On the public television channel M1, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the issue of visa-free travel to the EU as the most important question at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga; this is still unresolved, however, he said.

The Prime Minister said that one of Hungary’s proposals was that visa-free travel to the EU should be granted to Ukrainians and Georgians. He said that the Hungarian standpoint is that Ukraine should be granted visa-free travel without delay, adding that the majority of participants were against this proposal.

In reference to the German chancellor’s opinion that the question could be resolved by the end of the year, the Prime Minister said that it should have been resolved now: the whole issue “has been postponed to an unforeseeable future”.

DownloadPhoto: Barna Burger

Hungary also proposed that Azerbaijan should be treated separately from other countries which joined the Eastern Partnership, in order for a strategic agreement on energy cooperation to be reached as soon as possible. Mr. Orbán called Azerbaijan a country of key importance, as it is the only state outside Russia that Europe could import gas from in the near future.

Concerning talks held with British prime minister David Cameron, Mr. Orbán said that the UK has proposed changes to the EU which are worth discussing.

He said that it is “reasonable” to talk about the issues of abuse of welfare provision, reducing immigration or simplifying regulations. “They want a more flexible EU”, Mr. Orbán said.

DownloadPhoto: Barna Burger

Evaluating the whole summit, the Prime Minister said that all avenues must be explored to enable the EU to address its problems of slow economic growth and deteriorating competitiveness. The Eastern Partnership could be a suitable means for this, but “we could have been a little braver today, and it is only with some reservations that I can describe today’s meeting as successful”, he said.

EU Member States held talks in the building of the Latvian National Library on the improvement of relations with countries in the Eastern Partnership Programme: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and the war-torn Ukraine.

(Prime Minister's Office/MTI)