Hungary is sending 6,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to North Macedonia to aid the inoculation of 3,000 border guards, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday, after talks with his Macedonian counterpart Bujar Osmani.
Thanks to its policy of buying Eastern as well as Western vaccines, Hungary is now in a position to help other countries, Szijjártó told a joint press conference. Effective protection efforts in other countries will also increase security in Hungary, he said.
As North Macedonia is situated on the Balkan migration route, it has to face the challenges of the pandemic and of migration pressure simultaneously, he said. If they fail to stop the migration wave, it will add to the pressure on the European Union’s external borders, he said.
On an average week, North Macedonia sees over 250 illegal border crossing attempts, he said.
He thanked Macedonian border guards for their work and pledged that Hungary would continue to send 30 men to serve on the southern border of the country.
Starting on Friday, vaccinated citizens of the two countries will be allowed to travel to each other’s lands without mandatory testing or quarantine, he said.
Osmani said Hungary had been the first to send aid to North Macedonia last year when they saw a shortage of masks. This year, it was among the first to send vaccines, he added.
He also thanked Hungary for its continued support in his country’s steps towards Euroatlantic integration. He said he hoped North Macedonia could start accession talks with the European Union this year, and said they hoped Hungary would support the process.
Featured photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI