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Szijjarto: enlargement policy hampered by slow integration process in the Western Balkans

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The credibility of the European Union’s enlargement policy has been eroded by the slow integration process of the Western Balkans, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday, adding that it was in the interest of the EU to integrate the countries of the region. quickly.

At a joint press conference with Montenegrin Minister of European Affairs Maida Gorcevic, Szijjarto said the European Parliament elections opened the way for a change in “right-wing, pro-peace and sovereignist” political orientation, characterized by “common sense” in European political debates, while the EU could meet long-term challenges and halt its decline by integrating the “ambitious and rapidly developing” countries of the Western Balkans.

Today, he added, the EU needs the Western Balkans more than the other way around.

Referring to Montenegro, which submitted its membership application in 2008, he said the situation was similar for other countries in the region.

He pointed out that NATO had already admitted three countries from the Western Balkans. “If the Western Balkan countries can meet the expectations of trust required for entry into NATO, then their willingness and loyalty to join the European Union must not be questioned,” the minister said. .

While many EU member states publicly supported enlargement, he said it was a different matter behind closed doors, adding that Hungary, during its term as president of the European Council in the second half of the year, would redirect ” this hypocritical policy towards the motive of honesty”.

Szijjjarto said Montenegro was ready to join the EU and “deserves respect” for the progress it has made during its European and Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

An important goal would be for Montenegro to close as many accession chapters as possible during the Hungarian presidency, he said, adding that it would be realistic to conclude that ten such chapters could be concluded.

Two Hungarian integration experts are helping the Montenegrin government, he stressed.

Restoring the credibility of enlargement policy would involve evaluating each state on the basis of its own performance rather than comparing one state to another, he said, insisting that there should be no “no fast track” to bloc membership.

Involvement in war provides “no reason to accelerate” a country’s integration into the EU, he said.

At the same time, Szijjarto stressed that Hungarian companies like OTP and 4iG play “an important role” in Montenegro’s economy and facilitate the country’s progress towards EU membership.

He said Hungary’s economic interest was for Montenegro to join the EU as quickly as possible.

Asked about a possible visit by the Chinese president to Budapest, the minister noted that high-level visits would be justified by the fact that Hungary and China are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, and once the Once the established official route is finalized, an announcement would be made in coordination with China. “I cannot make such an announcement yet,” he added.

Szijjarto said discussions about “significant new Chinese investment” were underway, although other countries were also competing for them.

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