Speaking following meetings with Macedonian leaders in Skopje, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó argued that cooperation with Macedonia is important for Hungary on the issues of migration, the enlargement of the European Union and NATO, as in the economic sphere.
Szijjártó held talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov, the deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, the deputy PM in charge of EU integration, the head of the National European Integration Council as well as former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
He also made courtesy calls on Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, President Gjorge Ivanov and House Speaker Talat Xhaferi.
Speaking to wire service MTI, the Foreign Minister claimed that, from a security point-of-view, it is crucial that the western Balkans migration route remains closed. Szijjártó argued that any change in the region that makes it easier to cross borders will only encourage hundreds of thousands more to set off for Europe, he said.
Macedonia’s government has confirmed that its migration policy will remain unchanged and that it will only allow entry to those who have all their documents in order. Meanwhile, Szijjártó added, Hungary will continue to station a 30-strong police unit in Macedonia to help out with patrolling along the Greek border until October 2018, he added.
Szijjártó also underlined the importance of EU and NATO enlargement. He said the key to easing tensions in the region was speeding up its Euro-Atlantic integration. Hungary will continue to push for speeding up Macedonia’s integration, Szijjártó said.
Specifically, the Foreign Minister said that Hungary would like to place a start date for EU accession talks in the bloc’s February enlargement work programme. In addition, he added that
“We would like the enlargement to be a part of the daily agenda on the next NATO summit.”
For his part, Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Dimitrov welcomed Szijjártó’s comments and expressed his enthusiasm for the prospect of Macedonia’s integration into the European Union, saying that
“It took a very short time to breathe new quality into the relations with the EU. I introduced the minister with our good neighbourly policy and our investment in the good relations with the neighbours. We are determined to do everything we can not to miss the next train to Europe that is opening up in 2018.”
Turning from politics, Szijjártó said that major Hungarian companies are continuing to look into opportunities on the Macedonian market.
Speaking about Hungarian-Macedonian economic cooperation, he said bilateral trade turnover grew by 47% over the first nine months of the year. In comparison, trade turnover grew by 45% over the whole of 2016.
The minister said that on Monday, state-owned power network company MVM OVIT signed a declaration of intent on cooperation with Macedonian energy company Kruna Dril for submitting a tender for the construction of one of Macedonia’s largest power transmission lines connecting Macedonia and Albania’s power transmission systems.
In addition, Budapest waterworks Fővárosi Vízművek wants to participate in water industry projects in Skopje, having also participated in projects based in Ohrid, he said. The minister expressed hope that Hungary and Macedonia would also cooperate in the banking industry in the near future.
Via MTI, Hungary Matters, and europeanwesternbalkans.com
Images via MTI