Daily News Hungary | Mar 24, 2019 | 1
Hungarian foreign minister: EU must strike fair deal with UK
Budapest (MTI) – The European Union should strike a fair and honest deal with Britain because without one the economy will lose out, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Szijjártó told a news conference that the EU should not negotiate from a position of resentment, since this would not lead to a good outcome.
Talks should aim towards as comprehensive and broad free-trade deal as possible which leads to the closest possible economic, trading and investment cooperation, the minister said, adding that Britain is an important trading partner for Hungary.
Given that currently the bloc faces the most grave terror threat in its existence, close security cooperation between the EU and Britain should be maintained so that collective defence can be relied on, he said.
A deal should be reached on protecting the rights of EU citizens working in Britain as quickly as possible, Szijjártó said, adding that it is a fair proposition that the rights of Britons working in the EU should be guaranteed in exchange. This is a good basis for negotiation, he said.
He said Brexit had been bad news for the whole of Europe and Hungary, since the bloc’s second-biggest economy and the world’s fifth-biggest would be leaving the EU. It is also a reflection of failure on the part of Brussels that Britons had decided to exit the union, yet the consequences in terms of the careers of politicians had only taken place in London, not in Brussels, the minister said.
Szijjártó argued that the decision of Britons should be respected, and only they had the right to decide over the future of their country. For this reason, all critical approaches to their decision must be rejected, he added.
Radical changes are under way around the world and some understand this while others dispute it. But even those that refused to accept that a new world order is developing must now accept that they were wrong, Szijjártó said.
Recent months have made it clear that “praised models of the past have failed” and dogmas formerly considered unbreakable have disappeared, he said. A far more patriotic US foreign and economic policy is taking shape. Britain is leaving the EU and the crisis in EU-Russia relations is deepening because of the EU’s stubbornness. Meanwhile, China is radically expanding, Szijjártó said.
Europe must not make another mistake as this would have disastrous consequences and Europe would fall behind irreparably, he added.
He described the British prime minister’s Tuesday remarks as straightforward and clear. Such open and sincere communication is necessary for an agreement satisfactory to both Britain and the EU. The deal that needs to be achieved has no precedent, he said.
Responding to a question, Szijjártó said the approach that certain circles try to promote, namely that civil organisations are the true representatives of the people and societies, was wrongheaded, given that civil organisations are not elected by the people. Whereas the people are represented by MPs and the governments that are formed after the elections, civil groups are set up on the basis of civil initiatives, and they form an opinion on certain issues. It is a rightful expectation that in the case of NGOs that express views about public affairs, everybody should be able to see the sources of their financing, Szijjarto said.
The minister said Hungarian-born American financier George Soros had had significant influence on US foreign policymaking, but this was likely to change now. Soros’s opinion about the current government in Hungary is well known, but he is not the one to decide who should govern the country; that’s a decision made by the voters, he said.