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Key Priority of the Coming Hungarian EU Presidency Is Competitiveness

MTI-Hungary Today 2023.11.15.

EU Affairs Minister János Bóka had a bilateral meeting on Tuesday in Vienna with Karoline Edtstadler, Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution at the Federal Chancellery of Austria. The topics of the conversation were illegal migration, EU enlargement, strengthening the EU’s competitiveness, and the situation in the Middle East.

At the press conference following the meeting, János Bóka said that EU competitiveness will also be a key priority of the Hungarian presidency’s program next year, as the country will serve as president of Council of the EU. All other priorities are to be derived from this central objective, and in this attempt, Austria has been a reliable partner, he said.

The minister stressed that the Hungarian position on EU enlargement with regard to the Western Balkan countries has always been clear.

If half of the EU were as inventive about how to speed up the process as it is about how to slow it down, these Western Balkan states would have been members of the EU long ago,”

he said.

On Ukraine’s accession, he added, Hungary’s position is based on the premise that a strategic debate must be held before any decision is made, and that this debate must be “open and frank.” A position must be taken on the question of whether the EU’s security is strengthened or weakened by opening accession negotiations with a country at war with a neighboring nuclear power, and on the purpose of the enlargement process.

On illegal migration, János Bóka stressed that this is a European problem, so a European solution must be found. “Ideally a consensual solution would be needed, starting from the point that we, not the people smuggling networks, should decide who we let into the EU,” he underlined.

The minister believes that the migration pact will not be a breakthrough in this respect, so Member States are looking for options outside the pact.

One such example is the agreement between Austria, Hungary, and Serbia, which has already produced “tangible” results.

On the situation in the Middle East, Bóka said that Hungary was interested in the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, including Hungarian citizens, to avoid regional escalation and to ensure that Israel could effectively exercise its right to self-defense.

The minister stressed that the Hungarian Presidency is preparing to cooperate with Austria and all EU Member States in a spirit of loyal cooperation, as an honest and impartial mediator, bearing in mind European interests.

In response to a question, he noted that the Hungarian Presidency’s priorities include the fight against illegal migration, in particular the protection of external borders.

Karoline Edstadler emphasized that the meeting with Bóka was “open and frank.” The two neighboring countries have close economic ties, with Austria being Hungary’s third largest trading partner and one of its biggest investors. Some 1,400 Austrian companies are active in Hungary, employing 70,000 people, she said.

She highlighted that the two countries have a long history of successful cooperation.

Although there are some points of disagreement, the EU is a democracy, and it is important to exchange views and find solutions to differences,

she added.

She also pointed out that the two countries are on the same side on the issue of illegal migration.

EU's Position on Migration Approaching Hungary's View, Says Minister Bóka
EU's Position on Migration Approaching Hungary's View, Says Minister Bóka

He believes that if the EU cannot solve the migration issue, it should be left to the Member States to deal with the situation.Continue reading

Via MTI, Featured image: Facebook/Bóka János

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