“Germany is Hungary’s most important economic partner and its strategic ally in several areas”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó emphasised at a press conference in Budapest following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that there are some highly important issues on which the two countries do not agree, such as action against migration, but less time had to be spent discussing these disputed issues during the meeting than on discussing those on which the two countries share a common standpoint. “The two countries are allies within the fields of the defence industry and the economy, as well as on the issue of enlargement and the development of countries that are the sources of migration”, he said.

With relation to defence policy and the defence industry, the Minister said that during the first eight months of this year Hungary had imported the most weapons from Germany, and military technology is contributing to the modernisation of the Hungarian Defence Force and to enabling Hungary to fulfil its undertaking to NATO to increase the ratio of its annual defence spending to 2 percent of GDP.

“Joint international missions to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo were also a subject of discussion at the meeting, as well as the idea of the establishment of a multinational Central European division, which the Germans also support”, Mr. Szijjártó added.

He also said that the two countries are also allies in the development of regions that are the sources of migration: “Hungary was the first state to provide funding to Germany’s water industry project in Uganda, of over 300 million forints (EUR 910 thousand), the two countries are jointly participating in a forestry management development project in Ethiopia, and are also planning a join Lebanese aid operation”.

“Our alliance is also close within the field of trade and the economy: Germany is one of Hungary’s most important foreign policy partners and its most important economic partner. Trade flow between the two countries almost reached 55 billion euros last year, and a year on-year increase of four percent has already been registered during the first eight months of this year, meaning we are expected to break the existing record this year”, he explained.

“Hungarian exports exceeded 20 billion euros during the first eight months of this year, and enterprises with a German background are providing jobs to 300 thousand people in Hungary”, Mr. Szijjártó said, adding that several German companies have already announced new development projects this year and the Hungarian government is affording German enterprises the maximum level of funding towards these investments.

“The two countries also share a position with relation to EU enlargement, and on the fact that the integration of the Western Balkans, which is also in Hungary’s security, economic and strategic interests, should be a realistic perspective”, the Minister stated. He added that Hungary and Germany are also allies with relation to the issue of global free trade in view of the fact that both countries would like competitiveness to be the deciding factor in global economic processes.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed that maintaining and reinforcing dialogue, and the fact that the parties should attempt to find joint solutions, is important despite any differences in opinion. “Germany has an interest in the further reinforcement of diverse economic, scientific and civil relations, and in the development of the Hungary-Germany Youth Forum and the twin city relations between Berlin and Budapest”, he highlighted.

The Minister told reporters that rule of law standards, the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press were also mentioned during the meeting, with relation to which the parties also discussed the proposal put forward by Germany and Belgium according to which the rule of law should be evaluated based on dialogue between member states. Mr. Maas also added that open questions such as the fundamental values of the European Union and certain financial issues will be placed onto the agenda during Germany’s upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union. He also said that the member states of the European Union should strive to represent a joint standpoint with relation to China, the United States and Turkey.

The German Foreign Minister thanked Hungary for its opening of the border thirty years ago, declaring that the reunification of Germany would have been impossible without Hungary’s courage and solidarity. Mr. Maas also commemorated the anniversary of the quashing of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and fight for freedom.

In response to a question on whether Hungary could modify its defence industry cooperation with Turkey in light of the Syrian offensive, Mr. Szijjártó said we must not forget that Turkey is a member of NATO, and accordingly it is natural to realise military industry cooperation with it. With relation to this, Heiko Maas pointed out that Turkey is an important member of NATO, and accordingly the alliance expects it to behave as a partner.

In response to a question on the possible expansion of the scope of the Malta agreement, Mr. Szijjártó made it clear that Hungary will not be admitting any migrants and will not be supporting any kind of agreement that could lead to a mandatory resettlement quota. The German Foreign Minister said that the parties had discussed the issue of migration with absolute openness during the meeting, but Germany would like there to be progress with relation to the joint migration process. He pointed out, however, that there are countries that are not admitting refugees, but these countries are undertaking a greater role in other areas, such as eliminating the root causes of migration and the protection of the EU’s external border.