Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó expressed Hungary’s firm support for the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme, including Moldova, in talks with senior Moldovan officials in Chisinau.
In the Moldovan capital, Szijjártó met Moldova’s Foreign and EU Affairs Minister Tudor Ulianovschi, President Igor Dodon and Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca. Speaking to Hungarian wire service MTI, the Fidesz politician said that “We consider Britain’s exit [from the EU] … a sad development,” adding that the EU could only get stronger if it “literally looks beyond its borders”
and establishes strategic and effective political and economic cooperation with countries aspiring to join the EU. He claimed that strengthening the Eastern Partnership programme is in Hungary’s interest; as Moldova is in the forefront of the programme, it is also in Hungary’s interest that Moldova should get as tangible European integration perspectives as possible, he added.
“This is also a security interest because the more allies the EU has in the east, the stronger it becomes. All of which is also in our economic interest”, Szijjártó added. Hungary increased exports to Moldova by 8% to over 100 million euros last year, he said. Richter holds a 10% share in Moldova’s pharma industry, and during Szijjártó’s visit, an agreement was signed on the use of Hungarian solutions in Moldova’s agriculture and water management. He also said that students from Moldova have been granted thirty scholarships in Hungarian universities. As Moldova has fulfilled all requirements, the EU should transfer the next tranche of its macro-financial assistance to enable it to continue its economic reforms, Szijjártó said.
EU and the countries of the Eastern Partnership program. Image: MTVA/ MTI.
The European Union’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) programme is a joint initiative involving the EU, its Member States and six Eastern European Partners: Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. It aims at building a common area of shared democracy, prosperity, stability and increased cooperation. The project was initiated by Poland and Sweden, and its first meeting took place in 2009 in Brussels.
These countries play an important role as they share a border with Russia, which thus often views the initiative with distrust. Hungary as well as the Visegrád countries (a grouping which includes Czech Rep., Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) which are on the Eastern border of the EU regard the initiative with special interest. However, the progress of Ukraine’s integration, which is one of the main focuses of the programme, is on hold at the moment; in response to the country’s controversial education law, Hungary has threatened to block the Ukraine’s EU integration unless the legislation is withdrawn.