B9 supporting ‘Open Doors’ to Western Balkans in NATO, says Hungarian president

Presidents of the Bucharest Nine group support the policy of “Open Doors” in NATO in terms of helping countries in the Western Balkans join the organisation, Hungarian President János Áder said on Friday.

Speaking after a meeting of the group in Warsaw, Áder said that

participants had unanimously agreed with plans of NATO’s expansion in the Western Balkan region.

Áder urged that the region should be integrated as soon as possible, and highlighted its significance for security. Integrating the region will “serve Europe’s peace, calm and security”, the president said, but added that “on the other hand, it is also a risk factor”. He said that in the enlargement process each applicant country’s meeting entry criteria would be assessed separately.

The B9 group consists of presidents of the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia), the Baltic states, as well as Romania and Bulgaria.

Áder said that participants had discussed ways to increase NATO’s budget and enhance security in member states. He said that only eight out of the 29 members have increased their defence spending to reach 2 percent of their GDP, as required by NATO, while 12 countries have not even come up with a timetable to do so. Hungary, however, has a timetable which envisages that defence spending should reach 2 percent of GDP by 2024, Áder said.

Higher defence spending will safeguard the country’s security and help improve defence capabilities in light of the “increased terrorist threat and expected higher migration pressure”, the president said. Participants in the meeting called those two factors “realistic”, which NATO must take seriously and tackle in the near future, Áder said.

Photo: MTI