Hungary wishes to have strategic cooperation with Croatia and deal with problems through direct talks rather than through the media, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

I look at our relations as strategic relations. We were not pleased with our bilateral relations during the term of the previous Croatian government. Remember that the former prime minister (Zoran Milanovic) compared Hungary to the grimmest dictatorship in the last century, which was something that we could not accept and we dismissed it. We have a much better cooperation with the new government, we do not accuse each other and we have agreed to try and resolve our disputes and possible conflicts, but not in public. We will first talk directly and try to reach an agreement because it makes no sense to communicate through the media and not personally. Communication through the media can only further aggravate our bilateral relations, which is something we would like to avoid, the Hungarian foreign ministers told a group of Croatian reporters on the margins of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac, who was also attending the NATO meeting, was asked to comment on Szijjarto's statement.

We have mended our relations with our Hungarian neighbours. Today our relations are normal, we have normal communication. Croatia has its national interests, it has its interests in INA, and the Hungarians have their own national interests. I am confident that we will find a solution for INA, but not through the media and not in public, but in direct talks between the two governments. As for the arbitration on relations between INA and MOL, it is continuing, Kovac said.

Szijjarto also spoke of the two oil and gas companies.

MOL is a strategic Hungarian company, one of the largest, and it is very important to us that MOL has a fair treatment of countries in which it is active. What we expect in this case is that Croatia respects international and national laws, but I do not wish to go deeper into this because that is a matter of the relationship between the two companies and I do not want to aggravate the situation further. I wish to emphasise that it is in our interest to have constructive and strategic cooperation with Croatia. It was not accidental, but a matter of principle, that we had done a lot for Croatia to enter the EU and in this case we do not understand why some politicians are trying to deepen the problems between the two countries, Szijjarto said.

When asked who he had agreed with not to deal with the problems through the media and whether such a deal had been made with HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko before the elections in Croatia, Szijjarto said that the meeting was based on party affiliation.

The meeting with Tomislav Karamarko and Miro Kovac last summer was based on party affiliation. We belong to the same political group, the European People's Party (EPP) and it is only natural that we meet. On that occasion we discussed general cooperation between the two countries and shared the view that it was unacceptable that our relations were so poor, the Hungarian foreign minister said, noting that relations between the two countries were now better and that Kovac had chosen Hungary as one of his first destinations at the start of his office.

We agreed then that we would try to talk as much as possible in order to settle our conflicts and I think that is a normal way. I understand that there are certain lobbies and interest groups, possibly in Croatia as well, who want our bilateral relations to be bad, but rest assured that we do not want to serve their interests, Szijjarto said.

Asked to comment on a possibility of MOL losing the arbitration case, Szijjarto said that it was a hypothetical question and there was no point in answering it. When explicitly asked if he was in favour of the arbitration proceedings being suspended, he said: I think any comment on my part would be harmful.

Szijjarto also declined to comment on relations within the Croatian government regarding the INA-MOL issue.

You can be sure that we never interfere in Croatia's internal affairs, he said, adding that as a partner from the EPP he hopes that the government will remain stable.

We want Croatia to be stable and strong, and in order for a country to be stable and strong, it must have a stable government, which is why we will keep our fingers crossed for the Croatian government, Szijjarto said.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.