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Szijjarto: EU in need of ‘rational reforms’, with enlargement a priority

The European Union is in need of "rational reforms" and must view enlargement as a priority, as the integration of the Western Balkans would strengthen the bloc considerably, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the Strategic Forum, held at Lake Bled, Slovenia, on Tuesday.
29. August 2023 17:23

Szijjarto told a panel discussion that the EU was “in bad shape”, with its security, economy and energy supplies weakened. The situation was, he said, the result of “a series of failed measures and a lack of action.”

Regarding security measures, Szijjarto said that while the EU usually urged peace talks in remote conflicts, now they had chosen a different path. “If someone stands up for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks, they are condemned and branded Russian spies, pro-Kremlin propagandists and friends of Putin,” he said.

Meanwhile, the EU’s share of the world’s GDP has slipped from 22 percent in 2010 to 17 percent today, he said. At the same time, China’s slice of that pie has grown from 9 percent to 18 percent, he added.

He slammed the notion of “risk control” by severing economic ties with China. The risk would be to cut Europe off from a rapidly growing economy instead of cooperating with it, Szijjarto said. Economic cooperation with China could greatly contribute to economic growth, he added.

On the matter of energy security, Szijjarto said ensuring energy supplies must be handled as a “purely physical” matter rather than an ideological, dogmatic or political one.

The minister said the EU’s enlargement was key to resolving to all three issues. Referring to European Council President Charles Michel’s recent statement that the EU and the Western Balkans should be “prepared” for accession by 2030, Szijjarto said the same could be undertaken “tomorrow”.

The EU would become “bigger and stronger”, with a greater room for economic cooperation, he said. Enlargement would also embrace the most important transit route for fossil fuels, he said.

Reforms must be rational and based on common sense, with enlargement top of the agenda, enacted as soon as possible, he said.

He said it was “shameful” that Bulgaria and Romania were still not members of the Schengen Area.


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