FM: Speeding up Georgia's EU accession is goal of Hungary's presidency

The foreign minister said Georgia is an important partner when it comes to overcoming the challenges faced by Europe.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the Hungarian government will do everything possible during the Hungarian European Union presidency to get accession talks with Georgia up and running so that the country can join the bloc as soon as possible.

During a joint press conference with Georgian counterpart Ilia Darchiashvili in Budapest, the foreign minister said Georgia is an important partner when it comes to overcoming the challenges faced by Europe. Minister Szijjártó said Georgia understood and supported neighbourhood policy based on peace and stability and could also be a key player in ensuring the success of Europe’s future energy diversification. He also highlighted the country’s commitment to European integration. One of the reasons for Darchiashvili’s visit, he noted, was for Hungary and Georgia to look ahead to Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of the year, “which comes at a time when the bloc is in particularly poor shape”. “Our goal is to strengthen the European Union and break the spiral that is leaving the EU in worse and worse shape,” he said. Szijjártó said the best way to do this was to enlarge the bloc, arguing that the EU needed new momentum, freshness and dynamism, which could be provided by countries still fighting for membership. “Georgia is one such country,” he said, noting that the economic growth seen in the country recently would be certain to contribute to improving the EU’s competitiveness. Szijjártó said Hungary had firmly backed the EU’s decision to grant Georgia candidate country status last December. “This was the right decision, and it partly made up for the earlier unfair decision to deny Georgia candidate country status when it was granted to Ukraine,” he said. During its EU presidency, Hungary will help Georgia ensure that the accession process is completed swiftly, he said, adding that this could benefit not just Georgia but the EU as well.

Minister Szijjártó noted that 16 Hungarian experts were part of the EU’s monitoring mission in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, aimed at preventing the renewal of an armed conflict, adding that the government will maintain this contribution to the mission. As regards energy security, Szijjártó said the Caucasus region could be a key contributor to Europe’s energy supply, given the region’s potential in sustainable energy production. He said an agreement between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary and Romania to import green energy to Europe, derived mainly from wind power, will enter into effect on Monday. “This would be a joint project of historic importance, as there isn’t a 1,200km underwater cable anywhere else in the world,” Szijjártó said. A joint venture of four countries’ energy companies is being set up, and the tender for the feasibility study has also been concluded, he said. Meanwhile, Szijjártó welcomed trade turnover between Hungary and Georgia reaching a record high in 2022, noting it has grown 3.5-fold since 2010. Also, the two countries have concluded negotiations on an investment protection agreement which will be signed once it is approved by the European Commission, Szijjártó said.