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SZIJJÁRTÓ: HUNGARY INTERESTED IN CLOSE EU-MOLDOVA COOPERATION

 

Hungary is interested in the European Union and Moldova forging the closest possible cooperation, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after meeting his Moldovan counterpart in Budapest on Friday, pledging Hungary’s support for speeding up Moldova’s integration process during its EU presidency in the second half of the year. At a joint press conference with Mihai Popsoi, Szijjártó said the EU was “ailing”, and “the most effective cure” was to build closer ties with partner countries outside the bloc, the ministry said in a statement. The minister recalled Hungary’s “difficulties” during its own accession process, and he pledged the government’s help to Molodva in “completing the task”. Szijjártó noted an agreement signed at the meeting offering training at the Hungarian Academy of Diplomacy in legal harmonisation and the implementation of accession-related reforms to fifty Moldovan public officials.
Szijjártó said each candidate country should be evaluated on the basis of its performance. Hungary’s position is that it is unacceptable if certain countries “become hostage” to those with “a poorer performance” in the integration process, referring to Albania and North Macedonia. “This is unacceptable for us, and we would like to indicate in advance that we will not support tying Moldova’s integration to that of any other country.” Hungary supports expanding the EU-Moldova free trade agreement, the liberalisation of their freight transport pact and allocations to Moldova from the European Peace Framework for the development the country’s defence capabilities. “In addition, if the first inter-governmental committee meeting on Moldova’s EU accession does not take place by June, we will hold it at the start of the Hungarian EU presidency to help speed up the process,” Szijjártó said.
Commenting on bilateral relations, he said trade increased 2.5-fold since 2010. Hungarian exports were mainly supported by pharmaceuticals and the food industry, he said, adding that OTP had grown to become one of the largest players in the local banking sector, following investments worth several tens of millions of euros. He welcomed Wizz Air connecting Chisinau to several western European cities, and said it was “good news” that Budapest services were restarting from April 2.
Szijjártó noted that forty Moldovan students studied at Hungarians universities with scholarships each year, and the programme seemed to be very popular. “Hungary is a dedicated supporter of Moldova’s integration process, and the signing of today’s agreements also makes clear that this dedication … is backed by real action,” he said. In response to a question concerning recent criticism by Vice President of the European Commission Věra Jourová, he said Jourová “has proven several times in recent years that she suffers from severe Hungaro-phobia, and she simply looks down on Hungarian people”. “We ask you: the way she talks about supporters of Hungary’s governing party. And we ask you: the way she generally talks about Hungarian people and Hungary,” he said. “Perhaps she finds this unusual, but in Hungary the government has been elected by the people in a democratic way,” Szijjártó said, adding that questioning the democratic character of the political system was a serious insult. He criticised Jourová for her support of the proposal to abolish the right of veto by member states, adding that this would result in the government not being able to act against EU decisions that severely harmed Hungarian interests. “Věra Jourová should be ashamed of her performance in recent years, because the European Union is in a worse state than it was when the European Commission entered office, and Věra Jourová has played a large part in that,” Szijjártó said.
Commenting on last week’s remarks by US Ambassador David Pressman, he said they should be assessed “as remarks by a left-wing political activist”. He added that Pressman should remember that when talking about undermining trust within NATO, he should not forget how many of his countrymen had been evacuated from Afghanistan by Hungarians.