ZAGREB, May 30, 2019 – Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday the relationship between the Croatian INA oil company and Hungary’s MOL energy group burdened relations between the two countries which, beside this problem, cooperated well.
Every time we meet with Croatian government officials, INA is on the agenda, but we always let our Croatian friends know that is strictly a business issue, not a political issue being dealt with by the Hungarian government, Szijjarto told reporters outside the Croatian government after meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
I must admit the relationship between MOL and INA or MOL and the Croatian state is a burden in our relations and we would like to get rid of this burden, but that’s up to the two companies or to the company and the Croatian state. We can only keep our fingers crossed that they come to a solution, said Szijjarto.
Advancement of the relations with Croatia on the energy front is crucial for Hungary, he said. Energy security in this part of Europe is a critical issue. You see the relationship between Russia and Ukraine when it comes to the transit of gas, you see that Exxon and OMV still haven’t decided on the exploitation of gas fields in Romania. That’s why the LNG terminal in Croatia is one of the viable solutions for the diversification of energy sources. And since we realise that energy cooperation can’t be separated from the MOL issue, we hope for a solution to this challenge, Szijjarto said.
He arrived in Zagreb to open a new Hungarian Embassy building, saying this was a clear signal of the importance Hungary attached to relations with Croatia. We are neighbours and our allied and strategic connection is obvious. We wish to advance and strengthen that relationship, which currently has certain shadows because of energy issues, but other than that, we cooperate as we should, Szijjarto said.
A press release from Plenković’s office said the two officials concluded that Croatia-Hungary relations had been enhanced in recent months. Trade exceeds 2.2 billion euro and bilateral cooperation within the EU and NATO is very good, it added.
They underlined the importance of boosting economic cooperation, notably in energy, by taking into account supply security in all of central and eastern Europe. They also talked about the realisation of the LNG terminal project in Croatia.
Szijjarto extended Hungary’s full support to Croatia for entering the Schengen Area, and both officials said they were happy with the status and rights of the Croatian minority in Hungary and the Hungarian minority in Croatia.
Opening a new Hungarian Embassy building in Zagreb on Thursday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said many had humiliated and looked down on the central European peoples who were the driver of the EU’s development today, which was why it was important to additionally bolster the unity and cooperation between Hungary and Croatia.
We know that the EU, European culture, identity and security are faced with big challenges, which is why it’s good to see from Hungary that in our southern neighbourhood lives a proud people that wants to preserve its identity and won’t renounce its Christian values, Szijjarto said outside the embassy.
Many humiliated and looked down on us in central Europe, yet we have become the driver of the EU’s development, and for that jump to happen it was necessary to understand that it’s better to cooperate than disagree, he said, adding that Budapest considers Zagreb an ally, a friend and a good neighbour.
We also won’t forget that in the midst of the biggest attacks in the European Parliament, the Croatian members from the HDZ’s ranks stood by Hungary, which is why I’d like to thank Minister Pejčinović Burić and the Croatian government, said Szijjarto.
Last September, the EP adopted a report calling on the European Council to find that Hungary was endangering democratic freedoms and fundamental rights, thus gravely breaching the values on which the EU was founded. Five Croatian MEPs – Dubravka Šuica, Ivana Maletić, Željana Zovko, Marijana Petir and Ruža Tomašić – were among those who voted against the report.
Szijjarto said Hungarians appreciated Croats very much and loved Croatia, as evidenced by the 600,000 Hungarians who summered on the Croatian coast last year, bringing Croatia 400 million euro in revenue.
He recalled that Croatia was first in Hungary’s foreign investments.
Pejčinović Burić said trade was constantly rising, from 2.1 billion euro in 2017 to 2.3 billion euro in 2018.
The two ministers said Croatia-Hungary cooperation was excellent with regard to ethnic minorities and in science, defence, and in culture, which will be seen next year, during Croatia’s EU presidency, in a joint exhibition on the ties between the two peoples at the Budapest National Museum and Zagreb’s Klovićevi Dvori gallery.
More news about relations between Croatia and Hungary can be found in the Politics section.