work purposes between 2pm and 6pm every day.
Asked about the situation of ethnic Hungarian secondary school students from Vojvodina who are scheduled to take their school-leaving exams, Szijjártó said they would be given the opportunity to take their exams in Hungary.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told the same press conference that bilateral relations were “exemplary”.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó proposed that Hungary and Serbia should open more border crossings to commuters.