The foreign minister said the “unacceptably” slow integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union is a “strategic mistake” and a risk to regional stability.
In his opening speech at the Mostar International Fair on Tuesday, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, called for the process to be speeded up. “We who live in central Europe grasp the importance of the integration of the Western Balkans,” Minister Szijjártó said. “Unfortunately, some member states and EU institutions are yet to grasp that … it is time we sent a message to Brussels to get off their high horse,” he said. Minister Szijjártó called for EU cooperation with the democratically elected leaders of the region “rather than talking about them”.
The Hungarian government’s landslide victory last Sunday, securing Fidesz’s fourth consecutive term, justifies its foreign policy based on national interests and mutual respect, he said. Cooperation between Hungary and the Western Balkans, as well as Hungary’s steps to urge their speedy EU integration, are key points of that policy, he said. Serbia should be able to join immediately, and Bosnia and Herzegovina should receive candidate status, he said. “With an election win under our belt, we are going to represent that stance even more resolutely,” he said. Hungary’s trade with the states in the region came to a record 5.5 billion euros last year, he said. Minister Szijjártó arrived at the fair with a delegation of 24 Hungarian companies hoping to further strengthen ties with the region. He thanked organizers for naming Hungary as partner of the fair, which runs from April 5 to 9.
Photo credit: Facebook/Szijjártó Péter