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Hungary Presses for 'Bigger Steps' in Georgia Accession Talks

EU

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Hungary has and will continue to back "bigger steps" to advance the progress of European Union accession talks with Georgia, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a joint Hungarian-Georgian cabinet meeting in Tbilisi on Thursday.

Szijjártó said enlargement could give "new impetus" and "positive energy" to the EU, adding that Georgia was the kind of country that wanted to become an EU member and was developing rapidly.

He urged the EU to stop using a "double standard" in its dealings with Georgia, pointing to an earlier decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova but not Georgia.

"Georgia is in no worse shape than Ukraine or Moldova, so it deserves candidate status," he said.

Szijjártó said cooperation with Georgia would be "critical" for Europe's energy security in the future, noting an earlier agreement with the country on laying a submarine cable in the Black Sea that would bring green electricity from Azerbaijan to Hungary.

Bilateral trade between Hungary and Georgia reached a new record last year, he said. Infrastructure developments in Georgia offer Hungarian companies in water management and other industries "great opportunities", he added.

He said agreements would be signed soon on extending a program that awards 80 scholarships a year to Georgian students who enroll at Hungarian universities and on sustainable urban development and technology sharing.

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