European Union enlargement in the Western Balkans is in the economic and security interest of the EU, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó at a Prague meeting of Visegrad Four foreign ministers on Dec. 2.
Szijjártó then identified the lack of progress in the accession talks with Western Balkan countries as one of the biggest mistakes of the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker’s leadership.
According to Szijjártó, Finland’s representative currently serving in the EU presidency is the only one that has not opened new negotiations with any candidate country interested in joining the EU.
“Postponing enlargement and hindering this process is a policy that goes against European interests,” the Hungarian foreign minister said, adding that the new European Commission has to make significant progress in negotiations with the candidate countries.
“EU enlargement is necessary for strengthening the European Union. We, as the Central European countries neighboring the region, understand somewhat better how important the region is for the European Union in terms of economic, political, strategic, and security interests,” Szijjártó commented on the potential of the Western Balkans.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček confirmed the statement of his Hungarian counterpart as he also expressed support for speeding up negotiations with the Western Balkan states.
“The Western Balkans are a strategically important region in terms of our security and the stability of Europe. We should support the acceleration of this accession process because this small region belongs to the European Union,” he concluded.
However, Petříček has restrained from commenting on the French proposal to reform the rules for the EU accession process, only saying that he considers the current rules to be sufficient.