“Despite the differences of opinion that have developed in political dialogue and concerning the rights of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia, at our meeting today we succeeded in concentrating on concrete projects that are equally important to both countries”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Parliamentary State Secretary, Levente Magyar said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Monday.

The State Secretary held talks with Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasyl Bodnar, Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kistion and Infrastructure Minister Viktor Dovgan, as well as with Slavomir Novak, Director of state road maintenance company Ukravtodor.

“There are several smaller projects under negotiation that could bring the Ukrainians closer to the Hungarians, and the two countries closer together”, Mr. Magyar said. Concerning the details, he highlighted the fact that airline Wizzair is preparing to launch a direct air passenger route connecting Lemberg (Lviv) and Budapest.

“We are planning to construct two new motorway links between our two countries through extending the M3 motorway in two directions towards Ukraine; the planning of this project is currently ongoing” he explained.

The State Secretary said the bypass at Berehove (Beregszász) and the renovation of the road between Berehove and Mukachevo (Munkács), which will be realised with Hungarian funding and towards which the Hungarian Government has offered a budget of 50 million euros, were also important. “We have agreed that we will soon be publishing the public procurement tender on which Hungarian-Ukrainian joint consortia will be able to take part. It is our hope that work can begin next year, or in 2020 at the latest”, he added.

The significant reduction of rail travel times between Mukachevo and Budapest was also discussed. This means that the parties would like to reduce the travel time for the 300km journey from the current 8-9 hours to 2-3 hours, which will be realised through technical modernisation and regulatory harmonisation. According to Mr. Magyar, an agreement on the new timetable could be concluded before the end of this year.

The modernisation of border crossing points and the opening of new ones was also discussed at the meeting. “Both countries have already invested significant resources in constructing the stretches of road leading to the border”, he noted. The State Secretary highlighted the establishment of the border crossing point between Nagyhódos and Nagypalád, where the roads leading to the new border checkpoint have already been built, and only the construction of the actual border control building remains to be realised.

During the course of the day, Mr. Magyar will be taking part in the re-inauguration of the statue of Hungarian poet and freedom-fighter Sándor Petőfi in Kiev. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary have contributed 17 million forints to the renovation of the statue and its environment.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)