Addressing a conference on Friday, Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said the Danube countries could only uphold sustainable regional development through cooperation.
Hungary considers the European Union’s strategy for the Danube region a key factor in central and eastern European political cooperation, Kövér said in his opening address to the 5th conference of lawmakers from the Danube countries in Parliament.
He said it was encouraging to see that policymakers, experts and residents of the Danube region were increasingly conscious about focused cooperation.
Hungary has contributed a number of initiatives to the Danube strategy, Kövér said.
“We have given coordinated responses to the shared challenges and we have been able to present results that are meaningful to the entire region.”
The speaker noted that the EU approved the Danube strategy during Hungary’s presidency in 2011. In 2014, Budapest hosted the second conference of Danube country deputies. Last year, Hungary was in charge of carrying out the presidential duties of the strategy and Budapest hosted the annual Danube strategy forum with several non-EU prime ministers in attendance, he added.
House Speaker of Hungary Kövér noted that in his opening address to last year’s forum, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had underlined the importance of allowing non-EU countries to join the strategy, as well as the need to increase funding for Danube region development projects.
Hungary is committed to the successful implementation of the strategy and has always considered the strategy’s most important goals as its own, Kövér said.
“Geography is stronger than any ideology,” Kövér said, emphasising the River Danube‘s role in both dividing and uniting the countries it flows through.
The speaker added that although the Danube countries all benefit from the river, they must also cooperate in protecting themselves from floods, preventing industrial accidents and responding to the river’s waste pollution.
The conference was attended by Serbia’s National Assembly President Maja Gojkovic, Slovenian Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Zidan, Ivo Bereka, the vice-president of the Czech senate and Hungarian Socialist Party MEP Tibor Szanyi, among others.
The participants adopted a joint declaration at the end of the event stating that lawmakers must play a more active role in fulfilling the targets of the Paris climate agreement and boosting public awareness of it. In the document, the conference’s participants welcomed steps by individual countries to adjust local efforts to sustainable development goals while encouraging parliaments to regularly debate governments’ progress reports on the national plan. Also national plans should fall in line with other national and regional strategies and trends, it added.
The participants noted in the joint declaration that regular consultations between parliaments, representatives of professional and business organisations and civil organisations effectively help support sustainable development and understanding its various aspects. The declaration added that MPs would observe scientific developments and regularly consult on them with the electorate.
It added that Romania’s parliament is ready to host the next conference of lawmakers from the Danube countries next year.
Kövér is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with his Serbian and Slovenian counterparts as well as Bulgaria’s deputy parliamentary speaker later on Friday.