null Conference of Parliamentary Speakers of Southeast European Countries in the Hungarian Parliament on 4 November 2019
On 4 November 2019, the Conference of Parliamentary Speakers of Southeast European Countries was held in Budapest, organised by the Hungarian National Assembly, for the ninth time since the establishment of the event in 2004. Since 2005, the biennial conference held in the Hungarian Parliament has enabled the exchange of information with the parliaments of Southeast European countries. This year, the main topic of the conference was the future of the European Union’s enlargement policy. This year, for the first time, László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary, also invited the Speakers of the Visegrád Group Parliaments. In his opening speech, the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly emphasised that “the Euro-Atlantic accession of the Western Balkan countries is in Hungary’s national interest, therefore our foreign policy strategy regarding the region will remain unchanged in the future: despite all the crises in the European Union, we believe that the process of reuniting Europe must not stop, as no white spots should remain on the Southeastern part of Europe in terms of EU membership.” Following the Speaker’s opening speech, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who was attending the conference for the first time, gave a speech. Representing the parliaments of the Southeast European countries, speeches were made by Ivan Brajović, President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Talat Xhaferi, Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, Maja Gojković, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Vasilika Hysi, Deputy-Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, Mirsad Zaimović, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nedeljko Čubrilović, Speaker of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and István Pásztor, Speaker of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Republic of Serbia. Jaroslav Kubera, President of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Elżbieta Witek, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and Andrej Danko, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, attended the meeting on behalf of the parliaments of the Visegrád Group. The event concluded with the adoption of a joint statement by the speakers of parliaments participating in the conference, reaffirming their commitment to the enlargement of the European Union and advocating that each country in the region should be given the opportunity to become a Member State of the European Union based on their individual performance. According to the speakers, it was a historic mistake that the recent European Council meeting had not decided to open accession negotiations with the two candidate countries meeting the required conditions, Albania and North Macedonia. The speakers also hope that the joint efforts of the EU Member States, the EU institutions and the applicant countries will lead to the enlargement of the European Union in the coming years. László Kövér sent the Budapest Declaration on EU Enlargement to the heads of the EU institutions and the Speakers/Presidents of the national parliaments of the Member States.