Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Central Europe fully backs Hungarian EU presidency enlargement policy

Central European countries fully support Hungary's policy of promoting the EU integration of Western Balkan countries during its EU presidency in the second half of the year, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign affairs and trade minister, said in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

Security must be reinforced and the European Union needs new vigour, and enlargement will be centre stage during Hungary’s presidency starting in July, he told a press conference after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the C5 format of the Central European countries, Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Integrating countries of the Western Balkans could energise the EU, and central European member states should take on special responsibility accordingly, a ministry statement quoted Szijjarto as saying. He added that whereas they openly and genuinely backed enlargement, others elsewhere merely gave the impression of doing so in public while actually blocking the process.

Genuine supporters, he said, were in the minority, and so he urged central European countries to join forces and “promote the cause”. He said all sides at the meeting supported Hungary’s related goals.

Szijjarto noted that the five Western Balkan countries had been waiting to join the EU “for 14 years and 10 months on average”. “This shows the real attitude of the community,” he said, and pledged that Hungary would “work to change that vigourously”. “We Hungarians will do everything to bring the Western Balkan countries closer to the European Union,” he said.

On the subject of restoring security, Szijjarto called for increased efforts to stop illegal immigration, and said its causes should be dealt with in the countries of origin, while protection of the external borders should be intensified “just as Hungary has done”.

He said the Hungarian government considered border violations as attacks against the country’s sovereignty, adding that rounding up people smuggling gangs was crucial. “Criminals and migrants have fired shots at border guards on several occasions, which is completely unacceptable… We do not need such people in the EU,” he said.

The minister said pull factors of illegal migration should be reduced, adding that mandatory distribution quotas “act in just that way”.

Answering a question, Szijjarto confirmed the government’s support for any initiative aimed at freeing hostages held in Gaza, including a Hungarian national.

The success of Israel’s anti-terrorism operation, he said, was of global importance, but “saving the civilians should also be an important aspect.”

Regarding Ukraine, he mentioned that over one million refugees had crossed into Hungary since the outbreak of the war. He said “neither side can win on the battlefield” and the armed conflict could only be resolved through negotiations; “the question remains when, and it would be sooner than later.” “The sooner there is a ceasefire and peace talks, the fewer people will die and destruction will be less detrimental.”

Leave a Reply