The European Union should be much bolder in speeding up its enlargement with Western Balkan countries, and open all chapters of accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro this year, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told MTI after meeting Johannes Hahn, commissioner for enlargement negotiations, in Brussels on Thursday.
Szijjártó said Hungary is highly dissatisfied with the European Commission’s stance that the two countries can be admitted in 2025 at the earliest. The accession of western Balkan states is in the economic and security interest of Europe as a whole, and their integration would ensure stability in the region, he said. Should it be neglected, “a new wave of migration may easily appear at the southern borders of the EU, which coincides in this case with Hungary’s border,” the minister said.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement last week that his country would only support the admission of new members after the bloc has undergone internal reforms was “disappointing”, Szijjártó said.
“This approach demonstrates western Europe’s lack of understanding of the region.
The western Balkans can equally become a source of instability or bring about major progress in Europe’s security,” he added.
Commenting on his talks with Aries Canete, commissioner for climate action and energy, Szijjártó said that “despite lofty European statements and catchphrases”, central Europe’s energy security is still unresolved. Hungary’s “most realistic” chance is cooperation with Romania, he said. If Romania fulfils its promise to start producing natural gas on the Black Sea and upgrade the Hungarian-Romanian pipeline to allow gas flow in both directions, Hungary may be able to diversify its energy imports by 2022, he said.
Szijjártó also met with Tibor Navracsics, commissioner for education and culture.