Minister of European Affairs János Bóka held a bilateral meeting in Vienna on Tuesday with Karoline Edtstadler, Federal Minister for the EU and the Constitution at the Austrian Federal Chancellery. The topics of conversation were illegal immigration, EU enlargement, strengthening the competitiveness of the EU and the situation in the Middle East.
At the press conference following the meeting, János Bóka said that EU competitiveness would also be a key priority on the Hungarian presidency’s agenda next year, as the country takes over the presidency of the Council of the EU. All other priorities must flow from this central goal and in this endeavor Austria has been a reliable partner, he said.
The minister stressed that the Hungarian position on the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkan countries has always been clear.
If half of the EU were as inventive in speeding up the process as in slowing it down, these Western Balkan states would have been members of the EU for a long time.”
Concerning Ukraine’s accession, he added, Hungary’s position is based on the principle that a strategic debate must take place before a decision is taken, and that this debate must be “open and frank.” A position must be taken on whether EU security is strengthened or weakened by opening accession negotiations with a country at war with a neighboring nuclear power, as well as on the objective of the accession process. enlargement.
Regarding illegal immigration, János Bóka stressed that this is a European problem and that a European solution must therefore be found. “Ideally, a consensual solution would be needed, based on the principle that it is we, and not the migrant smuggling networks, who should decide who to let into the EU,” he stressed.
The minister believes that the migration pact will not be a major step forward in this regard, which is why member states are looking for options outside the pact.
An example of this is the agreement between Austria, Hungary and Serbia, which has already produced “tangible” results.
Regarding the situation in the Middle East, Bóka said Hungary wants the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, including Hungarian citizens, in order to avoid regional escalation and ensure that Israel can effectively exercise its right of self-defense .
The minister stressed that the Hungarian Presidency is preparing to cooperate with Austria and all EU member states in a spirit of loyal cooperation, as an honest and impartial mediator, keeping European interests in mind.
In response to a question, he stressed that the fight against illegal immigration, in particular the protection of external borders, is among the priorities of the Hungarian Presidency.
Karoline Edstadler stressed that the meeting with Bóka was “open and frank”. The two neighboring countries enjoy close economic ties, with Austria being Hungary’s third largest trading partner and one of its largest investors. Some 1,400 Austrian companies are active in Hungary and employ 70,000 people, she said.
She stressed that the two countries have a long history of fruitful cooperation.
Although there are some points of disagreement, the EU is a democracy and it is important to exchange views and find solutions to differences.
She also stressed that the two countries are on the same side on the issue of illegal immigration.