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Szijjarto: Hungary planning ‘real central European’ EU presidency

Hungary plans to focus during its upcoming European Union presidency on issues that are important to central Europe, such as the fight against migration, enlargement to the Western Balkans and energy security, the foreign minister said on Friday.
26. April 2024 18:46

Peter Szijjarto told a joint press conference with Czech counterpart Jan Lipavsky that the current visit was during an extremely difficult period when the world faces severe challenges, but this could hopefully strengthen the central European common experience because the countries of the region are most affected by the consequences of the war under way in their neighbourhood.

One of the main goals of the upcoming EU presidency is to stop the decline of the community, and the other is to pursue a real central European presidency, Szijjarto said. He added that the latter meant that Hungary would focus on issues that are important to central Europe.

Special attention will be paid to the success of the fight against illegal migration, speeding up EU enlargement in the western Balkans, and guaranteeing energy security, he said.

The dramatic effects of migration waves has been directly experienced in central Europe since 2015, and serious regional cooperation has been necessary to stop the flow of migrants, he added.

“Czech, Slovak and Polish police helped us and still help us at the southern borders of Hungary to keep outside the illegal migrants threatening Europe,” he said. “The continued joint efforts of four central European prime ministers have been necessary to keep the issue of quotas under control and not allow thousands or tens of thousands of illegal migrants to roam around uncontrollably,” he added.

Szijjarto said “we will continue to resist the pressure concerning quotas”.

Commenting on EU enlargement in the western Balkans, he said it was undeserving that candidates in the region had been waiting for accession for 14 years and 11 months, which he said undermined the credibility of EU policies.

“This is a situation that must be resolved, therefore the Hungarian presidency has a clear agenda to help the countries in the western Balkans to speed up the accession process,” he said.

He also talked about energy security, stating that both countries were planning nuclear developments and therefore they would continue to stand up against negative dsicrimination concerning nuclear energy in Brussels.

“Nuclear energy is a sustainable way of producing energy, it is a safe, environmentally friendly and cheap method for producing large amounts of electricity,” he said.

“It helps maintain and improve the competitiveness of central Europe, so we do not want to give it up, and we are ready to involve Czech companies in Hungarian nuclear development projects, and we are also in a good position for Hungarian companies to ensure their presence in the area of nuclear developments in the Czech Republic,” he added.

Commenting on Hungary-Czech cooperation, he said that Czechia was Hungary’s sixth largest trade partner and bilateral trade surpassed 14 billion euros last year, a record. Czechia is also the fourth most important target for Hungarian investments.

Szijjarto recalled that recently efforts have been made to create joint ventures in the transport and defence industries and that Hungarian oil and gas company MOL operates over 300 filling stations in Czechia.

He also said that Visegrad cooperation – between Hungary, Czechia, Poland and Slovakia – has always played and still plays an important role in the Hungarian foreign policy strategy.

“Visegrad cooperation contributes to improving central Europe’s competitiveness and security, and it brings all of us closer to fulfilling our national goals,” he added.

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