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The Mathias Corvinus Collegium hosted a round table discussion on cooperation between the peoples of the Danube. As a shipping route, the Danube offers a natural trade route, but shipping faces many challenges, was said at the event called MCC Budapest Lectures.

All the countries of the Danube basin are essentially part of Germany's supply chain, but the aim is to improve trade between countries in the region. In the energy sector, for example, some new connections are becoming increasingly important, such as the gas pipeline from Serbia to the EU, but there are also other infrastructure developments, such as the Budapest-Belgrade railway line. The event aims to highlight the importance of cooperation between the Danube peoples and to highlight and find solutions to possible obstacles.

At the opening ceremony, Zoltán Szalai, Director General of Mathias Corvinus Collegium, said that the Danube is a very special river, as it connects ten countries from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, and on its journey of several thousand kilometers it also passes through four capitals. The Director General stressed although there are longer, wider, and wilder rivers than the Danube, there is no other with such a rich history. He also added that the Danube is not only part of Hungarians’ national identity but also of Romanians, Serbs, and Germans. It was also said that throughout history there have been many ideas on how the Danube peoples could cooperate, as the unique geopolitical features of the region have great potential.

The speaker was Mihai Sebe, Editor for the Romanian Journal of European Affairs and Head of Unit of the European Studies Unit at the European Institute of Romania (EIR) who was interviewed by Attila Demkó, security policy expert and Head of the Center for Geopolitics, MCC and Sándor Gallai, political scientist and Head of the School of Social Sciences and History, MCC.

The Romanian expert said that he has two main concerns regarding the Danube: on one hand, the Danube strategy should be designed in a way that can compete with climate change, and on the other hand, the issue of transport opportunities should be addressed, as for many years the countries along the Danube have not taken advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the river. According to Attila Demkó, the countries of the region are connected by millennia of common history, the road network, and the Danube, so the region still has a huge potential to be exploited. But there are also obstacles to cooperation, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war or the situation in Kosovo, he added. At the event, the experts agreed that despite the difficulties, it is worthwhile for the Danube countries to develop closer cooperation, as it can be beneficial only in the long run for the participating countries.