Janos Boka – Photo: Facebook

Boka: Political responsibility gives meaning to Hungary’s EU presidency

Political responsibility is what gives meaning to Hungary's EU presidency, as the key priorities of the bloc's next five years can be set during this period, Janos Boka, the EU affairs minister, said on Thursday.

If Hungary’s EU presidency lives up to its responsibility, it will “do a great service to the EU as a whole”, Boka told current affairs channel M1, adding that this primarily lay in getting through the message expressed by voters in the European parliamentary elections.

“Hungary’s EU presidency acts in a politically responsible manner if it tables topics and generates debates on issues such as the bloc’s drifting towards the war in Ukraine, its economic policy undermining competitiveness and its failed migration policies, on which voters called for change,” Boka said.

He said the EU presidency had got off to a “flying start”, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban, since taking over the rotating presidency from his Belgian counterpart on July 1, had already met the President of the European Council, held talks with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky in Kyiv and received the Secretary-General of the Council.

Concerning the meeting between Orban and Zelensky, Boka said the prime minister had immediately reported on the discussions to the president of the European Council and to member states’ heads of state and government. He pointed out that the task of the presidency is limited to aiding the flow of information and channelling the opinions of the parties concerned into decision-making, but the decisions themselves must be taken by the leaders. “I believe that the Hungarian prime minister has done more for peace in the past 24 hours than European leaders have during the past twelve months,” Boka said. Hungary’s EU presidency, he added, could make proposals and suggestions concerning the European stance on the war, but decisions had to be taken by the bloc’s leaders.

The minister said the EU saw this war as its own and, besides military and financial support, communication also formed part of the war strategy.

“If we cannot talk about the war without that communication being part of warfare itself, then we are part of the problem and not the solution,” he said, adding that Viktor Orban wanted to change this approach by talking about working to resolve the war, and this could only be achieved by an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations based on it.

The prime minister and Zelensky agreed on a number of issues that require follow-up at the highest level, Boka said, adding that the possibility of another top-level meeting could be considered if both the Hungarian and the Ukrainian governments made progress in their tasks on these issues.

Boka also highlighted the informal European Council meeting in Budapest scheduled for November, where the goal will be to adopt a new European competitiveness pact marking the path by which the bloc can stop the decline of its economic competitiveness. The minister said the central priority of the Hungarian EU presidency is competitiveness and “if we succeed in adopting a declaration that puts economic policy at the service of growth and prosperity, then the EU may perhaps move under a more fortunate constellation in the next five years”.

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