Hungary supports the accession of the Balkan countries to NATO, the head of parliament’s defence and law enforcement committee said, arguing that a stable Balkan region was in Hungary’s interest. Addressing a panel discussion at the 30th “Tusványos” Summer University in Băile Tușnad (Tusnádfürdő), in central Romania, Lajos Kósa underlined the importance of the Balkan countries’ role in curbing migration. Hungary’s interest also lies in a strong, unified and competent NATO, Kósa said, arguing that Hungary could only protect its citizens as a member of NATO. He said Hungary supports every endeavour within NATO that is in line with its founding treaty, noting its provision that NATO is open to the accession of all European countries. It is also in Hungary’s interest that NATO be able to take effective action in regions deemed to be security risks, Kósa added. As regards NATO-Russia relations, he rejected accusations that Hungary’s government was pursuing pro-Russia policies. Hungary adheres to its international commitments, including the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, “even though it only hurts Hungarian exporters and doesn’t even come close to bringing Russia to heel”, he said. Meanwhile, Kósa said Germany was “helping the Russian energy sector to billions of euros worth of investments” via its gas imports through the Nord Stream pipeline.
Igor Merheim-Eyre, programme director at the British International Republican Institute, said Russia was a threat to the region and urged central European NATO member states to boost their cooperation. He said the Visegrad Group comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia should work together to have their voices heard on security policy.
Gergely Berzi, director for foreign affairs at Hungary’s 21st Century Institute, said the enlargement of NATO to include the Balkan countries could be achieved quicker than many would hope. He did not rule out that Serbia, too, would eventually have an interest in deepening its ties with the Euro-Atlantic bloc.