Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó agrees with his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar that the protection of Europe’s external borders must be given priority, Europe must protect its external borders, he said in a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following his meetings in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

“Assistance must be taken to where the trouble is, meaning development programmes must be implemented in the source countries of migrants, in the interests of preventing further waves of migration”, he underlined.

Mr. Szijjártó and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar discussed migration, energy security and cooperation in the Slovenian capital. During the course of the day, the Hungarian Minister and Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec will be jointly opening the Ljubljana Book Fair, the guest of honour of which is Hungary this year.

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The two ministers regard it as unfair and unacceptable that Austria has reintroduced border security measures along both the Austrian-Hungarian and Austrian-Slovenian borders. “Both the legal and factual foundations of the Austrian measures are missing”, he underlined. “Legally, it is incompatible with the Schengen Agreement, in addition to which both Hungary and Slovenia are making a major effort to protect their borders, and Hungary, for instance, has spent one billion euros on border protection over the past three years”, he added. The two ministers said they believe that if Austria wants to be even more sure that no migrants set foot on the territory of Austria, then it would do much better to provide assistance towards the protection of the EU’s external border in Hungary and Slovenia.

With relation to infrastructure issues, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that in the interests of increasing both Hungarian and Slovenian energy security, the two countries will be accelerating the construction of the interconnector between their respective natural gas networks, and the infrastructure will also be completed on the Slovenian side by 2023, thanks to which the Italian liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal will become accessible to Hungary. In addition, he added, the Slovenian side of the electricity network connecting the two countries’ high voltage electricity systems will also be completed by 2021. “Hungary’s energy security will be significantly improved thanks to the two projects”, he underlined.

The Minister also said that two new cross-border roads will be completed by next spring at Lendvadedes and Orfalu, in addition to which the feasibility study for the Rédics-Lendava railway line has also been completed, and has been presented to the Slovenian party, he told the press.

“Security policy cooperation between the two countries is exemplary, and will now become even tighter thanks to the fact that a multi-national division command will be established within NATO in collaboration with Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia”, the Minister said, adding that Hungary will also be maintaining its supervision of Slovenian airspace, which it has been providing jointly with Italy for the past four years.

“Trade relations between the two countries are developing well”, the Minister declared. “Growth this year is 13 percent, which means that by the end of the year bilateral trade flow will have exceeded 2.5 billion euros”, he emphasised.

With relation to the Port of Koper development project, in which Hungary will not be taking part, although it would have liked to, Mr. Szijjártó said: “Minister Cerar informed me that the critical comments concerning Hungarian participation voiced by current Transport Minister Elanka Bratušek do not mirror the standpoint of the Slovenian Government”. “The new Cabinet has not come to a decision on foreign participation as yet. According to Mr. Cerar, he will be proposing a solution that will make use of the preparative work performed so far by the two countries”, Mr. Szijjártó explained, adding that he had taken note of the information.