Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó arrived in Washington on Monday afternoon, and prior to his two days of negotiations stressed: “This could mean the beginning of a new chapter in Hungarian-American political relations”.

In a preliminary statement to Hungarian news agency MTI, the Minister stated: “There are extremely important changes going on within the U.S. State Department, such as the fact that Wess Mitchell has been appointed Under Secretary for our regions, and this could mean the beginning of a new chapter in Hungarian-American political relations”.

“Hungarian-American political relations rest on three pillars, two of which have always operated impeccably”, Mr. Szijjártó emphasised, pointing out that economic cooperation is excellent, U.S. companies represent the second most significant investor community in Hungary, with 1700 American enterprises providing jobs for 100 thousand Hungarians. The Minister said defence policy cooperation was also excellent.

“As a member of NATO, Hungary is one of the United States’ main allies in the fight against terrorism, and we are one of a group of countries that are fighting terrorism not only in words, but also in deeds”, he stressed. Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that we have 200 military personnel in Iraq and a total of 1000 Hungarian soldiers are serving abroad on the side of American soldiers.

However, according to the Minister the third, political pillar of relations has not been operating suitably. “We had to face several instances of undue criticism, and on several occasions experiences a lack of understanding with relation to America’s view of Hungarian measures”, he said, stressing that the appointment of the new Under Secretary for our region could allow us to “open a new chapter”.

“In comparison to previous years, now is the best opportunity for our political relations to grow up to the level of our economic and defence relations”, Hungarian chief diplomat said.

Immediately following his arrival in Washington, on Monday evening the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade met with representatives of the region’s 15 Hungarian organisations. On Tuesday, the Minister will hold a meeting with Wess Mitchell - “It will be a long discussion”, Mr. Szijjártó said – following which he will hold talks with President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Europe and Russia Fiona Hill.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade will also be discussing Hungarian investment opportunities with one of the associate directors of Procter & Gamble, will be taking part in a conference organised by the Brookings Institute with the participation of representatives of America’s most important think tanks, and will be holding a lecture on the elements and experiences of Hungarian tax reforms and on the Hungarian economic model in general at a conference organised by the prestigious and highly influential conservative organisation, Americans for Tax Reform.

“In 2010, Hungary was still part of the problem in Europe, but during the past seven years we have built the Hungarian model, which has proven to be extremely successful”, the Minister told MTI. “The model’s economic achievements are spoken of with respect, the U.S. administration is also monitoring the Hungarian measures, and it is no accident that Americans for Tax Reform has organised a conference especially to discuss Hungarian tax measures”, he added.

“The Hungarian model rests on four pillars, the first of which is competitiveness, with regard to which Hungary has made significant progress in recent years and now provides Europe’s most attractive economic environment thanks to having introduced the lowest level of corporation tax in Europe. The second pillar is facilitating positive processed within the field of demographics through supporting Hungarian families and stopping population decline”, Mr. Szijjártó explained. The third pillar of the Hungarian model is the work-based society, the essence of which is that the Hungarian Government is helping to assure that everyone who wants to work can find work, he continued. The Minister highlighted the importance of the fourth pillar: identity.

“We are not breaking away from our Hungarian national and cultural identity, because if we were to do so we would become totally and permanently weakened”, he stressed.

Mr. Szijjártó said the Hungarian model was extremely successful. Thanks to the model, “over the past seven years we have succeeded in bringing Hungary back from the edge of the precipice and Europe’s bench of disgrace”, and today the country “has become one of the determining countries of Central Europe’s engine of growth, and this is something that people are also acknowledging here in America”, he said.

According to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Hungarian-American relations have already begun to gain impetus recently. One of the indications of this was a visit to Budapest by a delegation from the U.S. Congress in November, and at the end of January another delegation from America’s legislative body will be visiting Hungary, in addition to which a visit by American politicians is also being planned for March. “The current American administration shares the Hungarian Government’s standpoint on several important international issues”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed.

The Minister praised the letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by Republican lawmakers in which the politicians called for an immediate improvement in Hungarian-American relations on the part of the United States’ chief diplomat, and for the immediate suspension of the so-called grant programme previously announced by the State Department to fund certain sections of the Hungarian media prior to the upcoming elections. “The Hungarian Government views this plan was as interference in domestic affairs”, Mr. Szijjártó told MTI.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)