Gyurcsány, Merkel share views on Kosovo future status - extended

Int’l Relations

Kosovo’s future was high on the agenda of a meeting between Hungary’s Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday. German Chancellor warns Moscow on Human Rights.

In addition to discussing energy issues, the German leader spoke with Hungarian officials about the tense province of Kosovo, where the ethnic-Albanian majority seeks independence from Serbia. Belgrade has said it wants to keep Kosovo under its control, and has expressed concerns about the security of the Serbian minority after Serbian Orthodox Churches and other religious and cultural sites were attacked in Kosovo, allegedly by angry ethnic Albanians. Chancellor Merkel said she wanted to give the Russian, German and American negotiators time to resolve the status of Kosovo. “We want, and this is also the opinion of the European Union, the negotiations to lead to a solution, which is both in the interest of Serbia and of Kosovo,” Merkel said. “That’s why we will do our best to reach an agreement within the next 100 days,” the chancellor added. Merkel said Hungary will also play a key role in the process as the country is not only a neighbor of Serbia, but many ethnic-Hungarians also live in Serbia.

The issue of Kosovo must be addressed as part and parcel of Serbia’s stability and future in Europe, Gyurcsány told a joint press conference after his meeting with Merkel, who was on her first official visit to Budapest. Gyurcsány said Hungary had a responsibility “not to allow the international community to forget that there should be peace in Serbia, too.” He added that Hungary had much to contribute because of its proximity to the Serbian province, though it had no intention of becoming a direct mediator.

Some tensions remain between Germany and Hungary, including accusations that Hungarian workers are mistreated in Germany and charges of illegal dumping by German companies in Hungary. Hungary’s prime minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, says he hopes these difficulties will be overcome because Germany and Hungary now have a good relationship. The two leaders also addressed ongoing reforms in Hungary and plans to improve bilateral labor market cooperation, Gyurcsány said. “Never since the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy has there been a country with which we have such a close relationship,” he added. Gyurcsány said Hungary hopes to increase this cooperation in economic, political and scientific areas.

One area of cooperation is, said German Chancellor Merkel, the establishment of a Central and Eastern Europe office in Budapest of Germany’s Frauenhofer Society, an organization that played a pioneering role in research and development. This was the first trip of Chancellor Merkel to Hungary , which played a key role in allowing East German refugees to flee to the West in 1989. Former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited Hungary in 2004.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Moscow on Tuesday that her country’s dependence on Russian energy will not prevent her from criticizing Russia’s human rights record. Merkel made the comments during a visit to Budapest. Energy issues were high on the agenda during German Chancellor Merkel’s one-day visit to Hungary. There is growing unease in Germany, as well as in former Soviet satellite states, about their dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies. Russia has in the past suspended energy shipments to some customers.

Germany receives roughly 30% of its natural gas from Russia and imports around 100 million tons of crude oil a year. Rights groups claim this dependence makes it difficult for Germany to take a stand on rights issues in Russia, including a crackdown on independent media. Independent churches outside the mainstream Russaian Orthodox denomination and foreign mission groups have also complained of harassment, BosNewsLife established.
But after talks with Hungarian officials, Chancellor Merkel said Germany, as

Europe’s largest economy, would not allow trade relations to interfere with its efforts to support democratic reforms in Russia. “Of course, energy relations are part of our relationship with Russia. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the opportunity to give our opinion about certain developments,”  Merkel said. “Just as the Russian president often criticizes us, we will also criticize Russia when we believe that certain human rights are not respected,” she added. (,

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