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President of Hungary Katalin Novák visits Sarajevo

President of Hungary Katalin Novák visited Sarajevo, where on Tuesday she met with the Members of the Presidency of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina and held talks with Borjana Krišto, President of the country’s Council of Ministers. 

The agenda included the European integration of the Western Balkans, the EUFOR Althea mission – where command has been assumed by a Hungarian general, Major General László Sticz - demographic issues and the strengthening of economic and cultural relations, Farkas Vajk, Head of Communications of Sándor Palace, told MTI on Tuesday. 

Katalin Novák reaffirmed Hungary's commitment to the European integration of the Western Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, and praised the role of Hungarian soldiers in the EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She said that "the EU without the Western Balkans is like soup without salt: you can eat it, but everyone feels that something is missing from it. 

On Wednesday, the President of Hungary will visit the EUFOR Althea mission, where she will wreath the statue of the fallen soldiers and attend the command handover ceremony. 

Katalin Novák stressed that while EU is characterised by enlargement fatigue, the countries of the Western Balkans should also take advantage of the enlargement dynamics expected to be triggered by the opening of accession negotiations with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. The President said that Hungary, when it last acted as the EU's President, had achieved progress in the region's EU integration, and that this would be one of the priorities of the Hungarian EU Presidency in the second half of this year as well. The EU integration of the Western Balkans is in the interest of Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of Europe as a whole, she added.
Speaking about the EUFOR Althea mission, Katalin Novák praised the role of Hungarian soldiers in the EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She stressed that the fact that a Hungarian general is taking over the command of the mission also signals that Hungary’s contribution is an important one. 

Minister of Defence Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, who took part in the meeting, stressed that with Major General László Sticz, a professionally highly competent member of the Hungarian General Staff will take over the command of the mission. 

On demographic issues, the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina pointed out that they have been following Hungary’s family-friendly measures with interest and consider them to be a positive example. 

Katalin Novák stressed that no country has a future without children, and that Hungary is happy to share its experience in supporting families. 

Speaking about the importance of cultural relations, Katalin Novák drew attention to the potential that lies in the Stipendium Hungaricum programme, which also can contribute to strengthening the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary.