Deal Signed for New Hungary-Serbia Oil Pipeline - Most Important Agreement Between the Two Countries Ever?

  • 21 Jun 2023 10:42 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Deal Signed for New Hungary-Serbia Oil Pipeline - Most Important Agreement Between the Two Countries Ever?
With a view to boosting energy security, an agreement has been signed on building a new oil pipeline between Hungary and Serbia, and a regional JV natural gas trading company will be set by MVM and Srbijagas, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Palić, in northern Serbia.

The ministry cited Szijjártó telling a Hungary-Serbia strategic council meeting that the construction of the new pipeline to link Algyő with Novi Sad (Újvidék) was perhaps the most important agreement between the two countries ever.

He added that the new regional natural gas trading company of MVM and Srbijagas would start operations in the autumn.

“The more resources, the more routes and the more cooperation, the greater energy security,” he said.

“Hungary’s energy security would be unimaginable today without Serbia, and the same is true the other way round,” he said.

“The majority of Hungary’s natural gas supplies arrive through Serbia and we keep in storage over a hundred million cubic metres on behalf of Serbia,” he added.

He told the strategic council that Europe’s “most modern, largest and most gleaming border crossing” will be established between Röszke and Horgos, adding that it would be one of the largest joint projects of all time.

Szijjártó said cooperation could also enter a new dimension in foreign policy, with Hungary signing an agreement on setting up a joint foreign representative office with another country for the first time, enabling the expansion of the diplomatic network for both countries.

Serbia’s embassy in Kinshasa in Congo will host the Hungarian representation and Hungary’s embassy in Valletta in Malta will host Serbia’s mission, he said.

The programme will be continued in order to have representation most effectively in most places around the world, he added.

Szijjártó also said that economic cooperation had broken several records, citing investments by Hungarian companies in Serbia, trade reaching 6 billion euros last year, and an economic development programme for Vojvodina which supported 14,200 companies with a total of 171 billion forints (EUR 190m ) last year.

Several contracts are scheduled to be signed at the meeting, including a declaration of intent on building a new oil pipeline between the two countries, an agreement on the exchange and protection of certified data, a cooperation agreement on the policing of foreigners and an agreement on the opening of a joint representation office in Kinshasa.

Additionally, the agreements on border controls on public roads, railways and waterways will be amended.

President Novák: New Chapter Opens in Hungary-Serbia Relations

A new chapter has been reached in the “golden age of Hungary-Serbia relations”, President Katalin Novák said in Palić, in northern Serbia.

Novák 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 the Council’s Tuesday meeting, she highlighted the Russia-Ukraine war, the stability of the Western Balkans, the issue of Serbia’s EU 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. Novak 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, Novák said that a demographic summit would be held in Budapest on September 14-15 and Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić had already confirmed his plan to participate.

Novák also expressed her sympathies in connection with recent shootings and floods in Serbia, and the events in Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić 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 interpersonal relationships.

Vučić 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 Brnabić called Tuesday’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.

Orbán: Hungary-Serbia Ties Based On Common Values

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Palić that the good relations were rooted in common features of the two nations.

“Serbs have freedom, sovereignty and independence in their DNA, the same way Hungarians do.” That “shared DNA” is at the root of the respect Hungarians show towards Serbia, he added.

Orbán praised his ties with Vučić, saying they had met for the 32th time on Tuesday.

“Friendship and alliance in politics is only achievable with hard work,” he said.

Meanwhile, the differences between the two nations are valuable assets in cooperation, he said: “Serbia is not a NATO member like Hungary. Serbia is not an EU member like Hungary.

Serbia is an Orthodox Catholic country, Hungary is Roman Catholic. Serbia is situated on the Balkans, while Hungary is in central Europe.” Strategic cooperation between them is expected to be hugely beneficial for both parties, he said.

The delegations of Hungary and Serbia signed 12 agreements during the meeting in Palić. The documents pertained to the foundation of the Hungarian-Serbian Strategic Cooperation Council, cooperation in foreign affairs, border protection, the construction of an oil pipeline between the two countries, European integration, the protection and exchange of confidential data, infrastructure, agriculture, defence and customs.

Orbán Asks Vučić to Release Kosovans​​​​​​​

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday asked Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to consider releasing the three Kosovan policemen apprehended in Serbian territory last week.

Orbán told a press conference after a meeting of Hungarian and Serbian heads of state and government in Palić, in northern Serbia, that Hungary was paying close attention to the situation in Kosovo, and “sees the harm suffered by Serbs.”

Orbán called it unacceptable that the international community should recognise an election as legitimate with a mere 4% turnout.

At the same time, he said that releasing the policemen “would help Serbia’s position in international politics.” Vučić responded as saying that the issue was in the hands of Serbia’s judiciary system.

Regarding the two countries’ relations, Orbán said: “As soon as Hungary and Serbia realised that they cannot be held hostage by history, their relations started developing”.

“A defining topic worldwide today is who is not cooperating with whom and why. Decoupling and de-risking are the dominant words of international politics.

​​​​​​​We are setting a good example by striving to cooperate with as many countries as possible, rather than talking about who we do not want to work with,” Orbán said.

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