We should welcome the home of Rubik's cube

Taken from a speech delivered by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, to the Hungarian Ambassadors' Conference, in Budapest

Share

The greatest challenge that the European Union faces today is to complete the reunion of Europe. We must right the wrongs of the past century. I want to see a zone of peace, prosperity, stability and democracy from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from Portugal to Poland.

The greatest challenge that the European Union faces today is to complete the reunion of Europe. We must right the wrongs of the past century. I want to see a zone of peace, prosperity, stability and democracy from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from Portugal to Poland.

The fall of the Iron Curtain ended the division of our continent by political systems. Enlargement will end the division of our continent by standards of prosperity. The EU has not only brought peace to its nations. It has made us more prosperous, created more jobs and liberated our citizens to live, work, and travel within the EU's borders. I look forward to the day when Hungarian kalacs, Polish kielbasa and Czech knedlicky are as common in British shops as croissants, salami and pumpernickel already are. As a start, we could make Bikaver as common as Beaujolais.

Enlargement is in the EU's own interests. Accession of the Central Europeans will boost the GDP of the present member states by 11 billion euros every year. It will make all member states richer: with half a billion people, it will be more than twice the size of the second largest single market, the US. It will make us all stronger: because the bigger the club, the bigger the clout.

European integration has been a major force for security and freedom in Europe for the last 50 years. It has made partners out of France, Germany and Britain - countries who found themselves at war twice in the last 100 years. It has laid the ghost of fascism in southern Europe by consolidating democracy in Greece, Spain and Portugal. Enlargement will help make our continent more stable.

The EU must treat each applicant country individually on the progress it has made. Each country should be eligible to join as soon as it is ready to do so. I have no doubt that Hungary is among those at the head of the queue. Only your efforts can ensure that you remain there.

Britain believes that the time is approaching when the European Union could concentrate minds by setting a target date for the conclusion of negotiations with those countries that are ready for membership.

The history of the EU is full of examples where, with imagination and hard work, we have found solutions to the most intractable problems - from the problems of Arctic farmers in Finland to the use of snuff in Sweden. I am confident that, with similar certainty and effort, we can resolve the negotiating difficulties that we face today.

We should be fair. Existing member states benefited from transitional arrangements when they acceded. We must be realistic. It is clearly in your own interest to be full members, accepting the whole acquis once any transitional periods have expired. But the obligations of membership will be costly to implement.

And we should be generous. Existing members of the EU have a huge economic advantage over the applicant countries. The EU can afford to open markets rapidly to new members.

And if we take that constructive approach to negotiations, then I believe we can maintain the timetable we have set ourselves in order to make Europe ready for enlargement to help the applicants to be ready for membership.

In the last century Hungary has made an immense contribution to European life and culture. Bartok made his own distinctive contribution to our range of classical music. Solti influenced how we heard the classical music of our own nations. Biro made life easier for millions across Europe whenever they needed to jot something down. And Rubik drove demented the same number of millions with his geometric device. It is a measure of the scientific and artistic talent of this country that it has produced no fewer than 11 Nobel prize winners.

A country that is so rich in talent will bring added strength to the European Union.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of his latest film The Imitation Game  

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

Matthew Norman
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy