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Szijjarto: Hungary-Italy cooperation important in security, economy, energy

Hungary and Italy already maintain significiant cooperation in security and the economy, while developing energy cooperation will add an another dimension to existing relations, the foreign minister said in Rome on Wednesday.

The ministry cited Peter Szijjarto as saying after talks with Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani that Italy had never before played as important a role in the Hungarian economy as currently, with Italy being the second most important target of Hungarian exports after Germany. Bilateral trade was record high last year, exceeding 8 billion euros, he added.

Italy is among the ten largest investors in Hungary and cooperation is also increasing in the defence industry, with a growing number of joint investment projects, he said.

“Our defence cooperation in NATO has reached a new level, with Italians making the largest foreign contribution of 250 soldiers to the enhanced forward presence multinational battalion in Hungary, and there are ongoing talks about how to further expand security cooperation within NATO in this area,” he said.

“There is a special Hungarian-Italian responsibility for the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and through this for the Western Balkans,” he added.

The development of energy cooperation will add another dimension, with a recent agreement with Slovenia on natural gas interlinks that will open the way for establishing a Hungary-Slovenia-Italy natural gas supply corridor, he said. Liquefied natural gas arriving in LNG ports in Italy can be expected to appear in Hungarian supplies in the mid-term already, he added.

Commenting on Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency, he said the Hungarian government was determined to take action againts illegal migration, with Hungary facing “enormous pressure” on the Western Balkans route and Italy on the Mediterranean route.

“The number of illegal migrants arriving in Italy increased by around 50 percent last year, so we share identical interests in protecting Europe’s external borders and in reducing the root causes of migration,” he said.

“”It is our common interest that Brussels should change its migration policy and stop inspiring further and further waves of migrants in the direction of Europe because the consequences will primarily affect the countries that lie on the external borders, regardless of whether they protect sea borders or land borders,” he added.

Szijjarto also met with the managing director of the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome. The WFP will finish moving into its new global finance service centre in Budapest within a couple of weeks, he said. The centre, which will manage 70 percent of all financial transactions necessary for the WFP’s operation, will start operating in May, he added.

Szijjarto on ‘Italian attempts to influence court procedure in Hungary’

“Some in Italy present Ilaria Salis, imprisoned in Hungary, as a kind of victim or martyr,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Rome, adding that the woman and her accomplices had “deliberately beat nearly to death innocent people in the street.” Szijjarto said he was shocked at some reactions to the case in Italy, and said the woman had “arrived in Hungary as a member of a radical, extreme leftist group” and “with a clear plan to catch defenceless and innocent people in the street and beat them to death.”

“They nearly killed people in Hungary … then she is seen as a martyr or subject to an unfair procedure,” Szijjarto said, adding that similar acts in Italy “would probably be penalised, too.”

He said he hoped Salis would be handed her “due punishment” in Hungary because “no extreme leftist group should consider Hungary a kind of boxing ring where … they could beat somebody to death.”

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