Ensuring peace and stability in the Western Balkans is in Hungary’s interest, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said after talks with Djordje Radulovic, his Montenegrin counterpart, in Budapest on Friday.
Integrating the region into the European Union is crucial for achieving that end, the minister said, adding that Hungary “most resolutely” supports the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU, which, he added, was also in the bloc’s interest.
The Western Balkans is a focal point of Hungarian foreign policy, he said, adding: “Hungary, a neighbour of that region, knows the difference between peace, stability, calm, and prosperity there and when the opposite is happening.” He insisted that if Balkan countries were “weak”, illegal migrants could easily reach Hungary’s southern borders, that is why strengthening the region and integrating it with the EU was crucial for European security.
Hungary will do everything to support European integration, Szijjártó said, adding that “Montenegro should be in the EU already”.
He also called on the EU’s Portuguese presidency to speed up accession talks.
Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 55 million euro loan credit line to finance coopearative projects by Hungarian and Montenegrin companies, Szijjártó said. He added that Hungarian retail bank OTP was a market leader in Montenegro, while low-cost airlines Wizzair was making preparations to open a new base in that country. Hotel chain Hunguest will refurbish one of its hotels in Montenegro, with the Hungarian government contributing one billion forints (EUR 2.8m) to the project worth 2 billion forints, the minister said.
Radulovic said that bilateral ties were excellent, and expressed his country’s gratitude for Hungary’s continous support for EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. Montengro wants to join the EU as soon as possible, he added.
The Montenegrin minister welcomed Hungary’s economic support and assistance in coping with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two officials agreed to reinforce bilateral cooperation in the areas of the economy, tourism, health, security, and education, he said.
Answering a question, Szijjártó said Hungary would receive another 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine by the end of next month, but added that he hoped the shipment would be delivered sooner, facilitating earlier vaccinations and an earlier removal of restrictions.
On the subject of ties with China, he also said that while the global economy had contracted by 9 percent last year, bilateral trade turnover was up by over 20 percent, and Hungary received the largest part of its FDI from that country.