Szijjarto: Hungary to help Slovakia in testing Sputnik V

Hungary will help Slovakia with the laboratory testing of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after meeting Igor Matovic, Slovakia's deputy prime minister and finance minister, in Budapest on Friday.

“Slovakia has asked us and we are pleased to help them with the testing of the vaccine,” Szijjarto said, noting that Hungary had the knowledge and capacity in its internationally accredited laboratory for the procedure.

Hungary has an interest in its neighbours’ successful defence against the pandemic, he said, arguing that it also allowed Hungary’s defence efforts to be successful.

Highlighting the close ties between the two countries, Szijjarto said it would be impossible and wrong for them to “close themselves off from each other”.

The minister hailed Hungary and Slovakia’s “exemplary” cooperation in fighting the pandemic, and noted that last spring Slovakia had helped repatriate 93 Hungarians, while Hungary had helped 56 Slovaks get home.

He also praised bilateral cooperation in the operation of border crossings, ensuring the unimpeded movement of goods and aiding commuters.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said that a total of 197 Hungarian health-care professionals had helped out with mass coronavirus testing in Slovakia. He praised Matovic’s efforts in constantly pushing for bilateral cooperation in the pandemic response on Slovakia’s part.

But ultimate success when it comes to defending against the pandemic depends on the vaccines, Szijjarto said. Hungary has the second highest inoculation rate in the European Union relative to its population, he added.

“We’re vaccinating more people than others and that is because we have more vaccines than others,” he said, noting that Hungary had also purchased jabs from the East.

In response to a question, Szijjarto said that under its deal with Russia, Hungary was set to receive another 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V jab that will serve as first shots and 700,000 that will be used as second shots.

The minister also said that he will receive his second dose of Sputnik V later in the day.

Matovic thanked Szijjarto and Hungary for the friendly relations between the two countries, stressing that Hungary and Slovakia could both rely on each other.

He noted that the purpose of his visit was for Slovak experts to examine the Sputnik V vaccine in Hungary’s Official Medicines Control Laboratory, noting that Slovakia had no such facilities.

Slovakia has had its Sputnik V vaccines in storage for six weeks when they could have been used to save lives, he said.

Matovic also praised the Hungarian government’s courage for purchasing Eastern vaccines, which resulted in a better position for the country.

On Friday afternoon, Matovic was received by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, according to information from the PM’s press office.

Matovic shared a video on social media after his meeting with Orban, in which the Hungarian premier said Hungary was prepared to help Slovakia in every way it could and wished the country success in its fight against the pandemic.


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