New Bridge Between Hungary-Slovakia Now Officially Open

  • 12 Mar 2024 6:37 AM
  • Hungary Matters
New Bridge Between Hungary-Slovakia Now Officially Open
Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó inaugurated a bridge spanning the River Ipoly between Drégelypalánk, in northern Hungary, and Slovakia’s Ipeľské Predmostie (Ipolyhídvég) in a formal ceremony.

The 50-metre St Borbála Bridge costing some 3 billion forints (EUR 7.6m) will allow drivers to cross the border in only a couple of minutes instead of driving 20 kilometres, Szijjártó said.

He noted that Hungary has the longest common border with Slovakia, adding that the 654km border section had only offered 22 crossing points back in 2010. With the new bridge added, the two countries now have 40 crossing points, he said.

Under an agreement signed in 2014 by the two countries’ leaders, the number of border crossings has been increased by 18, Szijjártó said.

“This is a real success story which needs to be continued, so we are prepared to build new bridges, roads and rail lines [connecting the two countries],” the foreign minister said.

The new bridge replaces a 15th century one that was destroyed in the second world war.

Orbán: Hungary, Slovakia Proponents of Peace

Hungary will stick to its “policy of peace” and welcomes that Slovakia is taking a similar stance, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Budapest, after meeting Peter Pellegrini, the head of the Slovak National Assembly.

Orbán said Hungary was “watching with concern as hundreds of thousands die or become widows or orphans” in the war in Ukraine.

Orbán said peace was the most pressing issue currently, “but Europe is speaking the language of war.” Hungary and Slovakia, meanwhile, are speaking the language of peace, he said.

Orbán vowed Hungary would stand by its policy and said he hoped to be able to work for peace with Slovakia. “Good neighbourly relations are all the more valuable in times of danger,” Orbán said.

Orbán and Pellegrini discussed matters pertaining to sovereignty, such as the European Union debate on “taking away member states’ right to veto certain issues, including foreign policy, and the regulation that decisions must be voted for unanimously,” he said. On that matter, Hungary and Slovakia are pro-sovereignty, he said.

Orbán thanked Slovakia for its help in protecting the Hungarian-Serbian border, noting that the country had sent policemen to perform their tasks there during Pellegrini’s premiership.

“We got help in protecting our southern borders, which is why we don’t have tens or hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants roaming central Europe today,” he said. Slovakia and Hungary fought together against the EU’s mandatory resettlement quotas, too, he added.

Hungary and Slovakia both see “energy freedom” as very important, and cooperate in energy policy, including nuclear energy, he added. He welcomed that 18 new border crossings have been opened between the two countries since 2018.

He praised Pellegrini as a prime minister under whose tenure Hungary and Slovakia’s friendship had deepened, “and we found common ground on which to build good neighbourly relations.”

Pellegrini: Hungary, Slovakia in Agreement on Major Issues

The governments of Slovakia and Hungary see eye to eye on important issues, Peter Pellegrini, head of the Slovak National Council, said after talks in Budapest.

Hungary and Slovakia are “not only connected through a joint position and a shared history, we are prepared to take further, active steps to develop our cooperation,” he said.

Pellegrini noted that he and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó had inaugurated another new bridge serving as a further border crossing point between the two countries. He also said that the prime ministers of Slovakia and Hungary were preparing a new memorandum of understanding.

Concerning energy, Pellegrini said the two countries had linked their gas networks and built new electric links, too, in recent years. He also called for further, intensive cooperation in the area of nuclear energy.

He welcomed that the two countries had managed to convince the Council of Europe to include nuclear energy in its list of safe energies.

He said Slovakia continued to assist Hungary in protecting its borders, adding that his government had sent “a sharp message to humans smugglers” as one of its first measures: “Slovakia will not be a transit country”.

“As a small country, Slovakia will never consent to removing the veto right of EU members,” Pellegrini said, and welcomed that Hungary supported that position.

The Slovak government has decided not to send troops to Ukraine “despite being criticised for that sovereign and independent position … bloodshed cannot be avoided unless we muster up the courage needed for peace talks,” he said.

Hungary is a major business partner to Slovakia, Pellegrini said. He welcomed that the turnover of bilateral trade was on the increase and that both countries supported their ethnic minorities.

House Speaker Meets Slovak Counterpart

Speaker of Parliament László Kövér met his Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, on Monday, to discuss the challenges brought on by illegal migration and the future of the European Union.

Kövér said in a press release that Slovakia and Hungary had similar views on the EU’s enlargement, migration and the future of the bloc, he said.

He slammed the EU’s treatment of south-eastern European candidates as “morally indefensible and unfair”, and called for the process to be sped up. Hungary and Slovakia’s interests in “reforming the organisational and treaty system of the EU” are also similar, Kövér said. “We insist that the EU remains an alliance of strong member states.”

The two countries will also oppose all “encroaching attempts” to strip member states of competencies, Kövér said, citing mandatory resettlement quotas or scrapping unanimous decision-making as examples.

He called for further talks on cooperation “after the European parliamentary elections”. Slovakia is Hungary’s third largest trading partner, and the economic cooperation creates further fields of interest, he added.

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