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Hungary is a staunch supporter of the European integration of the Western Balkans, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest on Friday, calling for the enlargement of the European Union to be speeded up.

The Western Balkans has always been important to Hungary, and the ongoing war in Ukraine has made the region even more important, Szijjártó told a press conference he held jointly with Staša Košarac, Bosnia’s minister for foreign trade, according to a ministry statement. Peace, calm and security in the Western Balkans is in Hungary’s national interest, Szijjártó said. The best way to achieve that is EU integration and economic development, he added. “Hungary is therefore a committed supporter of the EU integration of the Western Balkans and also supports the region’s economic development,” he added. The minister said the “snail’s pace” of progress in EU enlargement could “easily cause instability and lead to the Western Balkans turning elsewhere”. “Unfortunately, Brussels regularly proceeds to lecture the Western Balkans instead of applying a voice of mutual respect,” Szijjártó said. “So often in Brussels they talk about the Western Balkans instead of talking with the Western Balkans, and this is rather irresponsible.”