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Szijjarto calls on Brussels to ‘cease arrogance’ over Balkans

The European Union could suffer a setback similar to losing the United Kingdom unless it changes "its current arrogant attitude" regarding the EU integration of Western Balkan countries, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.

Szijjarto told the press during a break in a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels that Russia’s war with Ukraine should make it ever clearer that the EU needs the Western Balkans more than the other way round.

The EU integration of the Western Balkans is a vested interest for Hungary and a matter of national security, he said, adding that Hungary had always considered the southern part of central Europe as naturally belonging to the EU.

“Societies in the Western Balkans today are likely to prefer European integration to other directions, but we don’t know if this will remain the case tomorrow,” Szijjarto said.

“Serbia must, as soon as possible, be declared a key country” for maintaining stability, peace, and development in the region, Szijjarto said, adding that the country was “mature enough” to be integrated.

Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said “the rights and sensitivities of all three constituents of that state and its two entities should be respected, adding that imposing sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik would be “disastrous” both for Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The EU should instantly launch accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, while it should conclude all chapters of its talks with Montenegro, Szijjarto said, adding that it was “not fair” of the EU “to expect more from candidates than can be offered to them”. He insisted that “so far Brussels has not put anything on the scales, which is a huge problem”.

The minister said that unless the enlargement process were accelerated, the EU would suffer a “historic failure”. Unless the EU dropped its “arrogant attitude”, it would have to “write off the Western Balkans just as it has the United Kingdom”, Szijjarto said.

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