“Civilised dialogue is required instead of hypocrisy, even concerning the most difficult issues relating to the future of Europe”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Wednesday in Berlin prior to a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

In his statement in the presence of his German counterpart, Mr. Szijjártó stressed that “Europe’s economic axis has shifted towards Central Europe” and that this is indicated by the fact that trade flow between Germany and the countries of the Visegrád Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the V4) is 55 percent higher than trade flow between Germany and France and twice that between Germany and the United Kingdom.

“For this reason, cooperation between Germany and Central Europe is of key importance with regard to restoring Europe’s economic competitiveness”, the Minister said.

He stressed that as the current president of the V4, Hungary is at the forefront of developing cooperation. German-Hungarian economic relations have broken all previous records, with bilateral trade flow reaching 50 billion euros in 2017, an 8 percent increase on the previous year, and the 6000 German enterprises operating in Hungary provide jobs for 300 thousand people.

Hungary and Germany are in full agreement with relation to the fact that our most important task is to make Europe strong and competitive, the Hungarian Foreign Minister highlighted.

He added that Germany and Hungary also worked in close cooperation to improve defence cooperation between the European Union’s member states, which “played a leading role and gained indefeasible merit” in the establishment of the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO).

Sigmar Gabriel stressed that the links between the German and Hungarian economies are “practically endless”, in addition to which human and cultural relations are also extremely strong.

There are also differences of opinion, for instance with regard to the refugee issue and with relation to what constitutes a national or European sphere of competence. German-Hungarian relations can, however, “never be so difficult as to make us forget everything that connects us”, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician underlines, highlighting the fact that “the Hungarians knocked the first brick out of the Berlin Wall, for which the Germans will be eternally grateful”.

With relation to Mr. Gabriel’s statements, Mr. Szijjártó told the press that there are indeed issues with relation to which the Hungarian and German standpoints “do not necessarily correspond”, and “this is particularly true of the topic of migration”.

“Hungary regards the protection of the European Union’s external borders as our most important task and is committed to maintaining the Schengen system with no internal borders, in addition to which we believe that decisions on who can and cannot enter Europe must be made outside the territory of the European Union and that assistance must be taken to where the trouble is and not the other way around”, he added.

Hungary remains ready to conduct “a civilised discussion of these issues based on facts instead of stigmatisation and hypocrisy”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

Sigmar Gabriel highlighted the fat that differences of opinion must be discussed in the spirit of fairness and solidarity, and the development of an East-West split within the European Union must be avoided, because only in this way can “the good future of Europe” be assured.

The German Foreign Minister also cordially noted that despite the occasional public disputes between Hungarian and German politicians, he and his Hungarian counterpart understand each other well, and he has accepted Mr. Szijjártó’s invitation to reciprocate the Hungarian Foreign Minister’s official visit and travel to Budapest in the near future.