Skopje, December 5 (MTI) – The Balkan region is not a problem but an opportunity for the European Union to help increase its leverage and economic clout, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at talks in Skopje on Thursday.
Orban met his counterpart Nikola Gruevski during the one-day visit and said at a joint press conference that Hungary continues to support Macedonia’s Euro-atlantic integration.
Orban said after the meeting that the continent must change its way of thinking, for instance, about the Balkans, before Europe can return to pre-crisis levels in its influence and share in the global economy.
“It is time someone in the EU clearly voiced the opinion — and Hungary is happy to do so — that the Balkans are not a problem for the EU but an opportunity,” Orban said.
Hungary believes it is in everybody’s interest that Macedonia should become an EU member as soon as possible, he said, adding that Macedonia has become a stable, democratic European state. It is also a key country in terms of the region’s stability, he added.
Orban said Hungary offered twenty state scholarships to Macedonian youth.
Gruevski told journalists that Macedonia’s integration was a key subject of talks with Orban. He said his country was grateful for Hungary and the other countries of the Visegrad Four grouping (Czech Rep, Poland, Slovakia) for their help in the process.
Hungary and Macedonia hold good economic and political ties and Macedonia offers more and more to investors, including Hungarian businesses, as seen by a Macedonian-Hungarian business forum to be held later on Thursday, he said.
Before the meeting, Hungary signed a cultural and a water management agreement with Macedonia.
Orban had also met Parliamentary Speaker Trajko Veljanovski earlier in the day and laid a wreath by a memorial for Macedonian freedom-fighters. He is scheduled to meet President Gjorge Ivanov and address the Macedonian-Hungarian business forum in the evening.
Photo: MTI/Prime Minister Office – Barna Burger