“The unrestricted movement of goods and citizens wanting to return home must also be assured within the European Union during the crisis being caused by the coronavirus pandemic”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó warned in Sofia on Thursday following talks with his Bulgarian counterpart.

At the joint press conference following the meeting, the Minister said he and Ekaterina Zaharieva had agreed that all governments have a dual responsibility in the current situation: primarily to defend the lives and health of citizens, but also to assure the continuous supply of the country and the functioning of the economy.

As he explained, this requires that everyone guarantee the unrestricted flow of goods, in which the two parties expect a higher level of European coordination. “The transit routes that Budapest and Sofia are already affording for goods and European citizens wising to return home must be assured at community level”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The Minister added that the Hungarian government will be maintaining the regulations according to which Bulgarian citizens can enter the country by car between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. until Romania also allows them to cross its territory to get home.

The fact that he and the Bulgarian Foreign Minister had met personally rather than holding an “impersonal video conference” indicates the significance that Hungary and Bulgaria place on bilateral relations, he highlighted. “The two countries represent a similar position with relation to all of the challenges faced by the European Union”, he underlined.

Mr. Szijjártó said that in his opinion the issue of migration must be given even greater emphasis during the crisis in view of the fact that from now on waves of mass, illegal migration “not only represent a risk to security and culture, but also a major healthcare risk”.

“It is our joint standpoint that the external borders of the European Union must be protected”, he stated. With respect to the construction of Hungary’s border security fence, the Minister underlined: “What was often thrown into our faces as harsh criticism in Europe has now proven to be the correct decision”.

In closing, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade also mentioned that an agreement must be arrived at with Turkey (on keeping back the migrants), because without a sustainable solution the migration pressure on the European Union will become constant.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)