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Albania to have Hungary’s full support in EU integration process

Hungary will give Albania all the support it needs in order to successfully complete its European Union integration, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday, adding that the government will focus on advancing the EU's enlargement during its upcoming EU presidency.
12. March 2024 18:27

Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of the year will come at a time when the continent is faced with serious challenges, as the world is in “an era of dangers”, Szijjarto said at a joint press conference with is Albanian counterpart Igli Hasani, according to ministry statement.

“There’s a war on the continent, the EU’s competitiveness continues to deteriorate, and the mood in the European Union isn’t the best, either,” Szijjarto said. “That’s why some freshness, momentum and new energy would be needed.”

“It’s also clear that we can only get this freshness, new momentum and energy from somewhere outside the bloc . and that’s clearly the Western Balkans, whose countries have long been preparing to be granted EU membership,” he added.

Szijjarto said advancing EU enlargement will therefore be a priority of Hungary’s EU presidency.

“We don’t want to foster any naive illusions . but this struggle will be a tough one, because in contrast to their public positions, many member states are actually against enlargement,” Szijjarto said. He said this was evidenced by the fact that Albania had applied for membership in 2009, was granted candidate country status in 2014, but the actual accession talks had not even started yet.

He said Tirana had done “a lot” to prepare for EU membership, and all conditions for opening meaningful negotiations were in place.

“We consider any further delays dangerous from a European perspective, because the more we delay, the more credibility the EU loses in the Western Balkans,” the minister warned.

He said there were more players looking to increase its influence in the region, and it would therefore be crucial for the EU to make use of its competitive advantage that this was the community the Western Balkan countries would prefer to be integrated with.

Szijjarto added that Hungary was giving Albania all the help it needed, noting that the government has sent two ambassador-rank integration experts to Tirana. Also, an agreement has been reached on providing training to Albanian experts at the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy, and on offering scholarships to 20 Albanian university students each year, he said.

Szijjarto welcomed that “bilateral economic cooperation has entered a new dimension”, with Albania having become a main destination of Hungarian capital in the Western Balkans. Bilateral trade turnover reached a record 130 million euros last year, and Hungarian businesses have also become market leaders in the country’s strategic sectors, he said.

He noted that a Hungarian company has become a leader in Albania’s mobile communications market, OTP Bank is the third biggest entity in the banking sector, and Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air is the country’s leading airline with a 51 percent market share.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way to build a photovoltaic power plant with Hungarian government support, Szijjarto said.

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