HUNGARY PLAYS AN INTERMEDIARY ROLE BETWEEN THE WESTERN BALKANS AND THE EUROPEAN UNIONText: honvedelem.hu / MTI | Photo: First Lieutenant Barna Koncsek, Szebáld Szakál, Noémi Bruzák / MTI |  16:16 September 14, 2022
Hungary plays an intermediary role between the Western Balkans and the European Union, said the President of the Republic Ms Katalin Novák at a press conference held with the President of Kosovo Ms Vjosa Osmani in Pristina on Tuesday, 13th September.
She emphasized that peace and security in the Western Balkans is necessary for the peace and stability of Europe, to which KFOR makes its contribution. A prospective European Union membership of the countries of the Western Balkans will be another important factor. She announced that Hungary is determined and committed to supporting the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union, which includes the European integration of Kosovo as well.
Now that Ukraine and Moldova have received candidate member status, this is both an opportunity and a danger, she said, adding, on the one hand, it is an opportunity, as it can accelerate the accession of those who meet the requirements. However, it is also a danger as those who receive candidate member status for political reasons and will have to meet the criteria later may overtake them. Ms Katalin Novák emphasized, Hungary sees an opportunity in this regard, and wants to seize the opportunity that the current period can speed up the integration of the countries that are already waiting. She emphasized that Hungary had supported visa-free travel into Kosovo since the very beginning.
Regarding her visit to Kosovo, Ms Novák said, in Hungary, the President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Defence Forces, and in this capacity, it is a tradition that she visits soldiers serving abroad as well. She added that she fulfiled this tradition when visiting the five hundred Hungarian service members in the KFOR mission in Kosovo. She also mentioned that Minister of Defence Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also participated in the visit to Kosovo.
"It is a special pride to have a Hungarian commander of this KFOR mission," she pointed out, congratulating Major General Ferenc Kajári on his service.
Ms Vjosa Osmani noted that Hungary had supported Kosovo in many areas throughout history, including the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that the relationship between the two countries is based on historical traditions, and on the shared common values and objectives. Kosovo's vision and goal is to maintain the Euro-Atlantic alliance, and the integration into Europe. She also touched upon the fact that Hungary provided enormous support to Kosovo students, as about 300 of them participated in Stipendium scholarship. She pointed out that, similarly to other European countries, Kosovo was also facing an energy crisis. As she said, the entire region should increase cooperation in this area in order to reduce the burdens.
Ms Vjosa Osmani said, it was time for Kosovo to level up its relationship with the European Union, and this year Kosovo will apply for candidate membership status. She added that at every step of the European integration path, they count on Hungary's effective and continuous support so that Kosovo could get its deserved position in the greater European family.