Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Friday called the European Union’s policy on China “hypocritical” and said cooperation between the bloc and Beijing was in the interest of the whole of Europe.
It is also in Europe’s interest that central Europe should develop its infrastructure by utilising Chinese resources, Szijjártó told Hungarian public media on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest.
Romania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, put EU-China relations on the agenda of Friday’s meeting and EU candidate countries have also been invited to the second part of the talks.
Szijjártó said it was obvious that China would soon become the largest economy in the world and the success of European cooperation with China would be therefore vital for the competitiveness of Europe. An old dogma that capital only travels from west to east, in search of cheap labour, has fallen, he added. Companies from the East and the West are now equally dictating the speed at which global economy changes and in many industries the technologies required for future competitiveness are developed and first introduced in the East, he said.
“As a result, cooperation with the Chinese is especially important because if the EU cannot cooperate with China then the latest technology in many industries will be inaccessible to us and this would result in a drop in Europe’s competitiveness,” he added.
The EU’s China policy is hypocritical under the current circumstances when trade turnover increased by more than 30 percent in one year, reaching almost 600 billion euros last year and those countries had the largest turnover, including Germany, France, Italy, UK and the Netherlands, that are the loudest critics of China, Szijjártó said. Central Europe wants its share of the benefits of cooperation which will serve not only regional but all-European interests, he added.
“Cooperation between China and central Europe basically concerns infrastructure development projects that are not covered by European resources. As such, the utilisation of Chinese support for infrastructure development in north-south direction is an all-European interest and what’s more, this cooperation also yields development for the Western Balkans which will therefore become ever more prepared for EU accession,” Szijjártó said.
Szijjártó criticised Brussels for delaying the European integration of Western Balkan countries, adding that it was “unacceptable” that the European Commission was holding back on Western Balkan integration until 2025, even though it would be in Europe’s economic and security interests.
“There is no need for another six years at all. We believe that accession could be carried out in the context of Serbia and Montenegro much faster. This would be an economic and above all security interest for the whole of the EU, including Hungary. There are some serious tensions in the Western Balkans and if European integration is speeded up, these would be much easier to get under control,” Szijjártó added.
Featured image: MTI