Photo: wikipedia

Montenegro prepared for EU accession, minister says

Hungary's government believes Montenegro is prepared for European Union membership, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said in Podgorica on Thursday, adding that the Western Balkan country's accession would give the bloc the fresh energy it needed amid the current difficulties.
14. March 2024 18:40

Speaking at a joint press conference with Filip Ivanovic, his Montenegrin counterpart, Szijjarto noted that Hungary was taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of the year, in a period when the bloc was facing severe economic and security challenges.

“These challenges have thrown the European Union into a negative spiral, from which it can only emerge if it receives a fresh boost of energy from outside,” he said, according to a ministry statement.

“This vital new energy can come from the ambitious, emerging, fast-growing states of the Western Balkans,” Szijjarto said. “Therefore Hungary’s main goal during its six-month presidency will be to speed up the enlargement process.”

Szijjarto said enlargement was “progressing at a snail’s pace”, which he mainly attributed to the fact that the majority of EU member states did not currently support the process, “and especially not its acceleration”.

The minister said that “while it may appear otherwise in public”, behind closed doors, “several member states are voicing their objections and concerns about enlargement.”

If this were not the case, he said, Montenegro would not be in the position of having been a candidate for membership for sixteen years and conducting accession talks for twelve, but still not having managed to close a single chapter.

Szijjarto said Hungary’s position on the matter was clear. “Montenegro is already prepared for EU accession, which would also greatly benefit the bloc,” he added.

“That is why the time has come to start closing the accession negotiation chapters with you,” he said, adding that the Hungarian government wanted to close the first chapters during its EU presidency.

“We believe there are up to ten accession chapters that have been sufficiently negotiated,” he said.

The minister noted that bilateral trade had expanded by 50 percent over ten years to close to a hundred million euros.

In addition, Hungarian companies have become market leaders in two key sectors in Montenegro as OTP Bank is the largest player in the local bank sector and 4iG has become the second largest telecom company.

Szijjarto said it was good news that Wizz Air was restarting the Podgorica-Budapest flight in April. He also noted that 35 Montenegrin students could study with scholarships at Hungarian universities every year, adding that this highly popular programme will be maintained in the future.

Leave a Reply