Accelerating the EU and Euro-Atlantic integration of the western Balkan region would be in the interest of the whole of Europe, both from a security and from an economic point of view, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after a meeting Budapest hosted under its current V4 presidency on Wednesday.
The meeting brought together top diplomats of the Visegrad Four group (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia), and central and eastern European countries plus western Balkan countries.
Speeding up the EU and NATO integration process of the western Balkans will be a guarantee of the region’s security,
Szijjártó told a press conference after the meeting.
The most ardent supporters of the western Balkan region’s integration with the EU and NATO are the countries of central and eastern Europe and those in the south-eastern part of the continent “for the reason that we live here, in their neighbourhood,” he added.
Only a stable and strong western Balkans can stop a new wave of migrants arriving from the south, Szijjártó said.
Central Europe has a vested interest in the EU adopting a western Balkans strategy that accelerates integration and helps eliminate bilateral conflicts. As central Europe’s security is at stake, the participants demand that the EU should open six chapters of accession talks with Serbia and three with Montenegro this year. Further, it should set a date for starting accession talks with Macedonia and Albania in the first quarter of 2018 at the latest, and set integration goals and a timetable for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, Szijjártó said.
As for NATO, the foreign ministers should agree to start accession talks with Macedonia and activate the membership action plan for Bosnia-Herzegovina during their next meeting scheduled for December, he said.
In response to a question, Szijjártó said the issue of Catalonia had not been raised during the session.
“This is an internal affair of Spain which we have not commented and will not comment on in the future, either,” he said.
Asked about the chance of a migrant route emerging via Romania, Szijjártó said Hungary would give priority to helping that country halt the wave at its border. The matter of taking any measure along the Hungarian-Romanian border will only be raised once this effort has failed, he said.