Hungary welcomes the start of Albania and North Macedonia’s accession talks to the European Union, and is proud to have had an active role in this achievement, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said. Briefing the press after an EU’s General Affairs Council (GAC) video conference, Szijjártó welcomed the member states’ agreement on starting the talks, calling it a “huge success for Hungary”. Hungary has supported the EU’s enlargement for several years, and provided “real, concrete” help to Western Balkan states in the accession process, Szijjártó said. He also noted that the EU’s commissioner responsible for enlargement, Hungary’s Olivér Várhelyi, had proposed a new enlargement method to expedite the process. The GAC has now expressed political support for that method, Szijjártó said.
Hungary has long seen Albania and North Macedonia as ready to start the accession process, he said. The EU has a vested interest in the two countries joining at a time when the bloc “badly needs a success story”, he said, referring to Brexit, migration pressure on the southern borders and the coronavirus epidemic. The EU’s economic and security interests also warrant an enlargement in the Western Balkans, Szijjártó said. Accession talks with Serbia and Montenegro should not be stalled either, Szijjártó warned.
Asked about the new coronavirus epidemic, Szijjártó said the situation poses a “significant economic challenge to the world and Hungary”. The Hungarian government has taken steps to take advantage of the EU’s laxer regulations for supporting investment projects and companies to save the jobs created over the past years, he said. The most flexible and fastest reacting governments will enjoy a great competitive advantage after the epidemic, he said.