“The relationship between Hungary and Serbia is about cooperation and continuous construction”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at the opening of the Kübekháza-Novi Kneževac border crossing point on Friday. “Hungarian-Serbian relations set off from a state of hostility, but have now achieved the best bilateral relations in history”, Mr. Szijjártó stated.

“The two governments recognised that everyone loses with bad relations, but everyone, Hungarians and Serbians alike on both sides of the border, wins with good relations”, he added. The politician said the Hungarian-Serbian border became the most well known in Europe in recent years. “In 2015, tens of thousands of illegal immigrants placed this border under siege, simultaneously violating the laws and sovereignty of both Serbia and Hungary”, Mr. Szijjártó said. “The task can be nothing other than to assure that nobody can cross the border in contravention of the law, and for those who keep to the regulations to be able to do so in the most rapid and civilized way possible”, he stated. The Hungarian Foreign Minister said the behaviour appearing in international public life that handles the illegal crossing of borders as a human rights issue is hypocritical. “Illegally crossing a border is one of the most serious crimes that can be committed against a country’s sovereignty, and also represents a security risk and a source of danger”, he declared. Thanking the police and military personnel who have been protecting Hungary’s borders in recent years, the Minister underlined: “The fence will remain standing and stop all illegal immigrants”.

“New border crossing points between Hungary and Serbia are being constricted continuously in the interests of putting an end to ill-suited conditions, such as the fact that the inhabitants of Kübekháza and Novi Kneževac (Rábé), which are situated five minutes from each other, have until now only been able to visit the neighbouring settlement with a 50-kilometre detour”, the politician said. “The new border crossing point is the ninth between the two countries, and the fourth new border crossing point to be established in recent years. The average distance between border crossing points along the Serbian-Hungarian border is now on average just 18 kilometres”, the Minister said. “The programme is continuing, preparations for the Baja-Sombor border crossing point and the freight transport development of the Hercegszántó crossing point are being realised, technological developments are being introduced at Röszke to reduce traffic, and the refurbishment of the Szeged-Subotica railway line is also planned”, he explained.

Serbia is Hungary’s number one trade partner in the southern area of Central Europe, with trade flow between the two countries reaching a record 2.5 billion euros last year. “Cooperation is being drawn even closer by the Vojvodina Economic Development Programme, which has provided 38 billion forints (EUR 114.5 million) in funding to 10,426 enterprises, enabling the realisation of 75 billion forints (EUR 226 million) in investment”, Mr. Szijjártó said. “The Government is also supporting Hungarian enterprises that, following the example of MOL and OTP, are investing in Serbia, thus reinforcing the economies of both countries”, the Minister stated. Mr. Szijjártó declared that Hungary regards the integration of the Western Balkans as a key issue. “The earliest possible accession of Serbia is in the strategic, political, economic and security interests of the European Union and Hungary. Instead of picking on certain countries and the continuous repetition of false accusations, we expect the current Finnish presidency of the Council of the European Union to open at least three negotiation chapters with Serbia over the next six months”, the Minister emphasised.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said that in addition to the free movement of goods and people, the opening of the new border crossing point is also contributing to the region’s development, the fruits of which will be enjoyed by the citizens of both countries. “Serbian-Hungarian relations have achieved historic heights, there is a strategic partnership between the two countries, and our good neighbourly relations are exemplary both within the region and in a broader area”, the politician said. While also personally thanking Péter Szijjártó, the politician said it is important that Hungary is supporting the European integration of Serbia and is the loudest proponent of the country’s membership of the European Union. “Hungary can also count on Serbia’s support and cooperation in all joint issues in future”, Ivica Dačić declared.

Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimović pointed out that the two governments are practicing politics that are serving the interests of their own citizens, including minorities. The new border crossing point was established with an investment of 2.3 billion forints (EUR 6.9 million), including European Union funding. 2.5 kilometres of new road were constructed on the Hungarian side between Kübekháza and the border, in addition to which 860 metres of existing road leading to the border were refurbished. On the Serbian side, 1365 metres of road leading to the border crossing station were refurbished. The Kübekháza-Novi Kneževac border crossing point, which operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., was opened to the public (with the exception of coaches), on Friday afternoon. The border crossing point can only be used by citizens of Serbia, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and by their family members from countries with the right to free movement within the European Union. The authorities of both countries are monitoring traffic at a station established on the Hungarian side of the border.