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EU Enlargement 'Needs to Happen', Orbán Says

EU

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European Union enlargement "needs to happen", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a conference of house speakers from Southeastern Europe in Budapest on Friday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

The Visegrád Group and Central Europeans see EU enlargement in the Balkans as an opportunity, a source of energy and strength, Orbán said.

He pointed to a "geopolitical hole" between Hungary and Greece and said that if the region wasn't integrated into the EU, others would "make plans".

The Hungarian-Serbian border has become the meeting point of China's free trade zone and the EU's common market, he said. A free trade agreement between Serbia and China wouldn't be compatible with Serbia's EU membership, but "Serbia does well to keep several irons in the fire, if for no other reason than to galvanize Europe into action", he added.

He said internal EU reforms weren't necessary to allow the accession of "at least the best prepared" countries in Southeastern Europe and urged support for those countries in 2024-2027 "in the interest of growth". Hungary is prepared to pay more into the EU budget to assure resources for that endeavor, he noted.

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