Hungary and Romania, holding the EU’s rotating presidency, support giving a boost to the Western Balkans’ European integration, which also lies in the EU’s economic and security interests, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, told Romanian news channel Digi 24.
The transcript of the interview Szijjártó gave during an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest last week was posted on the channel’s website on Sunday.
Szijjártó said he would be optimistic if progress in this field only depended on the Romanian EU presidency. The majority of western European nations, however, share the EC president’s standpoint that there would be no enlargement in the coming five years, he said.
The central European countries have learned from their own experience that NATO and EU integration helped a lot in alleviating tensions between them, he said. This is why they press for accelerating the EU accession talks of Serbia and Macedonia.
“Serbia is crucial for the stability of the Balkans. Opening a chapter or two each year for negotiations is not adequate encouragement. But we should encourage and make it clear for them that it is worth focussing on accession as any other scenario would strengthen anti-European sentiments, a development all of us want to avoid,” Szijjártó said.
Asked about the EU procedures launched against Hungary and Romania for violations of the rule of law, Szijjártó said it would only make sense holding sober discussions on the issue if the European Commission once again operated in line with its original mission, as a technical body and a “guardian of the Treaties” and gave up its ambition of acting as a political organisation.
Frans Timmermans, who is attacking Hungary on political grounds on behalf of the European Commission, is spitzenkandidat of the pro-migration European Socialists and a key player in the EP election campaign, Szijjártó said.
“Is there anyone who believes that if a government has violated the rule of law for eight years, it is still elected into power with a large majority in three consecutive elections as Fidesz was re-elected last spring?
Such attacks are insulting Hungarian voters because they carry the message that the European institutions do not consider them mature enough for assessing developments in their country and making a decision on their future,” Szijjártó said.
He said these attacks are in fact targeted at Hungary’s firm anti-immigration policy. Today, the sharpest divide in Europe is not between East and West but in the assessment of migration, therefore, the future of the continent will also be determined by the outcome of the upcoming European election: whether those supporting or rejecting immigration will gain majority in the European parliament, Szijjártó added.
“The next European parliament, which will have a very different composition to the current one, will have to provide answers to the real questions facing us – migration, the fear of terrorism, Brexit, Europe’s energy supply,” the foreign minister said.