Committee backs Koper rail project talks with Hungary

Ljubljana – The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee gave the Infrastructure Ministry the green light to launch negotiations with Hungary on the neighbouring country’s participation in the Koper-Divača rail investment, the committee’s chair Monika Gregorčič told the press after Wednesday’s closed-door session.

“The resolution was adopted. The debate was quite brief, an Infrastructure Ministry representative responded to all the questions related to the content, while the matter remains, as expected, on the opposite sides,” said Gregorčič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC).

The left-leaning opposition MPs and the coalition remain divided on Hungary’s participation in Slovenia’s largest infrastructure project, worth around a billion euro.

The negotiating blueprint is not public, hence today’s closed-door session. But a document obtained by the STA says Hungary would join the project as a partner by contributing EUR 200 million to 2TDK, the Slovenian company tasked with carrying out the investment.

Profit would be paid out only when the second rail line between Koper and Divača is launched, expectedly in 2027.

Return on Hungary’s equity would not be guaranteed, while the annual profit paid out would have to be below 3% of TDK2’s share capital.

In exchange for the capital injection, Slovenia would help Hungary get a piece of land in the port operator Luka Koper or next to it, says the unofficial blueprint.

Gregorčič said today’s resolution was not a legal basis for “some binding action”, it was merely a green light to start talks on the basis of the negotiating blueprint.

She did not discuss the result of today’s vote, saying it was a piece of “internal” data, just like the initiative to conclude the relevant Slovenia-Hungary agreement.

However, even before the session was closed to public, there were “procedural proposals” to withdraw the item from the agenda and to remove the “internal” label.

She said these proposals had not been put to vote because they were not in line with the parliament’s rules of procedure and the classified information act.

Last week, the initiative for Slovenia to reach the agreement with Hungary was discussed by the parliamentary Public Finance Commission.

At the session, the opposition SAB, Left, LMŠ and SD urged the government not to renounce strategic infrastructure.

Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec and coalition MPs meanwhile said there would be no Luka Koper’s development without participation of inland countries.

Opposition to Hungary’s participation has recently also been expressed by a Luka Koper trade union, which argues the port operator lacks areas for its own business, so selling land to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is absurd.