Hungary is in favour of Bosnia receiving EU candidate status by the end of the year but it is not certain that such a decision will be made in Brussels, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, told the FENA news agency.
Szijjarto paid a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday and handed over a donation of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
“The COVAX mechanism has failed, and the European Union has not lived up to expectations when it comes to the help we hoped for from them. However, since we made strategic decisions at the beginning, 65 percent of the population in Hungary has been vaccinated due to the procurement of Chinese and Russian vaccines,” he said.
All restrictive measures introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Hungary have been lifted and the country is now able to help others, thus donating 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine to Bosnia.
“Given the friendship between the two countries and the strong interdependence in which we live, it was very clear that we would help BiH immediately. According to official data and research, Sinopharm is an effective and safe vaccine. State scientists have researched it very thoroughly and we have very positive experiences,” he said.
Hungary is one of the few EU member states that has decided to vaccinate its population with vaccines that have not yet been approved in the EU, but the minister believes that the biggest mistake of Brussels in this process was the fact that they viewed the issue from an ideological and geopolitical point of view.
“It was very obvious to us that the more people we vaccinate, the more people we have a chance to save,” he said, explaining that the country asked its experts to go to Russia and China and check the quality of production, leading to the Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccines being approved in Hungary.
“This means that we did not enter an unknown area but made these clear decisions based on professional assessment. We know that the most important thing with vaccines is whether they are safe and effective, which has been confirmed by our experts, and the question arises why we would not then buy them and offer them to the citizens,” said Szijjarto.
The minister said that Hungary is in favour of Bosnia receiving EU candidate status by the end of the year because the country “deserved it,” but he also said that he is “not optimistic” this decision will be made in Brussels.
Still, there are some positive signs, he argued.
“One of them is the introduction of a new methodology for the enlargement process. It is a political process and it should not be stopped through bureaucracy and technical problems, which was the case before,” Szijjarto explained.
Another positive thing, he argued, is that Hungary took over the presidency of the Visegrad Group, which strongly supports EU expansion into the region, on July 1.
Slovenia also took over the Council of the European Union and that country understands the issues in Bosnia very well “understands the importance of this region being integrated into the European Union,” he noted.
As for the bilateral relations between the two countries in terms of economy, Minister Szijjarto emphasized that BiH and Hungary are only 70 kilometres away, which is why it is clear that the relations between the two countries must be improved and developed.
He noted that connectivity is one of the basic things to work on and that Wizz Air recently started operating from Banja Luka Airport, which is the third airport in BiH after Tuzla and Sarajevo where this company transports passengers.
When it comes to energy, cooperation is being prepared in terms of modernization of thermal power plants in BiH and installation of cooling systems, which is a Hungarian patent.
Also, the Embassy of Hungary in BiH is a contact point for NATO, he said.