Željko Reiner i Laszlo Köver.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Croatia and Hungary need to resolve outstanding issues in a civilised manner, the two countries' Parliament Speakers Zeljko Reiner and Laszlo Kover said in Zagreb on Thursday without explicitly mentioning the INA-MOL dispute.

Two disputes between Croatia and Hungary's gas and oil giant MOL regarding their relations in Croatia's INA company are being tackled in two international arbitration proceedings.

The relations between the two neighbours were additionally strained during the term of the former Croatian centre-left government and when last year Hungary built a fence on the border with Croatia in a bid to stop the migrant wave.

"There are certain outstanding issues which, I am convinced, through a dialogue and good-will can be resolved to our mutual satisfaction," Reiner said during a joint press conference with his Hungarian counterpart Kover.

Kover, one of the founders of the Fides conservative party, underscored that a common past and national minorities obliged the two countries to resolve outstanding issues through dialogue.

"The elections in Croatia and European Union (EU) agenda need to open a new stage," Kover added and recalled that since the change of government in Croatia late last year, five centre-right ministers in the new government and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had visited Hungary.

The Hungarian official supported the Croatian Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative aimed at strengthening the impact of new EU member states in Brussels and develop infrastructure projects, particularly energy projects in central Europe.

That initiative is along the lines of the Visegrad Group which can serve as an example of the success of such cooperation, Kover said referring to the association of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

"Countries the size of Croatia and Hungary can only survive and progress in the EU if they find a way to jointly advocate their interests," Hungary's Parliament Speaker said.

Reiner said that Croatia was particularly interested in connecting with Hungary via the 5C corridor from Ploce Port across Sarajevo and Osijek to Budapest and the railway route from Rijeka to the Hungarian capital.

The two countries are closely cooperating in protecting national minorities, Reiner said, adding that he hoped the spokesman for the Croatian community in the Hungarian parliament would be given the right to vote just like the Hungarian delegate has in Croatia's Sabor. Hungary recently adopted a law on minorities enabling them to have their deputies in the national parliament but without the right to vote.

Reiner and Kover on Wednesday opened the Hungarian House in the eastern town of Vukovar and paid homage to all the victims in defence of that town during the 1990s war including 52 ethnic Hungarians. 

Before the war 10% of the population in that eastern Croatian town were ethnic Hungarians.

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