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Mar 30, 2016

We must be open to new alliances and partnerships

“Europe is facing extremely serious security challenges and isolating ourselves is not a good solution at such times; both the European Union and NATO must be open to new alliances and partnerships”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest following negotiations with his Georgian counterpart.

At the press conference following the meeting, Mr. Szijjártó stressed that that Georgia is ready to move up to the next step with regard to both EU and NATO integration, and Hungary is supporting Georgia in these endeavours. Europe has not had to face such serious security challenges since the end of the Second World War and accordingly it is clear that the European and Trans-Atlantic security structure must be reinforced. One very important element of this must be that those countries who are prepared to become members of these structures should be allowed to join, the minister explained. It is extremely important that we now recognise that “the more we are, the stronger we are”, and the current challenges cannot cause reluctance with regard to expansion”, he declared.

These security challenges are yet another argument in favour of EU and NATO expansion, alliances and friendships must be reinforced and “we must not make our friends uncertain”, Mr. Szijjártó said, pointing out that Hungary has always been a committed supported of Georgia’s EU and NATO integration and this is also in the interests of both the EU and the Trans-Atlantic Alliance.

According to the foreign minister, with regard to EU integration Georgia is ready for visa exemption and has successfully completed the visa liberalisation process, meaning it could be granted visa-free travel within the first six months. This could provide new impetus to the Eastern Partnership Programme as well as to trade relations, which have been moderate recently, he said.

At the NATO summit in Warsaw, Georgia should be invited to participate in the Alliance’s membership action programme, which is the anteroom to NATO membership, Mr. Szijjártó said.

With regard to bilateral relations, the Hungarian foreign minister said that Georgia was an important transit country both for shipping natural gas to Europe from the Caspian Sea and with regard to transport. Wizz Air will be establishing an air transport hub in the country, he told the press. Hungary and Georgia will be signing an investment protection agreement before the end of this year and Eximbank will be opening a 68 million US Dollar credit line to facilitate cooperation between Hungarian and Georgian enterprises, in addition to which negotiations are in progress regarding several projects within the framework of which Hungarian enterprises will be able to take part in Georgian development projects within the fields of construction and agricultural technologies, he announced.

Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikheil Janelidze stressed that Hungary has always been a close friend and reliable partner to Georgia, is supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity and has always voiced its support for the country’s EU and NATO integration. He welcomed the fact that several high-level visits have occurred between the two countries in recent years, noting that a high-level Hungarian delegation has also been invited to Georgia to mark the 25th anniversary of the country regaining its independence.

According to Mr. Janelidze, cooperation between the two countries is especially good within the fields of education and vocational training, the economy and cultural relations, in addition to which he welcomed the fact that Hungary is providing scholarships to Georgian university students. 

Furthermore, the Georgian Foreign Minister highlighted the assistance that Hungary has provided to help Georgia introduce the required reforms.

Mr. Janelidze also stressed opportunities to further tighten economic relations; Georgian businessmen travelling with the delegation are searching for opportunities to cooperate with prospective Hungarian partners.

Georgia remains a dependable partner to Europe with regard to energy supply; “Georgia is a European country in the eastern part of Europe”, the Georgian Foreign Minister emphasised. Europe is indeed facing serious challenges and the solution must lie in greater unity and in expansion. Georgia is standing by Europe and is ready to contribute to Europe’s security, he declared.