Bratislava, October 31 (MTI) – Hungary will intensify its economic diplomacy presence in the Western Balkans because the acceleration of the region’s European Union accession is a primary interest for the country, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on Friday.

Szijjarto attended the second and final day of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Visegrad Four countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland) and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) in Bratislava.

The meeting continued on Friday with a plenary session focusing on the EU integration process of the Western Balkans.

Parties at the meeting launched a Western Balkan Fund, similarly to the existing Visegrad Fund, with Tirana as its administration centre. The fund is aimed at supporting the process of integration.

The host of the event, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, said that the “train of the enlargement has not lost steam and goes on”.

There is no reason in the case of any of the affected countries for the integration process to slow down, and Hungary has a strategic interest in seeing stability in the region, Szijjarto told MTI after the joint press conference.

Europe can regain the bulk of its lost competitiveness if it speeds up integration, he added.

In the first seven months of 2014, Hungary’s exports to the Western Balkan countries reached 1.5 billion US dollars which is an 11 percent increase from last year.

Answering a question from the press, Szijjarto expressed Hungary’s support for the South Stream gas pipeline project as one that helps the diversification of access to energy resources.

Szijjarto conducted talks with foreign ministers Ditmir Bushati and Ivica Dacic, of Albania and Serbia, respectively.


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