Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, met with Serbian EU integration minister Jadranka Joksimović in Budapest on Wednesday. The minister said the European Union cannot be strong without enlargement and “there is no enlargement without Serbia”.
According to MTI, the minister said the coronavirus pandemic has “turned our lives upside down” and sharpened the debate on the EU’s future. The integration of the Western Balkans is key to a strong EU, he said, adding that Serbia is one of the most important players in the region and must be involved in the EU’s further enlargement. European integration is imperative to maintaining “peace and quiet” in the region, he said. “We ask our Western friends with great respect to stop blocking the enlargement process. Of course, their answer is that they are doing no such thing. That is true as far as words go, but when it comes to deeds, positive decisions somehow never come,” Minister Szijjártó said. Empty promises point to an “unacceptable” lack of respect, he said.
The minister added that Serbia is ready to open 11 chapters of the accession procedure, and has Hungary’s support for launching it. The Western Balkans will play an even greater role in the aftermath of the “total failure in Afghanistan,” Minister Szijjártó said. The withdrawal of troops means a great risk of migration for Europe as migrants can reach Turkey “basically without difficulty, and the region [of the EU] is only one step further from there.” Hungary continues to support the protection of Serbia’s southern border with a twenty-strong unit, he said.
Hungary and Serbia are also launching a joint Western Balkans capacity development program, with Hungary opening a Széchenyi Programme office in Belgrade, he said. Talks are ongoing about Serbia joining the International Investment Bank, an international bank headquartered in Budapest, he said.