Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said a major objective of Hungary’s EU presidency in the second half of 2024 will be to move ahead with Romania’s integration with the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone unless progress is made on the matter before.
Following talks with Hunor Kelemen, the leader of the ethnic Hungarian RMDSZ party in Bucharest on Wednesday, Minister Szijjártó highlighted the strategic importance of the two countries’ bilateral cooperation, which he said rested on ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania and Szekler Land. The Hungarian government sees that community as a resource as well as a link in bilateral ties, Szijjártó said, pointing out the importance of listening to RMDSZ on issues concerning cooperation with Romania. Romania’s earliest possible Schengen integration is in Hungary’s national interest, partly because the neighboring country is Hungary’s second-largest export market, and bilateral economic and trade ties could be strengthened with its membership, the minister said. “Romania’s Schengen membership would allow that the border should connect rather than separate us,” Szijjártó said, noting that a potential “automatic” opening of ten new border crossings would also help the Transylvanian Hungarian community in maintaining relations with Hungary. “Unless Romania’s Schengen integration materialises sooner, one of the major objectives of the Hungarian EU presidency will be to help the process and Hungary will continue to run the closest possible consultation with RMDSZ on the matter,” Szijjártó added. He expressed hope for RMDSZ’s success at the four elections coming up in Romania next year. “RMDSZ’s strong representation in Bucharest is always helpful in developing Hungarian-Romanian relations,” Minister Szijjártó said.