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TAKÁCS: STRONG CENTRAL EUROPE IN HUNGARY, SLOVENIA'S INTEREST

 

Hungary and Slovenia have a shared interest in a politically and economically strong central Europe within the European Union that is pro- rather than anti-EU, a government official said. A strong EU cannot exist without strong member states or regions capable of developing, Szabolcs Takács, state secretary for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office, told MTI after bilateral talks with Dobran Božič, state secretary for foreign affairs, and Igor Mally, state secretary at the prime minister’s office. On the agenda of talks were the European parliamentary elections, European integration, the future of the EU, the EU budget and illegal migration. EU projects aimed at improving links between Europe’s northern and southern regions, including Hungarian-Slovenian infrastructure and energy links, were also discussed.

Takács said cross-border cooperation was a fundamental aspect of the EU. “Cooperation between Hungary and Slovenia is excellent, not only as regards EU affairs, but also for Hungarians living here,” he told MTI by phone, noting the opening of a consulate-general in Lendava (Lendva) in 2016 and referring to a Hungarian government economic development scheme backed by the Slovenian government.

Countries that represent fundamental principles and values like national identity, strengthening EU security and competitiveness, the free movement of workers, and the EU without internal border controls can be successful, he said. “Neither Slovenia nor Hungary accept that some of our EU partners … want to maintain border controls within the Schengen area over the long term,” he said. Takács urged the Romanian EU presidency to take the views of all member states into consideration.

Regarding migration, Hungary respects the positions of member states that want theirs to be a multicultural society. But they should also respect the decisions of Hungarian and Slovenian citizens, he said. The state secretary noted that Slovenia will take up the EU presidency in 2021, and integration of the western Balkans will be a priority for the former Yugoslav state. Both countries, said Takács, were confident that the new European Commission would be enlargement-friendly. “Western Balkan countries must become EU members as soon as possible for the sake of our political, economic and security interests,” he said.

Concerning the EU budget, he said Hungary and Slovenia agreed that a reduction in the size of the next seven-year budget could not be justified by Brexit alone. Goals, he added, must be set first and then the financial resources allocated to them. The European Commission’s current proposals penalise central European countries, he said. Takács told his Slovenian partners that Hungary was against supporting illegal migrants from the common budget while the poorest regions received less money.