Published: November 15 2023
János Bóka, the Hungarian minister for European Union affairs, recently held bilateral talks with Karoline Edtstadler, the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution, in Vienna. The discussions covered various topics including EU enlargement, strengthening competitiveness, and the situation in the Middle East. Bóka emphasized that EU competitiveness will be the central focus of Hungary's presidency in the second half of 2024.
Hungary's Stance on EU Enlargement
During the talks, Bóka reiterated Hungary's unwavering stance on EU enlargement. He stated that if the EU used its resources to promote rather than hinder the enlargement process, the countries of the Western Balkans would have already become members. Bóka emphasized the need for an open and honest strategic debate regarding Ukraine's accession to the EU, taking into consideration the country's conflict with a neighboring nuclear power.
Addressing Illegal Migration
Bóka highlighted the importance of reaching a consensus and implementing a European solution to address illegal migration. He suggested that the EU should have the authority to decide who is allowed into the country, rather than leaving it in the hands of people smugglers. Bóka expressed his disappointment with the EU's migration pact, stating that member states have started to explore alternative options outside of the pact. He mentioned that the agreement between Austria, Hungary, and Romania has already produced positive results.
Middle East Concerns
Regarding the Middle East, Bóka expressed Hungary's interest in ensuring the release of hostages, including Hungarian citizens, and preventing further escalation. He also highlighted the importance of enabling Israel to exercise effective self-defense measures.
Both Bóka and Edtstadler emphasized the strong economic ties between Hungary and Austria. Austria is Hungary's third largest trading partner and one of the country's top investors. While the two countries may have differing views on certain issues, they acknowledged the importance of democratic dialogue and the exchange of opinions within the EU.
Questions & Answers
What was discussed during the bilateral talks between the Hungarian Minister for European Union Affairs and the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution in Vienna? The bilateral talks in Vienna included discussions on EU enlargement, strengthening competitiveness, and the situation in the Middle East.
What will be the central focal point of Hungary's presidency in the second half of 2024? EU competitiveness will be the central focal point of Hungary's presidency in the second half of 2024.
What has been Hungary's stance on the EU enlargement process? Hungary's stance on the EU enlargement process has always been unequivocal. They believe that if the EU used its resourcefulness to advance the enlargement process rather than hinder it, the countries of the Western Balkans would have become members long ago.
What factors did the Hungarian Minister mention that should be considered before making a decision on Ukraine's accession to the EU? Before making a decision on Ukraine's accession to the EU, the member states must conduct an "open and honest" strategic debate. They will have to determine whether accession talks with a country at war with a neighboring nuclear power would strengthen or weaken the EU. The aim of the talks should also be considered, whether it is to spread peace or import war into the EU.
What approach does the Hungarian Minister suggest for the European solution to illegal migration? The Hungarian Minister suggests that the European solution to illegal migration should be based on a consensus. It should aim to let "we, rather than people smugglers, decide who we want to allow into the country." The EU's migration pact has failed to deliver results, and member states have started to look for opportunities outside of the pact. An agreement between Austria, Hungary, and Romania has already yielded results.
What are Hungary's interests in the Middle East? Hungary is interested in freeing the hostages, including Hungarian citizens, and in preventing escalation. They also aim to support Israel in exercising self-defense effectively in the Middle East.
What is Austria's relationship with Hungary in terms of trade and investment? Austria is Hungary's third largest trading partner and one of its largest investors. Approximately 1,400 Austrian companies employ around 1,400 people in Hungary.
Do Hungary and Austria have the same views on illegal migration? Yes, Hungary and Austria are on the same side when it comes to illegal migration.