PM Orbán: Hungary supports Moldova’s EU membership unconditionally

Moldova signed the association agreement with the EU eight years ago, which PM Orbán called a “painfully long time”.

After talks with Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean in Budapest on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Hungary supports Moldova’s European Union membership unconditionally.

PM Orbán told a joint press conference with Recean that besides the advantages of membership for Moldova, “the EU would also benefit from new energy, from countries known to be inhabited by balanced, stable and hard-working people." Moldova signed the association agreement with the EU eight years ago, which PM Orbán called a “painfully long time”. He added that he hoped they could “recover some of the lost time by speeding up the accession talks”. Hungary would also benefit from a tariff exemption between Moldova and the EU, Orbán said. Hungary is also working to re-establish direct flights between the two countries. The prime minister said relations were untrammelled by any unresolved disputes, and each had a positive view of the other and sought cooperation. At the same time, the intensity and strength of diplomatic relations were not what they could be, he added, so the purpose of today’s meeting was to forge closer cooperation. PM Orbán said Moldova was “on a straight path” to European Union membership and Hungary understood the geopolitical environment that made its EU accession a matter of urgency. The prime minister offered to host a large number of students from Moldova at its diplomatic academy. The two countries have been in diplomatic relations for 32 years and signed a strategic partnership agreement four years ago, Orbán noted, adding that bilateral trade was worth 200 million dollars. “Our pharmaceutical exports are growing rapidly, our food exports are solid and we also have a presence in the banking sector and in aviation,” Orbán said. As both countries are energy importers, Orbán said, it was in the interest of both Hungary and Moldova that energy networks in central and south-eastern Europe should be as developed as possible, also in the areas of economic and military security, he said.

Speaking after a meeting with Moldovan Deputy Minister Vladimir Bolea, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said Hungary’s stance was clear: every potential candidate must be assessed individually and Hungary was a firm and unconditional supporter of Moldova’s EU membership which would “benefit the bloc and increase its competitiveness”. “We must not link the integration process of various countries to each other and we must not allow worse-performing countries to take others' integration hostage,” Szijjártó said. “Speeding up Mol.dova’s EU membership would help the EU to improve its competitiveness again” Hungary has always promoted the enlargement of the EU to the south-east, he said. “We are, as always, at the disposal of the Moldovan government, and will do everything in our power to speed up the integration process,” Szijjártó said. Low-cost airline Wizz Air is slated to restart its flight between Budapest and Chișinău, another step towards boosting bilateral economic cooperation, he added. Noting the strategic agreement the two countries concluded four years ago, Szijjártó welcomed that bilateral trade had reached and maintained a record 200 million euros. Hungarian exports of food products and pharmaceuticals have a prominent role in that growth, he said. Hungarian companies have exported grain worth more than 2 billion forints (EUR 5.2m) to Moldova, he said. Hungary also supports the extension of the tariff exemption agreement as a tool to further boost economic ties, he said. “We support that talks on maintaining long-term tariff exemptions should start as soon as possible,” he added. The trust of Hungarian companies towards Moldova is also supported by OTP Bank’s prominent role on the Moldovan financial market, he said. “The governments of Hungary and Moldova share a sense of special responsibility for protecting the national agriculture, and represent the interests of the Hungarian and Moldovan farmers respectively,” he said. Maintaining the ban on the imports of Ukrainian grain would protect the interests of farmers and the domestic markets, he said.