Minister: Hungary ‘doing everything’ to preserve stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina
At a joint press conference held with Elmedin Konakovic, his Bosnian counterpart, Szijjarto said “Europe does not need another security challenge, and the Western Balkans’ peace and stability is crucial.”
The Hungarian government is a committed supporter of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union integration and is helping the process with experts, Szijjarto said. He insisted that “the growth potential of the EU is exclusively in the Western Balkans, geographically and economically, therefore the community needs the region more than vice versa.” He called on “our friends in western Europe and Brussels bureaucrats to stop hindering enlargement of the EU and put an end to the hypocrisy.”
“We have had enough of some member states and Brussels bureaucrats supporting enlargement in public and then … when we are behind closed doors they will oppose it,” he said.
Szijjarto noted that Hungary had 164 troops in the UN’s peace keeping mission in Bosnia, adding that the government had earmarked 800,000 dollars for defence development in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from the funds originally intended to finance Afghanistan’s army.
Hungary is also active in supporting the local economy, Szijjarto said, adding that farmers in the Bosnian Serb Republic had benefitted from grants amounting to 11 million euros to buy machinery produced in Hungary. He also added that the second stage of that programme, financed from 17 million euros, was under way.
Concerning bilateral ties, Szijjarto said Hungary’s exports to Bosnia and Herzegovina had reached a record 460 million euros in 2022, and the turnover of trade exceeded 600 million euros. Hungarian companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina are active in the modernisation of the energy system, in renewable energy projects, in air traffice and water management, he added.
Szijjarto regretted that “the principle of mutual respect” was “disappearing” in the international arena, and insisted that a lack of such respect was obvious in “policies against the Western Balkans” because “in many cases we talks about the Western Balkans but rarely do our colleagues talk with that region.”
Assistance to the Western Balkans could be most effective “if there is a continuous dialogue with their elected leaders, if we respect the will of local people and it is not sending messages and threatening sanctions,” he insisted.