“Hungary is a committed and strong supporter of Ukrainian reform processes, also in view of the fact that it is a neighbour and in the interests of the 150 thousand Hungarians living in Ukraine”, Péter Szijjártó said in London on Thursday.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who attended a conference in London on Ukrainian reforms organised by the British and Ukrainian governments, told Hungarian news agency MTI: “Hungary felt it was ‘very unsportsmanlike’ that the European Union kept Ukraine waiting for so long to receive visa-free travel and an association agreement”.


“Hungary has done a lot in the interests of successful Ukrainian reforms, for example providing a 50 million dollar credit line for infrastructure developments”, Mr. Szijjártó said. At the conference in London on Thursday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade came to an agreement with his Ukrainian counterpart on setting up a working group charged with drawing up infrastructure development programmes.

However, the Minister said that there also exists a worrying phenomenon that Hungary cannot ignore, refereeing to three bills for new legislation that are currently before Ukraine’s parliament which, if adopted - and it would seem that the required political will does indeed exist - would lead to a drastic worsening in the status of minorities, including the Hungarian minority.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister asked representatives of the Ukrainian Government to help ensure that these bills are not adopted by parliament. “We are happy to continue to assist Ukraine in future, but these are unacceptable legislative amendments that would clearly determine our future relations to a major degree”, Mr. Szijjártó said.


“The Ukrainian party has promised to maintain communication and rational dialogue on the subject, but the most reassuring solution would be to revoke these bills”, he said.

Mr. Szijjártó’s program of events in London on Thursday includes a meeting with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Secretary of State for managing the Brexit process David Davis.

“Hungarian-British trade flow was 5.2 billion euros last year, and increased by a further 8 percent during the first four months of this year. The 800 British enterprises operating in Hungary currently employ over 50 thousand people and Great Britain is the sixth largest investor in the Hungarian economy”, he told the press.

“This is one of the reasons why Hungary’s standpoint is that it has an interest in a fair and mutually advantageous Brexit agreement, because every single obstacle to trade and economic relations wold also harm the Hungarian economy”, the Foreign Minister explained.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, Hungary has an interests in the realisation of a comprehensive trade agreement as a result of the Brexit negotiations between Great Britain and the European Union, and in a treaty that provides the foundations for a new strategic partnership.


Mr Szijjártó told his British negotiating partners that Hungary supports the approach according to which the rights of citizens must be mutually guaranteed and that he greatly appreciates the fact that the British are holding negotiations accordingly.

However, Mr. Szijjártó said there also exists a “nightmare scenario” which would occur if the European Commission were to negotiate inflexibly or were to regard certain revenge criteria as being more important than constructive negotiation. In such a case, it might occur that a free trade agreement does not come about, but following Brexit the British will be free to conclude such agreements with, for instance, the United States, India, Turkey and Australia, i.e. economies that are increasingly becoming the powerhouses of the global economy, but which do not have free trade agreements with the EU.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, if this scenario were realised the EU’s competitiveness would be significantly reduced, and the consequences would be borne mainly by countries with very open economies such as Hungary.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)