The stability of the Western Balkans is the key to the stability of Europe
Katalin Novák underlined that peace in the Western Balkans is a guarantee for peace in Europe, which is why it is of the utmost importance that the countries of the Western Balkans join the European Union as soon as possible. Hungary is playing a mediating and facilitating role in this process, she added.
The Hungarian Head of State said that during the meeting with the President of Albania, the Russian-Ukrainian war, the fight against illegal migration, demographic issues and economic relations between the two countries were also discussed.
Katalin Novák stressed that the countries of the Western Balkans can count on Hungary in the process of European integration. She stressed that stability is key in the Western Balkans, as this is a region where the situation can easily escalate. The President of Hungary pointed out that both she and the Albanian President declared that de-escalation is in their best interest, including in Kosovo. She stressed that they both see peace and security in the Western Balkans as their priority, adding that Hungary is helping to achieve this through a continuous dialogue as well as support for European integration processes.
The Head of State underlined that Hungary stresses in all forums that Albanian integration must also be completed as soon as possible, so that the country can become a full member of the European Union.
On the Russian-Ukrainian war, she called for the parties to the war to come to the negotiating table as soon as possible and for peace talks to begin. She stressed that 150,000 Hungarians live as a national minority in Transcarpathia, and that any suppression or curtailment of their rights on the part of Ukraine is unacceptable. She also spoke about the 2 million people who have fled from Ukraine to Hungary, and for whom Hungary is providing assistance.
Speaking about economic relations, President Novák said that the number of Hungarian investments in Albania is increasing significantly, Hungary used to be the 25th foreign investor, but now it has moved up to the 10th place.
Katalin Novák said that during the meeting they also discussed joint action against illegal migration and demographic issues. The President of Hungary invited President Bajram Begaj of Albania to join the Network of Family-friendly Presidents and to the Demographic Summit in Budapest in September.
In response to a journalist's question, the Hungarian Head of State reflected on the fact that the European Parliament is voting today on a resolution aimed at blocking Hungary's EU Presidency. Katalin Novák stressed: I hope that the European Parliament, which sees itself as the guardian of the rule of law, remains on the democratic path, rather than leaving it, and that would mean that the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2024 will be held by Hungary, and, I trust, to high standards. I have every reason to hope that no undemocratic, law-breaking decision will be taken in this respect, and therefore I can confidently say that among serious people, it is not even a theoretical option that Hungary may be denied the presidency of the European Union."
At the press conference, Albanian President Bajram Begaj expressed his gratitude for Hungary's support for Albania's European integration. Speaking about regional cooperation, he said he appreciated Hungary's commitment to the stability of the Western Balkans, including the contribution of military personnel in Kosovo as part of KFOR.
He declared: during the meeting he stressed the geopolitical importance of the Western Balkans, taking into account the recent changes, the importance of supporting the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, and support to Kosovo for its accession to international organizations, including the European Council.
Bajram Begaj said that during the meeting, cooperation between the two countries in the field of international organizations was assessed, which was also reflected in the mutual support of each other’s candidacies. He added that Hungary supported Albania's candidature for the UN Security Council as a temporary member for the period 2022-2023.
On the first day of her official visit to Albania, on Thursday, Katalin Novák also met Deputy Speaker Ermonela Felaj, and at the National Cemetery of Martyrs, paid a visit to the Tomb of the Martyrs and also delivered an address at the plenary session of the Albanian Parliament. Speaking in the Kuvendi, the Hungarian President said that Europe is going through a critical period, it is in trouble, it is facing difficulties. These include the war in Ukraine and its consequences, the fragility of the situation in the Western Balkans, the pressure of illegal migration on Europe, demographic challenges, and the role of Europe in the future as well as the fact that its weight in world politics has become questionable.
Katalin Novák stressed that the weight Europe will carry in the future, whether it will be able to maintain the economic, political and demographic power it represents in the world today, depends on whether it will be able to give wise answers, to find and remain on the path to peace, security and prosperity. According to the President, the key to peace and security in Europe is the stability of the Western Balkans, and the key to this is the integration of the region into the European Union. Katalin Novák pointed out that we need Albania within the European Union and that Albania can count on Hungary on the road to this goal.
The Hungarian Head of State recalled that she is visiting Albania for the first time and considers it a great honour to be here on an official state visit.
"We respect each other, we understand each other and we support each other", she said, describing the relationship between Albania and Hungary.
On Friday, during her state visit, Katalin Novák will receive the keys to Tirana from the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, and will then lay the flowers of remembrance at the statue of Queen Geraldine.