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Hungarian-Macedonian cooperation is key for European security

Staff Writer |
Hungarian-Macedonian cooperation is crucial for Hungary for three reasons: migration, EU and NATO enlargement, and the economy, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stressed in his interview with the Hungarian news agency MTI.

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From the viewpoint of security it is crucial that the Western Balkans migration route should continue to remain closed, Szijjártó pointed out, and continued by saying that each movement in the region which points in the direction of the easier crossing of the borders would serve as encouragement for further hundreds of thousands to set out.

The Minister took the view that if the Western Balkans route is not kept sealed, another major flow of migration may emerge at the southern border of Hungary.

The Government of Macedonia confirmed that it does not wish to change its migration policy, and also in the future only those will be allowed to cross their southern borders who have the necessary documents, meaning that they maintain that they will not tolerate illegal immigration.

In order for this situation to continue to prevail, Hungary maintains its support, and will guarantee until October 2018 that a Hungarian police contingent of 30 will serve at the Macedonian-Greek border, Mr Szijjártó underlined.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that Hungarian police officers are taking part in the patrolling of the Macedonian border, the fight against people smuggling gangs and the detention of migrants who may succeed in crossing the border.

He also drew attention to the fact that the next Hungarian police contingent will arrive in Macedonia on 10 January. In addition to personnel, Budapest will also maintain the availability of technical assistance.

The Hungarian Government earlier provided 100 kilometres of razor wire, computers and fingerprint taking and recording equipment for the Macedonians.

Regarding security issues Szijjártó highlighted that the enlargement of the EU and NATO is highly important for Hungary.

“People in the western part of Europe still fail to understand the importance of there being peace and rest in the Western Balkans”,

he explained. He argued that, in his view, the easiest way of releasing the tensions that exist in the Western Balkans is by accelerating the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.

Out of its own security interests and those of Central Europe, Hungary continues to support the acceleration of the process which will lead to Macedonia’s integration.

To this end Hungary is urging that enlargement be placed on the agenda of NATO’s summit to be held in July, and that a date be finally set for the commencement of Macedonia’s accession talks in the European Union’s February enlargement programme.

Speaking about economic relations, Mr Szijjártó highlighted that the volume of trade between the two countries increased by 45 per cent last year, and by some 47 per cent already in the first nine months of this year, meaning that the volume of trade this year exceeded last’s year figure for the whole year already by September.

Additionally, the flagships of the Hungarian economy continue to show intensive interest in opportunities offered by the Macedonian market.

He mentioned as an example that MVM OVIT Zrt. signed a memorandum of understanding regarding cooperation with the Macedonian firm Kruna Drill Doo. in order to submit a joint bid in the call for proposals to be invited in respect of the construction of one of the largest Macedonian power lines that will connect the Macedonian and Albanian power line systems together.

Additionally, the Budapest Metropolitan Water Works would also like to take part in water industry projects in Skopje after Ohrid, and Mr Szijjártó expressed hope that cooperation of some kind may develop between the two countries also on the market of banking services during the period ahead.

In answer to the question of MTI, the Minister said that he spoke about the changing of Macedonia’s name with his negotiating partners who confirmed that Skopje would be willing to make a move in that direction in the interest of its Euro-Atlantic integration. Macedonian politicians said that this is a very difficult and highly complex process.

At the same time, they see a chance to resolve the tasks they are facing. Macedonia would change its name in order to finally resolve the name dispute that has been ongoing with Greece for decades, and that Athens should stop foiling Skopje’s accession to the EU and NATO any further.

On Monday Mr Szijjártó had talks with the Macedonian Foreign Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, the President of the National European Integration Council and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

He also paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, head of state Gjorge Ivanov and Speaker of the Parliament Talat Xhaferi.

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