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Orbán backs Bosnian EU accession ahead of controversial visit to separatist leader

Hungarian PM Orban shakes hands with the President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Kristo prior to their meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 4, 2024
Hungarian PM Orban shakes hands with the President of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Kristo prior to their meeting in Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 4, 2024 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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European and American leaders are increasingly worried about rising interethnic tensions stirred up by agitators in the Western Balkans.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has promised to support the accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU "as soon as possible" when his country takes over the European Council presidency in July.

Orbán made on his X during his visit to Sarajevo, stating that if the EU is serious about giving "new impetus" to the European economy and safeguarding against illegal migration, it will be essential to involve the Western Balkans.

Last month, the EU members made a political decision to start accession talks with Sarajevo.

According to a recent survey, 37% of Europeans support the country's admission, making it the second most favoured country for inclusion after Ukraine.

While endorsing Sarajevo's European ambitions, Orbán also plans to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina's Republika Srpska region this Friday.

He is scheduled to meet with its leader, Milorad Dodik, who is known for his pro-Russian stance and who has been accused of fulminating anger among ethnic Serbs against the 1990s peace agreement that divided Bosina and Herzegovina into two separate coexisting entities.

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned last month that thanks to the rhetoric and actions of leaders including Dodik, there is a serious risk of "localised interethnic violence" in the region, with external actors including Russia stirring up conflict for their own interests.

Dodik has announced his intention to present Orbán with Republika Srpska's most prestigious award during the visit.

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