“Through the conclusion of the defence industry and nuclear cooperation agreements, French-Hungarian economic cooperation has entered a new dimension”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following a meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Mr. Szijjártó told the press that two French companies, including a state-owned company, have received major commissions to take part in the operating of the existing Paks Nuclear Power Plant and in the construction of the turbines of the planned new Paks Power Plant, in addition to which Hungary has ordered twenty Airbus helicopters from France.

“We are further reinforcing the French-Hungarian alliance that has already developed with relation to the peaceful application of nuclear energy, since both Hungary and France profess that the make-up of the national energy mix must remain within a national sphere of competence”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister emphasised. “The two countries will continue to work together to assure the equal handling of nuclear energy and to prevent its negative discrimination”, he added.

“The purchasing of helicopters raises Hungarian-French defence industry cooperation to another level within both NATO and Europe, while within the field of the automotive industry Peugeot plans to give its car plant in Szentgotthárd a major role in providing solutions to the challenges of the new, innovative industrial age” the Minister said.

“There are political issues with regard to which we do not agree (with France). We do agree, however, that it would be a waste of time to argue over these, and so instead, in future we will be talking more about true economic issues that are also important to the people, and will be placing emphasis on those”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The Minister was in Paris to attend the high-level French-German coordinative initiative on small arms and light weapons in the Western Balkans, where he also met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, with whom he reviewed the state of European energy security.

Mr. Szijjártó added that it is in Hungary’s interests to be able to acquire the quantity of natural gas required to assure its energy supply via as many routes as possible, in the interests of which it is negotiations with neighbouring countries on alternative gas sources, in addition to which it is also in talks with Russia concerning the period following the expiry of their existing long-term gas purchasing agreement.