Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, emphasized that several European Union member states should abandon hypocrisy and deceiving candidate countries to expedite the enlargement process. He spoke on this issue at a joint press conference with his Montenegrin counterpart, Filip Ivanović, in Budapest on Thursday, 11 January. He went on to state that Hungary is committed to doing everything in its power to advance this agenda during its upcoming rotational presidency.
According to the ministry’s statement,
the Hungarian Foreign Minister underscored that one of the main priorities of Hungarian foreign policy remains the acceleration of Western Balkan integration.
Consequently, Hungary will dedicate particular attention to this goal during its current EU presidency.
Minister Szijjártó also pointed out the ongoing weakening of the European Union, highlighting its slip to the third position in the global gross domestic product (GDP) ranking last year. Additionally, he expressed concern about a trend of Brussels exhibiting a form of isolationist tendency rather than fostering collaboration. ‘The European Union requires new momentum, new energy, and new ambitions, and the Western Balkans can provide these. These countries possess the energy, momentum, and ambition that could greatly assist the European Union in regaining strength,’ he opined.
Szijjártó urged honesty on this matter, lamenting that some member states exhibit hypocrisy by publicly supporting enlargement but losing enthusiasm when concrete decisions need to be made. As an example, he pointed to Montenegro, which, despite having opened numerous accession chapters since 2012, initiated its application process in 2008 and has yet to conclude it by 2024. Expressing hope for significant progress in this area during the current year, Minister Szijjártó conveyed Hungary’s determination to work towards bringing Montenegro closer to EU accession during its presidency.
‘To expedite the enlargement and accession processes, genuine support from EU member states is crucial. They should abandon hypocrisy and deceiving candidate countries,’
Hungary, he emphasized, has been among the most vocal supporters of enlargement and will continue to be so. Highlighting bilateral economic relations, he noted the substantial contributions of Hungarian companies to the development of both countries, particularly underscoring the leadership roles of Hungarian firms in key sectors in Montenegro. The Minister also highlighted the presence of OTP as the largest bank and 4iG as the second-largest telecommunications company in the country. Furthermore, Minister Szijjártó touched upon the educational ties between the two nations, with 35 Montenegrin students annually studying at Hungarian universities on scholarships.
In addressing the geopolitical landscape, Minister Szijjártó stressed the pivotal nature of the year 2024, marked by highly consequential global elections, involving major powers such as the United States, the European Union, Russia, India, and the United Kingdom. He emphasized the potential for 2024 to usher in a global political turnaround, steering away from conflicts and senseless bloodshed toward peace and reconciliation.
‘Hungary, perhaps beyond its size and strength, can play a role in this significant political turnaround, as our country will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year,’ he added.
Source: Hungarian Conservative/KKM/MTI