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Szijjártó: North Macedonia to start EU accession negotiations by June

Let me congratulate North Macedonia for the decision to start EU accession negotiations and the NATO membership. We will make efforts to close the negotiating framework by May followed by the start of negotiations by June at the latest. We are well aware of the importance of peace and mutual cooperation in the Western Balkans, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who is paying a visit to Skopje on Monday.

Skopje, 6 April 2020 (MIA) – Let me congratulate North Macedonia for the decision to start EU accession negotiations and the NATO membership. We will make efforts to close the negotiating framework by May followed by the start of negotiations by June at the latest. We are well aware of the importance of peace and mutual cooperation in the Western Balkans, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, who is paying a visit to Skopje on Monday.

FM Szijjártó told a joint press conference with host Nikola Dimitrov that he has delivered a Hungarian donation for North Macedonia’s health services, for the purpose of better management of the coronavirus crisis, but also referred to the issue of migrants.

“We must not forget about this enormous challenge even in these difficult times. The migration pressure on the Turkish-Greek border continues to be complex. Hungarian police officers working alongside Macedonian counterparts on the border have prevented at least 5,600 attempts for illegal crossings. We are very proud of our police officers, because over 1,300 of them have been deployed at the Macedonian-Greek border. I told my colleague Dimitrov that the country can continue to count on the support of the Hungarian police officers,” said Szijjártó.

He added that Hungary has already provided assistance to Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and now North Macedonia, because if the capacities of these countries weaken, then Hungarian capacities to cope with the migrant pressure would weaken as well.

According to him, the healthcare assistance they have provided results from the efficient cooperation between Hungary and China, with medical equipment continually arriving from Beijing to Budapest.

“Over the past week we practically bought a Chinese plant for production of protective masks. Manufacturing is set to begin shortly, so further support can be provided to North Macedonia,” noted Szijjártó.

With regards to the solidarity among EU member-states in coping with the coronavirus crisis, he said lessons would be learned.

“You are just starting the EU accession negotiations and therefore I would not want to take away your will for Union membership, but when it comes to the coronavirus fight it has been proven that individual responses by countries are the best option. Unfortunately, coordination among EU members has been very slow and that is why countries have been left to fight by themselves. Of course, we support all EU efforts to help the Western Balkans as efficiently as possible, including the support provided to North Macedonia. But it is a fact that every European country, almost every country across the globe, has different ways to fight, because they all have different health systems and use different means in this struggle,” assessed Szijjártó.

He said the economic policy would have to be adapted as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“According to me, EU has the most important task in this regard and should adapt its legislation in the economic field, so that it supports exports and foreign investments in the best possible way,” underlined Szijjártó.

FM Dimitrov said that in a time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, meetings with his counterparts are realized in extraordinary conditions.

“Even in such conditions, my dear colleague Peter and I would like to reaffirm our serious commitment to the solidarity and cooperation between North Macedonia and Hungary, so that we jointly overcome this common challenge. Let me extend my gratitude for today’s visit and the assistance that arrived from Hungary,” said Dimitrov.

He added that close coordination and cooperation within the region and the EU are important factors in the coronavirus efforts.

“I would also like to thank Peter for his country’s support to our decades-long aspiration to join NATO and the decision to start EU accession negotiations. Thank you for personally being here during this period filled with challenges and extraordinary circumstances. This visit speaks volumes of your friendship and commitment,” said Dimitrov.

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