Szijjarto calls for ‘equal preconditions’ for all countries to join EU
Following talks with Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka, Peter Szijjarto said the two parties had signed an EU integration cooperation agreement, under which Hungary would send two experts to Albania in a bid to help speed up that country’s “unacceptably slow” integration. Szijjarto said it was unacceptable that thirteen years had passed between Albania’s submitting its request to join the EU and the start of accession talks in 2022. “It is still not clear if actual talks about chapters in the integration process could start before the end of this year,” he said, adding that starting meaningful talks was the Hungarian government’s “clear expectation towards Brussels”.
Concerning proposals that Ukraine should be co-opted as an EU member in an expedited procedure, Szijjarto called it “extremely important” that “there should be no shortcuts, or fast lanes, but everybody should meet the same fair conditions within the same timeframe and the same expectations for all candidates”.
“Let us make it clear that a real achievement is required, and a clear set of criteria are needed that everybody must meet … such as in the area of the protection of ethnic minorities, where Ukraine still has a lot to do,” he said.
Szijjarto and his host also signed a water management cooperation agreement. Under the accord, Budapest’s waterworks will elaborate a management system for its counterpart in Tirana, while Hungary’s GEMTECH company will build a solar panel park in Albania worth 5 billion forints (EUR 13.36m), to which the Hungarian government will contribute 2.5 billion forints in a grant, the minister said.
Szijjarto highlighted the Western Balkans as an important market in focus under Hungary’s foreign economic strategy, where Hungarian investors “have been hugely successful”. Albania is an “excellent example” with Hungary’s telco 4iG, retail bank OTP and airline WizzAir being market leaders “in three extremely important sectors”.