Hungarian foreign policy in the next four years will continue to aim towards protecting the country’s sovereignty and security while improving its economic competitiveness, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said on Wednesday.
In a lecture at the National University of Public Service, Szijjártó said that protecting sovereignty and security was an important goal but the endeavour was bound to lead to legal and political battles.
Hungary’s efforts to put foreign policy on a new footing, he said, meant attaching importance not only to its political aspects but to its economic functions, too. He added that it was his duty to identify and enforce Hungary’s economic interests.
He said the EU had never before faced such a combination of challenges as migration, terrorism, the war in Ukraine, Brexit and energy security.
“The problem is not that there’s a debate,” he said. “But when someone represents a point of view that diverges from the mainstream, it is a problem if they are branded as un-European.” He said there was common agreement shared by Hungary on the ultimate goal of having a strong Europe. Hungary believes that strong member states are a precondition for a strong EU, he added.
Szijjártó said migration was not a fundamental human right. Hungary maintains that everyone can live in peace and security in their own country, and this must be guaranteed to everyone.
Hungary also insists that a key attribute of sovereignty is a country’s ability to guard its own border, Szijjártó said.
Every country also has the right to determine what responses it gives to its economic and demographic challenges, he added.
On the topic of the next EU budget, he said EU money for central European member states was based on the contractual fulfilment of obligations. Western member states profited enormously when central European countries opened up their markets, he added.
Szijjártó also said Hungary had supported Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration as one of its foreign policy pillars. But in light of the adoption of its education law which strips some minority students of their right to study in their mother tongue, Hungary is vetoing the NATO-Ukraine ministerial committee meetings, he noted. Hungary wants to go back to its supportive policy, but this depends entirely on Ukraine, Szijjártó said.
Meanwhile, on the subject of economic diplomacy, the minister said that related changes in the recent past had profoundly changed the nature of foreign policy and its associated tasks. “This is especially true of Hungary, a country with a very open economy located in a geographically sensitive area.”
He said it had been important to recognise that, given the country’s size and military strength, “no one would expect us to provide the solutions to the great global crises”.
The minister also referred to his disputed decision in 2014 to combine traditional diplomacy with foreign trade under one roof.
Szijjártó said that as result of this decision, however, between 2014 and 2017, every year had posted a record in foreign trade.
The automotive industry is particularly significant globally, he said, noting that it is the backbone of Hungary’s economy. A pivotal aim is to ensure that the automotive industry plays an innovative role and that “more and more new technologies are developed and put into use here,” he said.
Featured image: MTI