The Slovenia Times

Warnings against involving Hungary in rail expansion


The emergency session of the opposition-controlled commission was called by the Left to argue against including foreign capital in the railway expansion, which is seen as vital to the development of Slovenia's sole maritime port.

"We claim that the inclusion of Hungary is not only harmful, it is unnecessary," Left MP Matej T. Vatovec said.

According to the Left, Hungary's EUR 200m investment would be detrimental to Slovenia, because Hungary would get a share in profits, while the costs for 2TDK, the company running the project, would fall on Slovenia.

Referring to media reports that the government was willing to give Hungary land next to the port for its contribution, Vatovec stressed that this would mean direct competition for port operator Luka Koper. The state will block its own port's development, he added.

His claims were rejected by Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Jure Leben, who noted that the government had not started official negotiations yet.

"Informal talks did not revolve around opening the concession agreement, any sort of renting in the concession area or any kind of activities that would present competition to Luka Koper, about direct access to sea or ownership in the infrastructure," Leben stressed before calling for the session to be closed to the public so he could unveil in greater detail the initiative for negotiations.

Leben was backed by Igor Zorčič, an MP for the ruling Modern Centre Party (SMC), who accused the Left of repeating the arguments it had used in the campaign before a referendum on the rail expansion. "And we know how that ended," he added in reference to the proponents failure to defeat the law managing the expansion.

A number of other individuals invited to the session also warned against Hungary's inclusion in the project.

Peter Majcen of the KS 90 trade union confederation said that while Hungarian businesses had been Luka Koper's partner for years, "the way in which we're virtually inviting a foreign master into our home is incomprehensible".

The chair of Luka Koper's works council, Mirko Slosar, added that the government would not have been successful in the referendum had the question read whether to sell land to Hungarians.

Meanwhile, Metod Dragonja, the boss of 2TDK, said that excluding Hungary from the EUR 1bn project would not only lead to Slovenia having to secure another EUR 200m, it would also have to return the EUR 109m in grant money from then European Commission.

The commission agreed to call on the government to stop talks with Hungary until the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee backs the initiative for talks and to unveil a plan for constructing the second rail track to the port in Koper without Hungary's involvement within seven days.


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