Budapest, Hungary. Photo: MTI

One of the lessons Europe can take away from the coronavirus pandemic is that it must never again allow itself to be vulnerable to external players when it comes to strategic matters, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Monday.

Strategic cooperation between the European Union and the United States should be strengthened accordingly, Szijjártó said in a video message on Facebook after a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council.

The EU’s strategic capacities should not be boiled down to a question of money, he said. “The protective equipment needed in extraordinary times is obviously not needed in times of peace … This is a strategic rather than a financial matter,” he said, adding that hopefully the EU and the US would boost their cooperation in this area.

Szijjártó also called for the EU to pursue a “pragmatic foreign policy” with regard to the US.

EU institutions, he said, should not habitually comment on America’s domestic political affairs and criticise its foreign policy measures, the minister said, adding that the EU should stay out of the US presidential election.

Szijjártó said

Monday’s meeting had also touched on US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, noting that the bloc had no unified position on the matter.

Hungary considers Israel a strategic ally and a friend, he said. So it opposes “the often one-sided, unbalanced and in many cases unfair approach international organisations apply to Israel,” he said.

Hungary also regularly vetoes resolutions and declarations at international forums that level “unwarranted and unfair criticisms at Israel”, Szijjártó said.

He said it was crucial that the peace process succeed, arguing that instability in the Middle East could lead to a rise in migration and the threat of terrorism. The EU needs a partnership with the Israeli government in order to achieve peace and stability in the region, Szijjártó added.

The meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council was also joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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