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EU-China flags. Photo supplied

Hungarian FM defends China

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Friday called the European Union’s policy on China “hypocritical” and said cooperation with Beijing was in the interest of all member states.

Published: February 4, 2019, 7:49 am

    Budapest

    Central Europe should be developing its infrastructure with Chinese resources, Szijjarto told Hungarian public media on the sidelines of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest. Romania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

    EU-China relations was on the agenda of Friday’s meeting with EU candidate countries invited to the second round of talks.

    Szijjarto said it was obvious that China would soon become the largest economy in the world and the success of European cooperation with China would be therefore vital for the competitiveness of Europe.

    The old dogma that capital only travels from west to east, in search of cheap labour, has become redundant, he added. Companies from the East and the West are now equally dictating the speed at which global economy changes and in many industries the technologies required for future competitiveness are developed and first introduced in the East, he said.

    “As a result, cooperation with the Chinese is especially important because if the EU cannot cooperate with China then the latest technology in many industries will be inaccessible to us and this would result in a drop in Europe’s competitiveness,” he explained.

    The EU’s China policy is hypocritical under the current circumstances when trade turnover increased by more than 30 percent in one year, reaching almost 600 billion euros last year.

    Those countries with the largest turnover, which included Germany, France, Italy, UK and the Netherlands, that are the loudest critics, Szijjarto said. Central Europe wants its share of the benefits of cooperation which will serve not only regional but all-European interests, he added.

    “Cooperation between China and central Europe basically concerns infrastructure development projects that are not covered by European resources. As such, the utilisation of Chinese support for infrastructure development in north-south direction is an all-European interest and what’s more, this cooperation also yields development for the Western Balkans which will therefore become ever more prepared for EU accession,” Szijjarto noted.

    He criticised Brussels for delaying the European integration of Western Balkan countries, adding that it was “unacceptable” that the European Commission was holding back on Western Balkan integration until 2025, even though it would be in Europe’s economic and security interests.

    “There is no need for another six years at all. We believe that accession could be carried out in the context of Serbia and Montenegro much faster. This would be an economic and above all security interest for the whole of the EU, including Hungary. There are some serious tensions in the Western Balkans and if European integration is speeded up, these would be much easier to get under control,” Szijjarto said.

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