The acceleration of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans region is a security and economic interest for the whole of Europe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday in Budapest.

The Foreign Ministers of the Visegrád, Western Balkans and Central-European countries held a meeting in Budapest within the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the Visegrád Group (V4). At the press conference held after the meeting, Mr Szijjártó highlighted: Central-European and Southeast-European countries support the integration of the Western Balkans most because „we live here, right next door”. He added: the countries of Central-Europe also have intensive trade relations with the Western Balkans.

DownloadPhoto: Márton Kovács

The Foreign Minister stressed: the acceleration of the EU and NATO accession processes is the pledge of the security of the Western Balkans. An unstable Western Balkans region encumbered with tensions poses a major threat to Central-Europe as well as to the whole of Europe, he said in stating his view.

He said: if a new flow of migration were to start from the South, only a stable and strong Western Balkans region would be able to stop it. If, however, the Western Balkans region is unstable, a wave of migration „would reach Hungary’s southern borders within seconds”.

According to Mr Szijjártó, it is in Central-Europe’s best interest that the EU should implement a Western Balkans strategy which promotes and accelerates the processes of integration which should not be hindered by bilateral disputes. As in this matter Central-Europe’s security is at stake, they demand that the EU open six new chapters at the accession talks with Serbia and three with Montenegro, while in the case of Macedonia and Albania, the EU should designate before the end of this year a date for the commencement of the talks which is not later than the first quarter of 2018. At the same time, the EU should identify attainable integration goals and a timetable in respect of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

DownloadPhoto: Márton Kovács

The Minister remarked: regarding NATO, a decision must be adopted with respect to the commencement of the accession talks with Macedonia and the membership action plan must be activated for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the December meeting of Foreign Ministers.

In answer to a question, he said: they did not discuss Catalonia today, that issue did not feature on the agenda of the meeting. This is Spain’s internal affair which they have chosen not to comment on to date, and do not wish to do so in the future either, he said.

In response to another question, Mr Szijjártó said: if a new migration route comes into being which traverses Romania, Hungary is ready to help with the protection of its borders the same as it did in the case of other countries as well. The top priority is to help Romania so that it can stop the flow of migration at its own borders, and a solution concerning the Hungarian-Romanian border section can only be considered if these efforts fail, he explained.