Hungary and Ukraine will reopen all five of their road border crossings by Monday morning, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with Dmytro Kuleba, his Ukrainian counterpart.
Thursday’s joint press conference was held after the first meeting of the Hungarian-Ukrainian inter-governmental economic mixed committee in seven years, on which the two ministers signed a protocol.
The border crossings will reopen with the current travel regulations remaining in place, Szijjártó said in response to a question by MTI. The decision comes after Lászlo Brenzovics, head of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association, asked Budapest to reopen all the border crossings between the two countries with a view to easing the burden on the sole crossing station that had been open up until now between Záhony and Csap, the minister said. The Ukrainian government has agreed to this, Szijjártó said, adding that border officials were discussing the technical aspects of the reopenings.
Kuleba said Thursday’s meeting had also served to lay the groundwork for the prime ministerial summit between Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky. In response to a question, Kuleba said Kiev was interested in a productive meeting between the two leaders at the summit it wants to organise next month. The protocol signed on Thursday will serve as the basis for a memorandum the two premiers will sign at the summit, he added.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó underlined the importance of handling the dispute regarding the rights of the country’s ethnic Hungarian community to education and the use of their mother tongue “in a civilised manner so that the issue does not hurt bilateral cooperation in other areas”.
“In the interest of maintaining a continued dialogue we’ve agreed to organise meetings of the inter-governmental mixed committees dealing with education and minority affairs, and we hope to get closer to resolving the issues that have led to disputes between the two countries,” Szijjártó said.
He also said Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 62 million dollar credit line to help promote bilateral business cooperation. “In addition we will also maintain a 50 million dollar credit line that we had offered to Ukraine for road renovations in Transcarpathia,” Szijjártó said.
The minister also urged the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles to the opening of a new border crossing between Nagyhódos and Velyka Palad (Nagypalád). He noted that Hungary will extend its M3 motorway to the Ukrainian border by 2023 and that Kiev had promised to build a highway that reaches the border by then.
Szijjártó also said that Hungary is prepared to cooperate with Ukraine on flood protection measures on the river Tisza.