Peter Szijjarto (right) in Gyula – Photo: Facebook

Hungary-Romania mixed committee on minority issues relaunched

Restarting the work of the Hungarian-Romanian mixed committee on minority issues will open a new chapter in bilateral ties, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday, after meeting Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu in Gyula, southeast Hungary.

Szijjarto said the mixed committee’s relaunch provided an opportunity to discuss and solve “problems that were earlier thought insurmountable”. The committee last met in 2011, he noted. He proposed a meeting as soon as possible to discuss important issues like the future of the Catholic secondary school in Targu Mures (Marosvasarhely).

Szijjarto and Aurescu also signed an agreement to facilitate border traffic between the countries. Two 24-hour crossings will also open between Elek and Graniceri (Ottlaka) as well as Dombegyhaz and Varias (Kisvarjas), he said.

The third motorway linking northern Hungary and northern Romania is expected to the opened in 2024, he said. Meanwhile, the railway line leading from Bekescsaba in southern Hungary to the Romanian border will be widened to improve traffic on the Budapest-Bucharest-Constanta line, he added.

The ministers also discussed energy security issues, Szijjarto said. Climate goals are important for both countries, but they see nuclear energy and a temporary reliance on natural gas as indispensable to achieve them, he said. “We will not allow Brussels to sideline those two forms of energy production,” Szijjarto said.

The minister said that conflicts would be easier to solve if the two countries were linked in many ways. Last year’s challenges have cast light on the importance of international cooperation and goodneighbourly relations, he said.

Regarding minority rights, Szijjarto noted that Hungary had raised the funding of Romanian ethnic communities five-fold in the past decade, and that of the Romanian orthodox church seven-fold. The government also funds the education of 1,176 pupils in Romanian schools in Hungary, he said.

Aurescu also welcomed the restart of the mixed committee’s work of which he was a co-chair earlier. Through this structure, the dialogue will include experts from both countries, and kindle the hope of restarting and developing the ties between the two countries, he said.

Aurescu also expressed hope to see the launch of the Hungarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce in the autumn as planned. Trade volume between Hungary and Romania reached 9 billion euros in 2020, although investments are currently skewed towards Hungary investing in Romania, he said.

Aurescu praised the Hungarian government’s support of quality Romanian-language education in Hungary, for ensuring the use of Romanian as a minority language, and for supporting the publishing of Romanian books and performers in Hungary.

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