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Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the handover ceremony for the Belgrade-Novi Sad railway line

Dobar dan! Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This is a great day for you, and on it I sincerely congratulate you, on behalf of all Hungarians. I have come here to bring you heartfelt greetings from Hungary and the Hungarian people.

For the past seventy years we have been connecting countries from East to West, all the while forgetting how important it is to connect regions from North to South. This created the disgraceful situation of the journey from your superb capital Belgrade to Budapest taking many hours to complete. In the 21st century, we need to recognise that this is not normal. We have entered into partnership with your President Vučić to change this situation. And, Dear Friends, we have changed it. This is the proof. We are connecting our two countries, we are connecting the two capitals, and we are making life easier for Serbs and Hungarians. Hungarians and Serbs are two ancient peoples which share a long and difficult history; but as a result of the cooperation with your President, these two peoples now stand close to each other. Never before has the friendship between Serbs and Hungarians been as firm and close as it is now. And today is proof that together we will do fantastic things. It is true that we are a little behind you, that you were more skilful and that you made faster progress. But here I would also like to promise you that by 2025 this railway line will be operational between Belgrade and Budapest.

It would not be right for me to remain silent on the difficulties. Even if we do not talk about it, the war taking place on Hungary’s eastern borders is in the air, and in the minds and hearts of us all. I must say that for us it has come at the worst time. Of course there is never a good time for a war, and the best war is always the one you can avoid. But this has presented us with a serious challenge, because we have been making such good progress, starting with such great momentum and so many good plans. Now, however, the world has become uncertain, and we need to rethink very many things. Serbs and Hungarians need to rethink many things. I also confess to hoping that, after the coming elections, President Vučić and I will have a role in this process of rethinking. I wish the President every success!

And, whatever difficulties may come, I promise you that we shall preserve Serbian-Hungarian friendship, and we shall preserve peace. Peace builds, but war destroys. We want peace, and – despite the difficult circumstances – we will implement all our great plans together with your President.

God bless Serbia! God bless Serbian-Hungarian friendship! I wish you success and great victory!