Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak announces ‘alliance of family-friendly presidents’

Hungarian President Katalin Novak announced to set up a network of family-friendly presidents, at a press conference held after talks with her Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on Friday.

The network will comprise “family-centered, family-friendly heads of state”, she told a joint press conference in Belgrade.

She praised Vucic for showing “how important families are for him, as a person and as a president.” He is working so that young families planning to raise children can receive support in Serbia, she said.

The talks focused on migration, European Union enlargement and energy and family policy, she said.

Concerning the Ukraine war, Novak said the European Union’s sanctions against Russia and the arising energy crisis impacted Serbs and Hungarians alike, with ramifications reaching far beyond Europe. She warned of upcoming difficulties adding that the war was not likely to end soon. “That is why we support peace and call for the war to be stopped as soon as possible,” she said. “A way must be found to peace talks and an early peace agreement,” she added.

The president touched upon the wave of illegal migration arriving via Serbia. She thanked Serbia for its efforts to prevent masses of migrants from reaching Hungary. “We must do everything to preserve Europe’s security,” she said, adding that Serbia was a “key partner” in those efforts.

On the subject of Serbia’s endeavours to become an EU member, Novak said that country would add to the wealth of the EU, and insisted that “the EU also needs Serbia, not just vice versa”. Hungary will continue supporting “all decisions aimed at (Serbia’s) integration”, she said.

Novak noted a “much more intensive” than earlier economic cooperation between the two countries, and thanked Vucic for Serbia’s having been a partner in the Hungarian government’s economic programme in Vojvodina.

Vucic said bilateral ties were at a “historic high”, and noted Novak’s efforts, who had promoted relations in her previous positions and now as president. He also mentioned Prime Minister Viktor Orban and ethnic Hungarian leader Istvan Pasztor, who had “worked a lot” to improve ties.

Concerning the economy, Vucic said bilateral trade turnover had reached 2.2 billion euros in the first month of the year, the highest growth rate with Serbia’s partners in the region.

Vucic also mentioned Hungary’s allowing it to use its gas storage facilities. He added that his country was awaiting the winter season “if not calmly but with a calmer heart”.

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