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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a joint press statement with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic (not pictured) in Budapest, Hungary, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo


BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The European Union should step up efforts to integrate the Balkans, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday, adding that Budapest would aim to accelerate the accession of its southern neighbour, Serbia.

"We must integrate the Balkans into the EU, the EU itself has already accepted that," Orban told a Hungarian-Serbian business forum. "It has also provided a date, 2025. We are not happy with this date, we think it is modest, this is too distant."

Orban met Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic earlier in the day in Budapest.

The EU acted on Tuesday to reinvigorate the membership ambitions of six Balkan states and reclaim the region as its own amid growing Russian and Chinese influence, setting 2025 as a goal for Serbia and Montenegro to join.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs)

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