Katalin Novák: Croatia and Hungary can help the European Union to become stronger
Croatia and Hungary are two Central European countries that can help the European Union (EU) to become stronger – President Katalin Novák pointed out at the international press conference she held together with Croatia’s Head of State Zoran Milanović at Sándor Palace in Budapest on Friday.
Katalin Novák summarised the topics discussed at the meeting in seven points. They talked about the Russian-Ukrainian war, halting illegal migration, the opening of the EU for the Western Balkans, strengthening infrastructure connectivity, broadening cooperation on energy, finding solutions to the demographic crisis and the issue of minorities.
The President of Hungary highlighted that Hungary welcomes Croatia’s Schengen membership and its introduction of the euro, and talked about the trade and tourism relations between the two countries.
The President of Hungary recalled that this is the first official visit of Zoran Milanović to Hungary, and the brave stand adopted by the Croatian leader can do much to help European leaders see things clearly. Katalin Novák added that the two countries celebrated the 30th anniversary of their establishing diplomatic relations last year.
The Hungarian Head of State pointed out that according to the relevant data, the number of tourists travelling to Croatia from Hungary last year exceeded 600 thousand. She also spoke about the trade relations between the two countries, which are outstanding and growing dynamically, as Croatia is Hungary’s third most important external trade partner, while for Croatia Hungary is the fourth.
Concerning the seven topics – which they discussed and agree on - she said: they condemn Russian aggression, support the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, and agreed that efforts to achieve peace is required. On strengthening infrastructure connectivity, she stressed they both agreed the construction of additional minor roads would be important.
Speaking about how to confront the demographic crisis, Katalin Novák stated that by supporting families, it is possible to reverse the decline in the number of children born.
On the issue of minorities, the President thanked Croatia for its attitude, as a result of which Hungarians in Croatia can expect support and understanding. Concerning cooperation in energy matters, she said that Hungary counts on Croatia as a key partner in the diversification of Hungary’s energy supplies.
Responding to a question from a journalist, the Hungarian Head of State recalled that 150 thousand Hungarians live in Transcarpathia whose rights are now severely curtailed. The current version of Ukraine’s law on minorities is unacceptable for Hungary, because it makes the life of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia more difficult in practice – she stressed.
She added that as she believes in dialogue, she accepted the invitation of President Zelensky to Kiev last year, and also brought up this topic during her visit to Transcarpathia to a representative of the President in charge of education affairs. Further, she described the criteria Hungary has concerning the drafting of a law on minorities in a letter to the Ukrainian President –Katalin Novák pointed out.
The President of Hungary noted that she has not received an answer to her letter, yet the answer is there in the daily life of Transcarpathia, in the streets. She stressed that the matter concerns not only Hungary, not just the Hungarian minority, but also the members of the Romanian, the Bulgarian or the Greek minorities, who are equally suffering from the new minority law and its consequences.