Hungary a champion of further EU enlargement strengthening regional stability
Hungary continues to be committed to the enlargement of the European Union – primarily integrating the countries of the so-called Western Balkans. According to the new Hungarian External Relations Strategy “deepening co-operation among the countries of the Western Balkan region, their long-term stability, security, democracy, and their road to a market economy” belong to the core of Hungarian national (geopolitical) interests. The Strategy underlines that “the most effective way to achieve this in the long-term is to secure the Euro-Atlantic integration of all of its countries”. Hungary supports the ‘individual merit’ approach whereby the countries well prepared for Euro-Atlantic integration “should not suffer because of lagging behind of others”. On the contrary: “their progress should serve as an encouraging example to the countries left behind, showing that effective preparation brings about the desired outcome”.
Hungary is actively promoting the integration processes of the concerned states into both NATO and the EU. Furthermore, Hungary is also involved in regional cooperation fora such as the Central European Initiative or the Regional Cooperation Council (successor of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe).These institutions enable to tighten regional cooperation and to assist the Western Balkan countries in their preparations for membership in NATO and the EU. Hungary alone is also engaged in several actions supporting the region, i.e. over 600 Hungarian soldiers are serving in the Western Balkans in peacekeeping operations, some 50 officials participate in EULEX (the EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo), and Budapest is also sponsoring the Szeged Process (launched for Serbia but later extended to all Western Balkan countries) with the aim of sharing expertise in matters of Euro-Atlantic integration. All this means that the countries of the South-East European region can count on Hungary’s lobbying and support in NATO and the EU regarding their entry – once the membership criteria are met.
In parallel to these Hungarian priorities another aspect must also be highlighted. While Hungary wholeheartedly supports the Euro-Mediterranean (or Barcelona) Process, the Hungarian diplomacy considers it a matter of high importance that the European Union develop intensive neighbourly relations with its southern and eastern partners in a balanced way with similar political and financial commitments.
 Strategy presented by the Spokesman of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November 2008, summary available at: http://www.kulugyminiszterium.hu/kum/en/bal/european_union/Latest+news/SZG_WBalkans_eng_081120.htm (last access: 27 February 2009).
 Hungary considers it a matter of importance that the EU develop relations with its eastern and southern neighbours in a balanced way – László Várkonyi’s address to the MEDays conference in Tangier, press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 November 2008, available at: http://www.kulugyminiszterium.hu/kum/en/bal/european_union/Latest+news/VL_MEDays_eng_081128.htm (last access: 27 February 2009).