Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto thanks Slovak Alliance politicians for ‘unifying’ ethnic Hungarian forces

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Tuesday thanked Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian Alliance party for creating a unified Hungarian political force in the country after "years of division".

Good bilateral ties are in Hungary’s interest, and the ethnic Hungarian community is the “bridge and an asset” in that process, Szijjarto told a press conference with Alliance leader Krisztian Forro in Borsa (Borsi).

“Its contribution to developing Hungarian-Slovak ties will be all the more robust if it has parliamentary representation,” he said.

He welcomed the emergence of an allied ethnic Hungarian party, and pledged Hungary’s continued support for “the joint Hungarian-Slovak success story”.

He thanked the politicians of Alliance, Most-Hid and MKP for “putting the interests of Hungarians first, even at the cost of personal compromise,” by entering and remaining in Alliance.

“We wish you success for Saturday,” he said, referring to the general election.

At the request of the ethnic Hungarian party Alliance, Hungary will continue to support its key programmes helping Hungarians living in Slovakia, he said.

At their meeting, Szijjarto and Forro reviewed the state of bilateral ties, the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and the upcoming general election.

“At the request of the party leadership, we agreed to continue key programmes supporting Hungarians in Slovakia. The Alliance’s success would significantly help the success of those schemes,” he said.

Noting that his Slovak counterpart had asked him to “behave” during his visit, Szijjarto called on all Hungarians to vote in the election on Saturday. “If Hungarians support the unified Hungarian parties, Hungarian representation can be restored in the Slovak national assembly,” he said.

A few years ago, the Hungarian government started an economic development programme designed to strengthen economic ties between northern Hungary and southern Slovakia, he said. Hungary has provided 43 billion forints (EUR 110.1m) in support for some 4,000 companies and subsidising local investments to the tune of 82 billion forints, he said.

Another “joint success” was that 16 new border crossings have opened between the two countries since 2010, with their number set to grow to 40 this year, he said. The 38th border crossing will be opened later today, he added.

Hungary has also supported the construction and revamping of educational institutions and churches, he said. “We also gave education subsidies to 40,000 children, because we know they are the cornerstone of preserving our mother tongue and community,” he said.

Good ties with Slovakia are all the more crucial as it is Hungary’s third most important trading partner, and the two countries share a 654km border, he said, noting that around 500,000 Hungarians live in Slovakia.

Later in the day, the minister inaugurated an agricultural integration centre in Somotor (Szomotor), in south-eastern Slovakia.

Under the project, Agro-Somotor will provide small farmers with the equipment they need before buying and reselling their crops in foreign markets at competitive prices, according to a ministry statement. The Hungarian government has supported the 3.5 billion forint (EUR 9m) project with a 1.7 billion forint grant.

The centre will integrate more than 100 farmers and open the door to selling tens of thousands of tonnes of products at competitive prices, Szijjarto said.

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