In the absence of comparable European funds, Chinese funds are the best option for the construction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, but its actual costs can only be assessed with any degree of accuracy after the completion of the relevant public procurement procedure, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday in Budapest, in answer to questions from members of the press after the Ministry’s press conference held in relation to another topic.

The Minister said that – in light of a dollar-based facility offered with 2.5 per cent interest for a term of 18 years – there is no comparable credit option for infrastructure projects that could compete with the Chinese offer. Mr Szijjártó did not wish to comment on estimates regarding the overall construction costs, and stressed that competition among contractors may reduce prices. It is therefore in Hungary’s best interest that contractors in the largest possible numbers compete for the implementation of the project.

He pointed out that Hungary is not the only player in the competition for Chinese goods, but the Government would like to achieve that as much Chinese merchandise as possible should arrive in Europe via Hungary and should be transported onwards from here to Western markets.

Mr Szijjártó took the view that an electrified railway connection with the capital of the neighbouring state that is capable of a speed of 160 kilometres per hour is beneficial for Hungary under any circumstances, and he therefore described arguments that call Hungary’s interest in the project into question as incomprehensible.

The railway company MÁV Zrt. decided on the classification of the feasibility study, and it is understandable if they do not wish to share this document with their regional competitors, he added.

Regarding the speech delivered by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Berlin on Wednesday, Mr Szijjártó said that the Prime Minister delivered a speech on the economic measures implemented by the Hungarian Government before the executives of the 50 most significant German companies. French President Emanuelle Macron was the guest of honour of the meeting held annually, and this year, in addition to Mr Orbán, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Spanish Foreign Minister also made speeches.

The Hungarian Prime Minister’s address in Berlin is all the more significant because economic relations with Germany are crucial for Hungary. He added that more than 28 per cent of foreign working capital comes from Germany, and 6,000 German businesses employ some 300,000 Hungarian workers.