“Hungary is calling for all European Union accession chapters for which Belgrade is technically ready to be opened with Serbia in December”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stressed in the Serbian capital.

Following a meeting with Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, Mr. Szijjártó told reporters: “The Serbian Minister for Integration informed me that the government in Belgrade is ready for the opening of seven negotiation chapters, and Budapest is calling for all seven to be opened at the inter-governmental conference in December”. “This would mean that a total of 21 chapters would be opened with Serbia by the end of this year, and since the Austrian EU presidency will be followed by a Romanian presidency, and Romania is a pro-enlargement country, Budapest hopes that the remaining 14 chapters will be opened during the following six months”, he continued. He expressed his hope that the Romanian presidency will be returning to the practice of holding two rounds of accession talks every six months, not just one.

He confirmed that Serbia can continue to count on Hungary’s support with relation to European integration processes.  Hungary has economic, security and friendly reasons for doing so, he explained.

The economic reason is that the rate of economic growth of the Western Balkan region exceeds that of the European Union, and the integration of rapidly developing regions is required to increase European competitiveness.

There is also a security reason behind our support, Mr. Szijjártó underlined, explaining that Hungary regards Serbia as a key player with relation to the stability of the Western Balkan region. “A stable and rapidly developing Serbia means a stable and rapidly developing Western Balkans”, he underlined, adding: “Now that the migration routes have become active again, it is extremely important for there to be stability yin this region”. He pointed out the situation that had developed in recent days because of migrants on the Bosnian-Croatian border, and that there are millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa who could set out for Europe at any time.

“The friendly reason for our support is that Serbia assures the widest rights in the region for minority Hungarians”, the Minister explained. Mr. Szijjártó expressed Hungary appreciation for Serbia’s latest amendment of minority regulations, thanks to which minority rights have been expanded once again. “We are extremely happy that representative of the national minorities living in Serbia wee involved in the drawing-up of these regulations”, he added.

Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that in view of the fact that Hungary has an interest in the stability of the Western Balkans, it is “rooting” for the success of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, and hopes that the result of the dialogue will be mutually beneficial and be based on a mutual agreement.

In closing, the Minister pointed out that an agreement was also concluded on Thursday: the mandate of the Hungarian expert working as part of the Serbian integration negotiation team has been extended by one year, meaning that a Hungarian expert will also be assisting the work of the Serbian negotiating team in 2019.

At the joint press conference, Serbian Minister for European Integration Jadranka Joksimović expressed her joy at the fact that Hungary has always supported the opening of new negotiation chapters, and that Hungarian-Serbian communication has always been sincere and consistent. She expressed her hope that relations will continue to improve, and the country will be able to cooperate within more and more areas.

Belgrade expects the Austrian EU presidency to be able to open as many chapters as possible before its mandate expires; seven chapters are technically complete, but in Belgrade’s opinion the opening of three of four chapters can be realistically expected in December, she added.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)