“For strategic and security policy reasons, Hungary is calling for the further enlargement of the European Union with the Western Balkan states”, Minister of State for EU Affairs Szabolcs Takács from the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Wednesday.

Following his lecture at the Krynica economic forum in Lesser Poland, Mr. Takács said: “Hungary is calling for accession negotiations to begin as soon as possible with Macedonia and Albania, and for negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro to be concluded at the earliest opportunity”.

During one of the panel discussions at the economic forum, the Minister of State held talks on EU enlargement opportunities with representatives from the countries of the Balkan region.

According to Mr. Takács, the countries of the Visegrád Group (V4) agree with Hungary on this issue, while the countries of Western Europe believe the debates on the future of Europe must first come to a reassuring close.

“These include Brexit and the migration crisis, and they would only like to begin further accession negotiations once these issues are resolved”, he said.

The Minister of State pointed out that one of the most important reasons why the Hungarian Government is supporting the accession of the Western Balkan states is precisely because they are playing a key role in the supervision of land migration routes.

Mr. Takács told the press that the central topic of Wednesday’s negotiations was the possible exchange of territory between Kosovo and Serbia raised by the two countries’ respective governments, which is an extremely sensitive issue.

“However, the issue also indicates that if the Western Balkan states are capable of making such a serious political decision, and also succeed in implementing it, then they are ready for EU accession”, he added.

Mr. Takács highlighted the fact that if a solution to the territorial exchange is found that is fully acceptable to both the Serbian and Kosovan governments, and the decision is in harmony with international law, then Hungary will support it. “The territorial exchange could mean the end of the conflict that has troubled relations between Belgrade and Pristina for years, and which until now also posed a significant barrier to the accession process”, he said.

He also noted, however, that those opposed to the exchange of territory are worried that it might serve as an example to other states.

The Minister of State said Hungary is striving to assure that Montenegro and Serbia become full members of the European Union by 2025.

With regard to further enlargement, he noted that according to the Council’s decision, accession negotiations with Macedonia and Albania are also scheduled to begin in 2019.

“Europe will only be whole if all peoples with European identities, cultures and traditions become members of the European Union, and the Hungarian Government will be doing everything possible to achieve this”, Mr. Takács emphasised.