Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

President Novak: New chapter opens in Hungary-Serbia relations

A new chapter has been reached in the "golden age of Hungary-Serbia relations", President Katalin Novak said on Tuesday. Novak told a press conference that the founding of a Hungary-Serbia strategic cooperation council demonstrated that instead of making tactical decisions, Hungarian-Serbia friendship and cooperation are planned to be developed in the long-term.

Twelve working teams have been set up and their work is expected to bring some tangible results, she said. Among the topics discussed at a Tuesday meeting of the council, she highlighted the Russia-Ukraine war, the stability of the Western Balkans, the issue of Serbia’s European Union accession and demographics.

She said that Hungary-Serbia relations were characterised by the mutual respect between two freedom-loving and sovereign nations.

Commenting on the Ukraine war, she said the aim was to reach a ceasefire and peace agreement as soon as possible. She added that this must not distract attention from the Western Balkans, the stability of which is key to Europe’s stability. Peace and security are needed also in the Western Balkans, she added.

Commenting on Serbia’s EU accession, she said Serbia had submitted its membership application in 2009 and talks have been under way since 2014. Since then, Serbia has proven several times that it belongs to Europe, she added. She added that even before Serbia joined the Schengen Area, Hungary would like to simplify border crossing between the two countries.

She also said that cooperation between Serbia and Hungary was being increased in the fight against the “demographic winter”. Hungary is ready to offer its experiences to Serbia also in this area, she added. In response to a question, Novak said that a demographic summit would be held in Budapest on September 14-15 and Serbia counterpart Aleksandar Vucic had already confirmed his plan to participate.

Novak expressed sympathy in connection with recent shootings and floods in Serbia, and the events in Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the 12 agreements signed by Hungary and Serbia would “make life easier on both sides”.

Budapest-Belgrade ties “are at a historic peak”, he said, adding this was true of political and economic relations and person-to-person relationships.

Vucic highlighted new agreements on defence and security, adding that Hungary’s membership of NATO and Serbia’s neutrality was not an obstacle to cooperation, which had “reached the level where this is, and defence cooperation can still be successful”.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic called today’s agreements and the establishment of the Hungarian-Serbian Strategic Cooperation Council “of historic importance for Serbia”, adding that Serbia enjoys cooperation on such a high level only with Hungary.

The first joint Hungarian-Serbian government meeting was held in Belgrade in 2014, she noted, adding that bilateral relations had grown closer ever since.

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