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More than 100 participants from 20 countries, including several ambassadors, attended the international conference organised by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium Center of European Studies on the functioning of the European Political Community. Among the guests at the day-long event were Pavlo Klimkin, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of Ukraine, Romina Kuko, Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs of Albania, and Zviad Barkaia, Deputy Head of the Georgian Government Administration.
In his opening speech, Rodrigo Ballester, Head of the MCC's Center of European Studies, said: "It is important to discuss how the current geopolitical situation affects EU enlargement policy. Péter Sztáray, Secretary of State for Security Policy and Energy Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that Hungary has always been a supporter of EU and NATO enlargement. According to him, the European Political Community provides a useful platform for countries from different backgrounds to build relations with each other. The State Secretary also reminded that the European Political Community should not override the rules of the European Union and should not be a tool for deepening integration. Hungary has always been in favour of the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, which is crucial for the stability of the region, he stressed, adding that each candidate country must meet the same set of criteria.
The European Political Community is a platform that will help to further deepen relations between European countries, said Zviad Barkaia, Deputy Head of the Georgian Government Administration, in his welcome speech. He also recalled that the idea of a European Political Community was already on Charles de Gaulle's mind. Georgia has been working for many years to maintain good relations with the European Union, he said, but stressed that his country is not losing sight of its goal: to become a member of the European Union.
The opening ceremony was followed by an exciting panel discussion to introduce participants to different aspects of the European Political Community. The first panel discussion was about the European Political Community, with Péter Sztáray; Szabolcs Horváth, cabinet expert of EU Commissioner Olivier Várhelyi; Daniel Höltgen, Director of Communication of the Council of Europe; and Rodrigo Ballester.
The following block focused on the relations between the European Political Community and the Western Balkans, with the participation of Romina Kuko, Albanian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs; Igor Bandovic, Director of the Centre for Security Policy in Belgrade and Aleksandar Nacev, Dean of the European University in Skopje.
The final panel discussion of the conference addressed the question of whether the European Political Community is the right accelerator for the EU's Eastern Partnership in these geopolitically turbulent times. This was answered by Pavlo Klimkin, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine; Márton Ugrósdy, Deputy State Secretary for the Political Director’s Office; Tomasz Grosse, Editor-in-Chief of the International Analyzes quarterly; and Attila Demkó, Head of the Center for Geopolitics of MCC.