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The European Union owes it to the Balkan countries to give them a chance to join the bloc, Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi told television news channel France24 in Strasbourg on Thursday, adding that enlargement in the Balkans was also a key strategic and political opportunity and responsibility for the EU.

Commenting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s rejection of the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia at a recent EU summit, Hidvéghi said the issue called for a political debate, which he said Hungary was ready for. The MEP underlined Hungary’s support of EU enlargement, arguing that it was in the bloc’s interest to become stronger, firmer and more stable.

Várhelyi Wants to Speed up EU Integration of Western Balkans

Concerning next May’s EU-Western Balkan summit in Zagreb, Hidvéghi expressed hope that member states would conduct a real political debate on the future of the bloc at the meeting and that enlargement in the Balkans would be put back on the agenda.

Várhelyi: EU Must Open Accession Talks with Albania, North Macedonia Next Spring

He said the presence of the Albanian minority in the region and the issue of stability were closely linked to the question of enlargement.

Hidvéghi noted that the bloc’s enlargement had also brought considerable stability to Hungarians living beyond the border.

He said the EU should also bear in mind Russia’s interests in expanding its influence in the Balkans and emphasise that the region is historically, geographically and politically a part of Europe.

Hungary Supports Moldova’s European Integration Efforts, says House Speaker

In response to a journalist’s question concerning the policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Hidvéghi said Europe was a joint project and that Hungary was committed to the concept of Europe. The political discourse in Hungary is free and there is democracy and freedom in the country, he said.

He said there was no doubt that Hungary had disagreements with the European Commission, adding at the same time that Hungary and Orbán’s will and willingness to establish a European alliance of strong nation states could not be questioned.

In the featured photo: Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi

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