Following his meeting with Albanian Minister for Integration, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said that the EU must accelerate its enlargement policy in order to overcome difficulties; Western Balkan integration might strengthen the EU.
Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that current challenges – the EU must face – should not be a reason for isolation. Enlargement processes must be accelerated; otherwise the EU will be weaker and less competitive than it is now. He believed that it is an unreasonable situation that the Western Balkan region is a “white mark on the map”, and this must change.
Mr. Szijjártó declared that in general, Hungary is for enlargement, and a devoted supporter and advocate of Western Balkan integration. “The more we are, the stronger we are”, he added.
He said that the EU integration of the Western Balkan is also in the economic interests of Hungary since the countries of the region are important trade and economic partners, and the Western Balkan has been an important field for the most significant Hungarian companies.
In addition, this is an issue of security as well because Hungary is well aware what it means when there is instability in the Western Balkan region, and what it means when there is peace, he explained and added that this is why Hungary can tell from experience that integration is the fastest and easiest way to stability.
According to Mr. Szijjártó, Albania plays an important role in terms of Southeast Europe: it would be beneficial for the whole of the region if the country was stable. Therefore the European Council should give a clear agenda to the accession negotiations of Albania at its December session, and they should be started as soon as possible. He added that Albania is on the right path in realising reforms: measures are sustainable; therefore Hungary seeks to achieve Central European cooperation on the issue.
Mr. Szijjártó also said that from February, an expert from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will work in the Albanian Ministry for European Integration in order to help the Albanian government in the integration process.
The Minister added that from April, Tirana and Budapest will be connected by direct flight, and the economic cooperation of the two countries has also been beneficial: bilateral trade has grown by 26 per cent in the first nine months of the year.
Albanian Minister of European Integration Klajda Gjosha pointed out that the opportunity of EU accession is such a historical moment, which they would not want to miss, and they count on Hungary’s support in the issue.
Ms. Gjosha said that the arrival of the Hungarian expert is awaited and they hope that since Hungary has gone through the integration process, the expert will be able to provide useful experience with the help of which mistakes could be avoided.
The Minister also praised tight and traditionally good bilateral relations and said that cooperation has been boosted in the field of the economy as well.