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Szijjarto: EU in ‘worse form than 5 years ago, needs new leadership’

The European Union is in a worse shape than it was five years ago; its public security and competitiveness have much deteriorated, therefore the community's leadership must be replaced," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said at an event held at the British Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on Wednesday.

According to a statement from the foreign ministry, Szijjarto told a panel discussion that one of the top priorities of Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency is promoting the Western Balkans’ European integration. He said the difference between peace and unrest in the region was tangible which is why it would be important to move the process ahead. He noted that the five EU candidate members had been “waiting for an average 14 years and 11 months, which strongly undermines the creditability of the EU’s enlargement policy”. The new members could “lend new momentum and fresh energy to stop the decline,” he said.

The other two main priorities for the Hungarian presidency will be taking action against illegal migration, and improving the competitiveness of the community, Szijjarto said. Concerning the latter, he said “China has now taken over the second place in the list of leading economies globally, and Beijing and Washington pursue a protectionist policy”.

Concerning international criticism levelled against the Hungarian government, Szijjarto said it was rooted in Brussels’ and the international liberal mainstream’s inability to swallow that there is a distinct, patriotic government that goes against the mainstream and still it is successful, and supported by the people. The liberal mainstream he said considered itself as the representative of the only successful way for progress – which is contradicted by the mere existence of the Hungarian government. Szijjarto said that the critical positions were based on “biased reports” while in fact neither the freedom of the press nor judicial independence was in any kind of danger.

Szijjarto expressed regret over Brexit, saying that “a representative of common sense” had exited the community and the dispute between sovereigntists and federalists had as a result become imbalanced.

Asked about Hungary-Russia ties, Szijjarto said the Hungarian government would continue its cooperation with Russia in areas not affected by EU sanctions. He said the transatlantic world was “hypocritical”, adding that Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant expansion project was being implemented by American, German, and French companies apart from the Russian general contractor. The minister added that pressure on Hungary was continuous to prevent it from buying nuclear fuel from Russia, while last year Russia was the number one supplier of uranium to the US.

“It is easy to say that Szijjarto is Lavrov’s friend, Orban meets Putin, and you Hungarians are traitors and Kremlin propagandists, but if we look behind the scene it can be seen that those accusing us do much bigger businesses with the Russians than we do,” Szijjarto said.

Hungary condemns the war in Ukraine in the most resolute terms and finds attacking a sovereign country unacceptable, the minister said, adding that “why have I been so far the only European politician to say that directly, openly, and honestly to the Russians in Russia?”.

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