October 11, 2017 / 12:13 PM / 2 years ago

Hungary demands faster EU, NATO integration of West Balkans

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary wants the European Union to speed up integration of the Western Balkans and for NATO to include those countries, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

“Speeding up the accession process is a guarantee of security,” Szijjarto said at a news conference also attended by a dozen officials from Central European and Western Balkan countries.

“An unstable and tension-riddled Western Balkans is a serious risk to all of Europe.”

He said the EU should launch accession talks with Albania and Macedonia no later than the first quarter of 2018.

The EU should also offer Bosnia and Kosovo “realistic and attainable integration goals and timetables” and at NATO’s December meeting of foreign ministers the military organization should make a decision to start Macedonia’s membership talks and activate a membership action plan for Bosnia.

He said one important risk of an unstable south-eastern European region was its inability to withstand a new wave of migration.

“If a new wave of migration were to come, only a stable and strong West Balkans can stop that,” Szijjarto said. “At the moment the EU has no strategy regarding the West Balkans.”

Other foreign ministers and diplomatic leaders echoed that sentiment.

“Our nation is geographically surrounded by EU member states but we have been on the periphery of the political attention of the EU,” Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Graff

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