Janos Boka – Photo: Facebook

EU affairs minister: Hungary presidency to ensure operational EU

Hungary will take over the EU presidency, and the task of ensuring that the European Union remains operational and capable of reacting to crises, at an extremely vulnerable time politically as well as in matters of security, Janos Boka, the minister for EU affairs, told a discussion with members of the press on Friday.

Hungary will fulfill the coordinating, representational and communication tasks entailed in the EU presidency after a European parliamentary election expected to bring “a full institutional reshuffle”, while stability will be fully in the hands of the European Council and the rotating presidency, Boka said.

The Ukraine-Russia war will continue to pose a security and political challenge and the situation in the Middle East will remain “fragile”, along with possible crises in mulptiple hotbeds of conflict in the far East and the Caucasus, he said.

Hungary will strive to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure the presidency is seen as a “neutral, fair mediator”, Boka said. It will also work to steer EU negotiations regarding the next five years in sectors the government sees as particularly important, such as competitiveness, security and defence, the common agricultural policy and demography, he said. Other focus points will include migration and cohesion policy, he added.

Compared with other member states, “Hungary’s presidency may be watched more carefully, and expectations will be higher … but we will meet those expectations,” he said.

Responding a question, Boka said Prime Minister Viktor Orban would attend “certain high-level protocol events of the presidency” such as the informal European Council meetings and summits of the European political community. “His role as an informal political mediator, a ‘broker’, will be much more important.”

Zoltan Kovacs, the state secretary for international relations and communication, who also serves as government commissioner for preparations of the presidency, said Hungary expected to hold some 220 events in the six months between July 1 and December 31. The Hungarian presidency has a 37 billion forint (EUR 95.8m) budget, he added.

The main venue will be Budapest’s Varkert Bazar, he said.

Meanwhile, Hungary will not change its stance on issues it sees markedly differently from western Europe “just because we are taking on the presidency,” he said.

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