“Vehicles can still pass uninterrupted through 29 of the 39 border crossing stations between Hungary and Austria that are suitable for the transport of goods; the fate of ten is uncertain, and a joint working group will decide on these border crossing stations”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at a press conference in Eisenstadt, Austria on Wednesday.

Following a meeting with Governor of Burgenland Hans Niessl, Mr. Szijjártó said the two countries will be setting up a joint working group to develop “the most rapid solution possible that will satisfy the communities”.

DownloadPhoto. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Minister noted that 7 of the 10 border crossing points in question are dirt roads.

He added that Hungary has taken all of the required steps to ensure that illegal immigrants cannot enter the country, and accordingly the new Austrian restrictions are unnecessary.

He told the press that on Wednesday morning he had met with 26 of the affected mayors in Győr, who asked him to assure that all border crossing points remain open. “This is also the intention of the Government”, he underlined, adding that the first meeting of the working group will be held in Eisenstadt next week.

The Minister also spoke about the fact that Austria is Hungary’s second most important trade partner, and relations between Burgenland and both Vas County and Győr-Sopron-Moson County are extremely intensive at economic, social and cultural level alike. “The Government’s standpoint is that these relations should not be restricted, but should instead be encouraged and supported. This requires Hungarians and Austrians to be able to travel to each other freely”, he said.

Mr. Szijjártó stressed that it is a major competitive disadvantage for Central Europe that the average distance between border crossing points is 30-40 kilometres, while in Western Europe this distance is two-and-a-half to three kilometres. The situation between Austria and Hungary is somewhat better, with an average distance of ten kilometres between border crossing points, he said.

He also spoke about the fact that there are a record number of cross-border development projects in progress between the two countries. Funding has been acquired from the European Union for the development of five border crossing stations, and railway development work is already underway at one of them, he explained.

Hans Niessl spoke about the fact that according to the state treaty, cars should not have been able to travel along the ten border crossing points in question, meaning that the new regulations on the continuation of border security checks have removed a customary right that was not included in the state treaty. A representative of the Ministry of Interior in Vienna will be invited to attend the meeting of the working group, as well as Burgenland’s Chief of Police, because the decision must be made at state level, he told the press.

DownloadPhoto: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Governor also spoke about the fact that cooperation between the two countries is good, and that Burgenland, Vas County and Győr-Sopron-Moson County count as modern regions within the European Union. A total of 27 joint cross-border projects between the two countries are in the realisation phase, with a total value of 57 million euros.