According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, the coronavirus epidemic is truly showing us to what extent the countries of the region are dependent on each other. The Minister spoke about this on Friday in Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) at the headquarters of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), at a joint press conference with RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen.

“In recent days, there has not been a single request from Romania’s Foreign Minister or Ambassador to Budapest that Hungary has not fulfilled, and we will continue to strive to help in future”, he declared. “We have enabled Romanian citizens on their way home to traverse Hungary using the designated routes”, he pointed out. “The Romanian authorities have been asked that this should in no way lead to crowding or traffic jams developing on Hungary’s territory. Unfortunately, our experiences are not totally positive in this respect. Overnight 15-20 km tailbacks developed on the border between Hungary and Romania because of the procedures of Romanian border guards. We have asked the Romanian authorities to change their procedures so that Romanian citizens returning from Western Europe do not accumulate in Hungary”, the Minister explained. “If this becomes reality, then we are prepared to also begin negotiations on finding a solution for the situation of Hungarian and Romanian citizens who commute to work across the border”, he added. “Hungary has been able to arrange this with Austria and Slovakia, so it doesn’t depend on us whether a solution is also found with Romania”, he noted.
Mr. Szijjártó expressed his hope that in the upcoming period relations between Hungary and Romania will be characterised by mutual respect, mutual assistance and mutual loyalty. “This will not depend on us”, he added.
“If I were to take things personally, I would to a certain extent regard it as a stab in the back that on the very same day that the Romanian Foreign Minister asked that Romanian citizens be allowed to traverse Hungary, another body of the Romanian government fined the Mayor of Szepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) thousands of euros for using a Hungarian national symbol on Hungary’s national holiday”, he mentioned. “It would be good to avoid such cases. We are helping Romanian citizens to return home, but we ask that during this difficult period our relations be governed by mutual assistance and mutual loyalty”, the Minister said.
In addition to protecting human life, the Minister also said he views maintaining the operational capabilities of economies as an important goal. “We have also asked for the cooperation of the Romanian authorities to ensure uninterrupted freight transport”, he pointed out, adding that trade flow between the two countries reached 8.3 billion euros last year. “Accordingly, uninterrupted freight transport is critically important to supplying the people of both countries”, he declared.
Mr. Szijjártó mentioned that his visit to Cluj-Napoca had been planned prior to the outbreak of the epidemic, and he had felt it important to, in addition to the virus, also discuss issues relating to future cooperation. “The Hungarian government is ready to continue the Szeklerland Economic Development Program”, he declared, adding that he regards it as a joint Hungarian-Romanian success that 6000 tender applications have received a total of 47 billion forints (EUR 131.5 million) in funding to date from the Hungarian budget, thanks to which 87 billion forints (EUR 243.5 million) in investment has been realised, which has enriched both the Hungarian community and the Romanian economy. “We are prepared to continue this programme in the Partium region, and as soon as conditions allow, we will be beginning preparations”, he declared. The Minister stressed that the Hungarian government is also prepared to continue its nursery school development program, within the framework of which 79 new nursery schools have been built and 385 refurbished in Transylvania to date.
At the press conference, RMDSZ President Hunor Kelemen said Romanian-Hungarian solidarity must be mutual. The politician asked Mr. Szijjártó to helf find a solution for the cases of Romanian and Hungarian citizens who live in one country in the vicinity of the border, but work in the other. The new epidemiological measures have made it impossible for them to commute to work, and this is endangering the livelihoods of thousands of people he explain