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Szijjarto: Hungary, Cyprus rejecting ‘splitting EU into first, second class members’

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Hungary and Cyprus “will never accept that the European Union should be divided up to first and second class member states,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Nicosia on Tuesday, adding that the two countries “firmly oppose scrapping unanimous decision making” in the EU.

At a press conference held jointly with his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos, Szijjarto said the economy and security of the community were “worse than after the coronavirus pandemic”, with special regard to the EU’s decreasing competitiveness, the war in Ukraine and risk of its escalation, as well as difficulties posed by illegal migration. He said he hoped that the upcoming European parliamentary elections could bring changes “with the bloc turning in the right direction and the peace camp gaining strength”.

The Hungarian government urges peace as soon as possible, Szijjarto said, but admitted that its position “is not in the mainstream and not supported by a majority”. Hungary does not send weapons to Ukraine and “sharply opposes declarations concerning the possibility of sending Western troops”, he said.

Those “promoting the peace camp’s position are stigmatised” and “there is extremely small room for a sober dialogue” on the matter, he said, adding that “similarly, there was no opportunity for a meaningful debate concerning some kind of compensation for member states seriously impacted by the sanctions against Russia.”

Concerning a proposed scrapping of unanimous decisions in the EU, Szijjarto said “we will never accept a situation in which the big countries could make decisions on issues also impacting us, leaving us the only possibility to say ‘yes, sir’.”

The EU’s Hungarian presidency in the second half of the year will be aimed “to stop a further weakening of the community”, he said, adding that “a strong Europe requires strong members.” The EU needs “new momentum and energy, which could only come from the outside; the (Hungarian) government, therefore, will have promotion of the integration of the Western Balkans high on its agenda,” he said. He added, however, that some countries should not be granted a “fast track” procedure for political reasons; “each candidate must be assessed on their actual merits.” The Western Balkan states “deserve a fair and positive attitude”, he said. Hungary and Cyprus will join forces to promote the issue, he added.

The Hungarian presidency will place increased focus on the fight against illegal migration, Szijjarto said. “The government considers migration as a hazard rather than an opportunity,” he said, adding that “migration must be stemmed rather than managed”.

Szijjarto welcomed that “similarly to Hungary, Cyprus always promotes its national interests in the EU”, and noted a regular political coordination between the two countries.

Concerning the economy, Szijjarto pointed to tourism as a fast developing sector, and said over 66,000 Hungarians had visited Cyprus in 2023, up by 31 percent from the previous year.

The turnover of bilateral trade is above 100 million euros, Szijjarto said, adding that energy offered further opportunities for cooperation, with special regard to new resources in Cyprus.

Szijjarto also mentioned that Hungary had sent troops to the United Nations peace keeping mission (UNFICYP), “thus contributing to peace and stability”.

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