The Slovenia Times

Orban says Hungary not to participate in Koper-Divača project


As reported by the Hungarian press agency MTI, Orban made the announcement about abandoning the plan under which Hungary would chip in EUR 200m for the project as he addressed a conference of the Hungarian diaspora on Friday.

The MIT quoted Orban as saying that the country had already started talks with the port of Trieste in Italy, located some 15 kilometres north of Koper.

The Hungarian prime minister said that the country would negotiate with the port, which is managed by port administration which leases the port infrastructure to logistics companies, about the access to the infrastructure and investment opportunities for Hungarian companies.

Orban has obviously buried the idea about Hungary's involvement even before the new Slovenian government decided whether to continue the talks with the eastern landlocked neighbour.

The talks were started with the previous government of Miro Cerar, facing criticism from some political parties and part of the public.

New Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said on several occasions that Slovenia could build the new Koper-Divača line on its own, but would not oppose to the participation of a partner country if it brought an added value.

"We haven't ruled out cooperation with Hungary yet, but we'll be the one to set conditions, to the Hungarians or anyone else," Bratušek recently told the STA. She would also like to check whether any other country is willing to take part.

As some countries other than Hungary have signed a letter of support for the project, the minister said she wanted the government to decide on the participation in the project by the end of the year.

Cerar, who now serves as foreign minister, said today as the coalition parties gathered for a meeting that he expected an answer to the question where the government would find the EUR 200m which would have been secured by Hungary.

"I intend to raise this question with all seriousness at today's meeting," he said, adding that the financing plan for the project had been closed and that it had seemed that it could be carried out safely and without unpleasant surprises.

According to Cerar, Hungary has lost patience because of some rushed and unnecessary statements. The port of Koper is of strategic importance for Hungary, and Slovenia would have profited greatly from the cooperation. "Now the opportunity has been missed."

Bratušek meanwhile said she was satisfied with Orban's announcement. "If we were building the Koper-Divača railway together with Hungary, the cost would be a few hundred million euros higher," she said as she arrived for the coalition meeting.

Bratušek assessed that Orban would never let a foreign investor into his country under the conditions Hungary had requested from Slovenia.

Asked about the financing of the project, the minister said that the financing plan was being prepared. It is not known yet whether the government will secure EUR 200m in additional capital or a part of it would be covered with borrowing, she said.


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