SARAJEVO, June 22 (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on Thursday for a quick accession of Bosnia and other Balkan countries into the European Union, saying they could provide new energy and dynamics to the “troubled” 27-member bloc.
Orban, a conservative nationalist often at odds with EU policymakers, said the bloc should not insist on conditions for membership but rather make its pre-accession funds available to support development and security of the Balkan countries.
“Whatever they say in Brussels, we are for the fast accession of the Balkans, that is, Bosnia and Herzegovina, into the EU,” Orban told a press conference during his first official visit to Bosnia.
“For us Hungarians, the Balkans is not a problem but rather the last reserve of European resources,” Orban said through an interpreter.
Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are at different stages of the EU accession process. Bosnia was granted candidate status last December mainly because the EU feared that instability from the Ukraine war might spill over into long volatile Balkans.
However, EU accession is likely to take years for all these countries as they will need to make major progress towards meeting standards on democracy, rule of law and economic reform to qualify.
Orban, whose government has seen EU development funds withheld over the alleged erosion of democracy in Hungary, said Budapest opposed policies based on sanctions and the EU should redirect funds slated for Ukraine to the Balkans.
Orban’s government has long advocated a fast accession of Balkans countries to the EU, saying this would reduce threats to stability, bolster Europe’s economic growth and help Serbia stop illegal migration into the EU.
Orban also said foreign oversight was no long-term solution for post-war Bosnia, where an international peace envoy still wields executive powers and an EU peace force is deployed under terms of the 1995 deal that ended its ethnic war.
Source : Reuters