Hungary and Serbia must cooperate to protect their borders, the security of their citizens and their cultural identity, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a Hungarian-Serbian government meeting in Budapest on Friday.
At the press conference, held together with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Orbán thanked Serbia for its help in stemming migration along Hungary’s southern borders. If needed, Hungary will also help Serbia with border controls in the south, he added.
Orbán also said that the four Visegrád Group countries — Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia — were urging Serbia’s European Union integration. “The achievements of development in Serbia are obvious,” Orbán said, and suggested that the EU should see that country as an asset, “especially in light of the fact that Serbia’s protecting itself against migration is also protection for the whole of Europe.” Serbia has a key role in the region, Orbán said and added that “there is no peace in the Balkans without Serbia”.
Orban highlighted the two countries’ seeing eye to eye over political issues.
He referred to Hungary and Serbia as “countries with national foundations”, which can cooperate very well.
“This is so much better than deceptive internationalism, which covers up problems; instead, we will identify, manage and resolve those problems,” he insisted.
The prime minister welcomed that the turnover of bilateral trade had grown by 30 percent last year and reached a record high. He also highlighted the presence of Hungarian investment in central and southern Serbia. “Promoting the ethnic Hungarian economy will help Serbia’s integration in the European Union,” he added.
Orbán assured Hungary’s Serbian community of the government’s support, and thanked Serbia for its support to the autonomy endeavours of Vojvodina Hungarians. He said “all that Serbia is doing for its minorities is exemplary.”
On another subject, Orbán said that from 2021 or 2022 Hungary will purchase over 4 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Romania, which will mean “the end of the Russian gas monopoly”.
Brnabic said that her country considered Hungary as a friend and expressed her wish that Hungary “should not only have a strong presence in Vojvodina province but in other parts of Serbia, too.
” Hungary-Serbia ties are “at a historical high” and the Serbian government will do everything in its capacity to further develop that cooperation, she added.
The Serbian prime minister also thanked Orbán for Hungary’s support for Serbia’s endeavours to join the European Union and advocacy of Serbia’s interests in Brussels.
She stated Serbia’s commitment towards cooperation with the ethnic Hungarian minority.
Brnabic praised bilateral economic and cultural cooperation which she attributed primarily to the commitment and personal friendship built between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic over the past years.
She highlighted further prospects of cooperation in connecting the two countries’ electricity networks, in expanding gas trade, as well as in farming and tourism.
Brnabic further noted the inauguration of a new border crossing point between Bácsszentgyörgy and Rastina (Haraszti) in the near future.
Concluding their meeting, the sides signed inter-governmental cooperation agreements.
Featured image: MTI