Hungary has a mediating role between the Western Balkans and the European Union, President Katalin Novák said on Tuesday in Pristina, after talks with her Kosovan counterpart, Vjosa Osmani. Peace and security in the Western Balkans is key to European peace and stability, Novák told a joint press conference. The peacekeeping mission stationed in the region, and EU membership for the countries there, are two contributing factors to that aim, she said. As commander-in-chief of the Hungarian armed forces it is traditional for the president to visit troops serving abroad, as she was now doing, visiting the 500-strong KFOR unit in Kosovo, she said. “Seeing a Hungarian commander heading the KFOR mission is especially gratifying,” she said, congratulating Major General Ferenc Kajári. Hungary is committed to supporting the European integration of Western Balkan countries, including Kosovo, she said. The membership candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova, which the two countries received last year, was “both an opportunity and a danger”, Novák said. The process could be accelerated for those meeting the requirements, “but it could also mean that countries with a politically motivated nomination might overtake others in spite of fulfilling the requirements only later.” Hungary is working to achieve the integration of Western Balkan countries, Novák said. Hungary has been supporting Kosovo’s EU visa waiver from the start, she said.
Osmani thanked Hungary for its support of Kosovo, including its help during the pandemic. Besides historic links, Kosovo and Hungary also have shared values and aims, she said. Kosovo’s future lies with maintaining Euro-Atlantic cooperation and European integration, she said. She praised Hungary’s Stipendium programme which has supported 300 Kosovan students so far. Kosovo, as other European countries, is facing an energy crisis, Osmani said, and called for cooperation in the sector to be boosted to cushion individual countries’ burdens. It is time to step up the relationship between Kosovo and the EU, Osmani said. Kosovo will apply for EU candidate status this year, she said. Kosovo is counting on Hungary’s effective and constant support in the process that will help Kosovo to “take its well-deserved place in the larger European community,” she said.
Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky accompanied the president on the visit.