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Szijjártó: North Macedonia’s EU Integration European Interest

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.06.25.

Europe as a whole has a vested interest in North Macedonia and other Western Balkans countries joining the European Union as soon as possible, Hungary’s foreign minister said in Skopje on Monday.

Hungary has taken a firm stand for immediate negotiations to start on North Macedonia’s EU accession, Péter Szijjártó told a press conference he gave in the company of Bujar Osmani, North Macedonia’s deputy prime minister. The EU General Affairs Council’s (GAC) recent decision to postpone accession talks with North Macedonia runs against Hungary’s interests, Szijjártó said.

Enlarging the European Union is a precondition for the community to regain its competitiveness, he said. The GAC decision, however, puts doubts on the credibility of the EU’s enlargement policy, the minister said. Further, it poses a challenge to the credibility of Western Balkans governments that are committed to European integration, he said.

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“Living in the neighbourhood, we are well aware of the difference between stability and instability in the region,” he said, adding that Hungary’s government considers European integration the best way to maintain stability.  It is unacceptable that the next round of enlargement is scheduled for 2025, he said.

Hungary promotes the efforts of the North Macedonian government to pave the way for European integration, Szijjártó said.  The minister added that Hungary’s parliament would ratify North Macedonia’s accession to NATO on Tuesday. Osmani expressed thanks to Hungary and the other Visegrád countries for supporting North Macedonia’s European integration and for giving a boost to EU enlargement.

In response to a question, the two politicians agreed that former Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevszki’s stay in Hungary was a legal issue with no impact on foreign relations.

In the featured photo: FM Péter Szijjártó (left), and Bujar Osmani, North Macedonia’s deputy prime minister. Photo by Zsolt Burger/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.