The European Union “has a historic responsibility to speed up enlargement” and integrate countries of the Western Balkans, an official of the ministry of EU affairs said on Friday. State secretary Barna Pál Zsigmond noted that the European Commission has adopted the 2023 Enlargement Package, adding that this is the first time that the EC has approved a report regarding as many as ten countries. The report gives a detailed assessment of the current state of enlargement as well as individual countries’ achievements in the accession process, he said. Enlargement will not involve Ukraine “because, as stated by the EC, Ukraine has failed to fulfil the conditions for candidate status which was offered in advance to the country last summer,” he said. “Hungary stands up for its interests, and it is clear that the integration of the Western Balkans must not wait,” he said. “A promise for an EU outlook was first offered to countries of the Western Balkans as many as twenty years ago,” he added.
Hungary is dedicated to supporting accession and defining a concrete schedule, he said. This process must be given priority over other integration processes, he added. “Enlargement must be handled as a priority, and this will be the case during the upcoming Hungarian presidency,” he said.
EU membership “is vital for Western Balkans countries” not only from an economic and strategic perspective but also in terms of energy and security policy, he said, adding that this was also the case given the growing pressure of migration on the region. Further delays in enlargement would severely affect the security interests of the EU and Hungary, he said. Hungary supports enlargement as long as the rules of accession based on individual countries’ achievements are respected, he added. Hungary, he said, agreed with the EC that Serbia had taken great strides and welcomed the proposal to grant candidate status to Georgia, he said.