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Neighbours to boost economic ties

Hungary, Austria and Slovakia agreed on January 25 to boost economic cooperation, the three countries' leaders said after a trilateral summit in the western Hungarian city of Sopron.
"We agreed to hold an economic symposium in Györ (north Hungary), probably in September," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a news conference held jointly with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klíma and Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda.


Austrian Chancellor Voktor Klíma (right) explains the benefits of regional economic cooperation to a captive audience - Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda (centre) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
TASR

Hungary, Austria and Slovakia agreed on January 25 to boost economic cooperation, the three countries' leaders said after a trilateral summit in the western Hungarian city of Sopron.

"We agreed to hold an economic symposium in Györ (north Hungary), probably in September," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a news conference held jointly with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klíma and Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda.

Orbán added that there was further potential for sub-regional economic cooperation between the three countries, and said that the core of the joint economic development should be the Vienna-Bratislava-Györ triangle.

Klíma warned that due to the Asian, Russian and Brazilian crises, the European Union had to face the prospect of slower-than-expected economic growth this year. "Due to the south-east Asian, Russian and Brazilian crisis, growth in the EU will fall back to around 2.1%," Klíma said. "We also had to cut back our (Austria's) growth prospects for this year from the 3.1% we expected last summer, to 2.4%."

The three leaders agreed that since the government change last September, Slovakia had made important steps towards European integration. Dzurinda expressed his hope that Slovakia would be invited this year to start concrete accession negotiations with the EU.

"We hope that the steps our government took so far...would lead to Slovakia's being invited for concrete accesion talks in 1999," he said.

Klíma, while stressing that Austria supported Slovakia's ambitions, was more cautious.

"I hope that the (EU's) Helsinki summit will result in a suitable decision (for Slovakia)," he said.

Orbán said that the new Slovak government had also made significant progress in improving the Hungarian minority's situation. "The present Slovak government took, with exemplary alacrity, decisions to solve old problems," he said.

The rights of the sizeable Hungarian minorities in Slovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia are of permanent concern for Hungary, and in the past often marred relations with its neighbours. The three leaders agreed to hold the next summit in Bratislava but gave no date for the meeting.

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