Hungary and Bosnia: Budapest pushes for Bosnian admission to EU and NATO

One of the tensions in the European Union is between those who seek an ever deeper, more integrated union of member states, and those who prefer a larger, continually expanding EU, but one where fewer areas of national sovereignty are pooled. The two tracks need not be inherently at odds with each, but it is difficult to imagine a deeply integrated European Union, when one must accommodate a growing and increasingly diverse spectrum of national interests.

Hungary’s government (even before 2010) tends to support an ever expanding European Union. Most recently, the Orbán government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, met with his Bosnian counterpart and expressed his support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s admission to both the EU and to NATO. “It is in Hungary’s interest that an ever-growing number of countries take part in the process of euro-atlantic integration,” said Mr. Szijjártó, adding that peace and stability in the west Balkans is essential from Budapest’s perspective, as instability impacts impacts all of Central and Eastern Europe. (As an aside, considering the Orbán government’s rhetorical attacks against the “declining” West, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ much touted politics of the east, Mr. Szijjártó’s comments on euro-atlantic integration seem to ring a little hollow…)

Mr. Szijjártó conceded, alongside Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Crnadak, that bilateral relations between Hungary and Bosnia are very underdeveloped. Before Malév Hungarian Airlines went bankrupt in 2012, there was at least a direct and convenient air link between Budapest and Sarajevo. Since then, there is neither air, nor rail transportation that would link the two countries. Mr. Szijjártó suggested that Budapest has plans to build better transport links between the two nations, but for this to succeed, Serbia would have to be involved in the discussions as well. One would assume that Croatia should be involved too, but Budapest’s relations with Zagreb are very poor.

Igor Crnadak (left) with Péter Szijjártó (right).

Igor Crnadak (left) with Péter Szijjártó (right). Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary.

Additionally, the Hungarian minister disclosed that major Hungarian companies had heightened interest in the Bosnian economy and market, and the Orbán government intends to play an active role in fomenting business relationships. Mr. Szijjártó did not name any of these large Hungarian companies, although one would expect that these are firms and businessmen with close links to the current government.

New cultural and educational exchanges are opening up as well, at first on a rather modest scale. Fifty Bosnian students will be able to study at Hungarian universities starting next September.

The decidely distant relationship between Budapest and Sarajevo is become a little warmer and closer. Undoubtedly, the refugee crisis has played a major part in this.


  1. Pingback: Hungary To Sue European Commission Over Migrant Quotas

  2. Not being too familiar with the warmth or coldness of Hungary’s international relationships, I was still a little surprised Hungary has cool relations with Croatia. Did not Hungary arm Croatia during the Yugoslav war?

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