Katalin Novák: Hungary is the best friend of Western Balkan countries
Hungary is the best friend of the countries in the Western Balkans – President Katalin Novák stressed at the international press conference held at Sándor Palace with Željka Cvijanović, the incumbent Chairperson of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Budapest on Monday.
Katalin Novák welcomed the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted candidate status for EU membership in December 2022. This process must not slow down or stop, she added.
She said: the Western Balkan region is of outstanding importance, and may also be the key to Europe’s future. The countries of the Western Balkans can „count on us”, their rightful place is in Europe, not only in terms of their history, values, ideas and geographical position, but also legally and economically - Katalin Novák concluded.
The Hungarian Head of State said that at their meeting, they also discussed the Russian-Ukrainian war, illegal immigration, economic cooperation and the demographic crisis.
Katalin Novák stated: Hungary aims to speed up Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU membership process, and would like to welcome the country as a fully-fledged EU Member State as soon as possible.
"We need Bosnia and Herzegovina within the EU " – she said, and went on to add: the EU also needs the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
She underlined that with the incumbent Chairperson of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they confirmed their position on the Russian-Ukrainian war: they both stand up for Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty, condemn Russian aggression and consider the soonest possible achievement of peace as the most important goal.
She added: the stability of the Western Balkans is also a key goal, this is also why Hungarian soldiers have been stationed there; 164 Hungarian soldiers serve on the mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The President of Hungary also said that halting illegal immigration is a key priority for both countries, and they also wish to work as allies in halting demographic decline.
Economic cooperation is exemplary and is getting stronger and stronger - Katalin Novák underlined, pointing out: Hungary supports enterprises and companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and provided assistance in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
In response to a question, Katalin Novák explained: the Western Balkan region is of outstanding importance and may be the key to the future of Europe. Whether the Western Balkans will be inside or outside the EU in the coming decades will also determine the development of the EU.
She said the rightful place of the countries of the Western Balkans is within the EU, and Hungary may play a key role in this.
"We know the way of thinking, the characteristic traits of the region, so in a sense, we may be translators between the EU and the Western Balkans " – the Head of State said.
The other perspective – she went on – is that of security policy, as there were, there are and there may be tensions in the Western Balkans. We must avoid their explosion, so preserving the region’s security is important, and Hungary may be a key actor also in that.
Katalin Novák added: this is also one of the reasons why she is meeting with the leaders of these countries, as personal contacts are in the best interest of the parties. She indicated that she will also visit Northern Macedonia in the near future.