Friday, 20 July 2018 | News today: 18

FM Szijjártó: Hungary remains the most vocal supporter of Macedonia’s bid to join EU, NATO

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Hungary remains the most vocal supporter of Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO. We consider the next NATO summit unimaginable without the enlargement issue. We also want the EU to set a date for opening of accession negotiations with Macedonia next February, the country’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Monday.

He was speaking at a news conference in Skopje alongside his host and counterpart, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. Our support for Macedonia, he elaborated, is based on three foundations, two of those are from a security point of view, i.e. dealing with the migrant crisis considered by Hungary as the biggest security threat to Europe in the past decade and the need for protecting national borders.

“Hungary will continue to support Macedonia and the Western Balkan countries as it knows the difference. We know the difference between a peaceful state of play in the region and an unpeaceful one. We want the region to be peaceful, we want the Western Balkans to generate economic development, instead of risks to Europe. Situations in Western Balkans can be resolved only by integrating the region into NATO and the EU. We know Macedonia and the Macedonian people have already done so much to integrate into the EU and NATO and Hungary remains the most vocal supporter of the country’s efforts to become member of the EU and NATO. We would like the enlargement issue to be included into the agenda of NATO’s upcoming summit,” Hungarian FM Szijjártó noted.

His Macedonian host, Minister Dimitrov thanked for Hungary’s strong support to Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration bid in the context of reform implementation.

“It took us a very short time to inject fresh quality in our relations with the EU. I’ve informed the minister about our good neighborliness policy and also about our investment in favorable relations with the neighbors. We are strongly determined to do everything in our power not to miss the next train to Europe coming this way in 2018,” stressed Dimitrov.

With respect to economic cooperation, Szijjártó, who also serves as Trade Minister, said that the exchange of goods between the countries last year rose by 45% with an increase of 47% registered in the first nine months of 2017. There is interest for cooperation in the sphere of energy after Hungary’s energy company has signed a tender for the construction of a hydro power plant. An interest is also being shown as regards projects on waste water treatment.

Unless the trend of mounting trade exchange resumes in the next couple of months, it can be increased to stand at EUR 250 million, according to Dimitrov.

Today’s meeting also marked the signing of an action plan for cooperation in 2018 between the foreign ministries of the two countries that foresees concrete forms and activities to improve cooperation in several areas.

The visiting minister is scheduled to meet President Gjorge Ivanov, Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi and PM Zoran Zaev later in the day.