STA, 19 November - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek appears unperturbed that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban decided to withdraw from the Koper-Divača rail project. She said on Monday that Hungary was interested in the project to get a piece of the Slovenian coast and that that would never have happened.
Bratušek said on Saturday, when the news about Orban's decision broke, that she had wanted to propose to the government to implement the major infrastructure project on its own anyway, but that she had been waiting for certain figures.
Speaking to the press today, the minister said that she had known for at least a month that the project would have a lower price tag without Hungary's involvement, but at the moment she was still uncertain by how much.
Under the previous government's plans, Hungary would invest EUR 200m in the EUR 1bn project seen as vital for the development of Slovenia's sole maritime port in Koper, but Bratušek has calculated since taking over as the minister that the project would be cheaper if Slovenia went at it alone.
"Hungary was promised certain returns as well as 50,000 square metres of land in long-term lease," she said today and added that "personally, I would have never proposed to the government to back Hungary's involvement under the conditions it had set".
The law governing the management of the rail project was adopted some time ago and has survived two referendums, but there are still several open issues. "The investment plan has not been hammered out to the point where the government could discuss it," Bratušek said.
Bratušek: Hungary focused on the Slovenian Sea
The minister believes that Hungary would have set additional terms for its collaboration: "Hungary is more interested in the Slovenian sea, a gateway into the world, than in the Divača-Koper project."
According to her, Orban explained his decision by saying that Hungary would get a bigger stake, potentially even a majority stake, in the port of Trieste. However, Bratušek would not allow "a single centimetre of the port of Koper to end in foreign hands" as long as she is minister.
"If this is the reason that [Hungary] will not be involved, then be it," she added and reiterated that Slovenia was able to build the second rail track connecting the Koper port and the inland hub in Divača on its own.
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