“Hungary and Poland will continue to provide each other with all possible support in future during the course of the disputes they will be facing when searching for solutions to the challenges posed by the new world order that develops following the epidemic”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Wednesday in Budapest.

At a joint press conference following a meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted that he and his Polish counterpart represent two governments against which serious accusations and attacks have also been made during recent months. “Although these have proven to be unfounded, false attacks, none of those who have been continuously accusing us during the past months have apologised to either government” he stated.

“It is however also certain that the two countries can count on each other even in these difficult times”, he added. “In addition to friendship, Hungary and Poland also have a strategic alliance, and the two countries are applying an identical approach with relation to global political issues that pose a dilemma. Our governments stand on national foundations and regard the enforcement of national interests as their primary task and responsibility”, he pointed out.

The Minister said that in his opinion the countries of Central Europe have been particularly successful in handling the coronavirus epidemic, have kept the situation under control, and have succeeded in keeping the number of infected persons at a low level and slowing the spread of the epidemic, and as a result many Central European countries have already succeeded in taking significant steps in the interests of rebooting their economies.

“We have also provided support to each other in the fight against the epidemic: Poland has helped 109 Hungarian citizens to return home, while Hungary has assisted the return of 11 Polish citizens”, he recalled. “Hungary has also acquired 92 thousand ampules of medication used during the course of anaesthesia from Poland”, he added.

Mr. Szijjártó said Central Europe is at the focus of Hungarian foreign policy, and the continuous reinforcement of Central European cooperation is in Hungary’s national interests. “This is also one of the reasons why the Visegrád Group (V4) is so important, the Polish Presidency of which begins in July”, he explained.

“Poland is taking over the Presidency at a critical period during which a new world order is being established as a result of the epidemic, and which is giving rise to several issues that represent a challenge to Europe”, he opined.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister said the European Union’s upcoming seven-year multiannual financial framework is another important issue of the upcoming period. He and his Polish counterpart confirmed that cohesion funding must not be reduced, that they are committed to EU enlargement, and that they also agree with relation to the need to act against illegal migration, he stated.

“We are not prepared to take part in any kind of mandatory distribution mechanism, and will continue to refuse to allow entry to any illegal immigrants”, he added. The Minister also spoke about the fact that Poland is Hungary’s fourth most important trade partner, with bilateral trade flow exceeding 10 billion euros last year. “Hungary’s largest corporation, energy company MOL, is acquiring an increasingly large share of the Polish market”, he added.

“Another important task of the upcoming period in Central Europe will be the establishment of North-South infrastructure”, he pointed out.
Jacek Czaputowicz spoke about the fact that Poland will be taking over the rotating Presidency of the Visegrád Group in July, and is preparing for a dynamic Presidency, with meetings already planned for July, and want to show the world and Europe just how effective this cooperation is. The Polish politician also highlighted the fact that the countries of Central Europe have taken effective action against the coronavirus pandemic, the numbers of infected people and deaths are both much lower than in many other countries, and they are now already working on easing many of the restrictions.

He also spoke about the fact that criticism of Hungary is often totally unfounded, and people should refrain from such criticism.
In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó explained that Hungary is doing everything possible to protect jobs, which requires investments. “As a result, we expect the EU to further ease restrictive regulations that are making it more difficult for member states to fund the realisation of investment projects using national resources”, he declared.

Also in reply to a question from the press, the Polish Foreign Minister said: “We do not agree with plans to link EU funding to the rule of law, because it is impossible to determine objective criteria for this purpose”.

“It is totally irrelevant to us what the LIBE committee says, because it is a politically motivated body, and so far, it has always transpired that they have been lying about us”, Mr. Szijjártó added. “It is unacceptable to blur the European Union funding that is due to Hungary and Poland in accordance with the treaties with subjective conditions; there is no problem with the rule of law in either county, and the related disputes are leading to a weakening of Europe and the disintegration of European unity”, he stated.

In response to a question concerning border restrictions, Mr. Szijjártó said the agreement concluded with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to which Hungarian, Slovakian and Czech citizens can spend no longer that 48 hours in each other’s countries without the mandatory need to go into quarantine, came into force at midnight tonight. “This will hopefully soon transform into V4 cooperation”, he added.

“We are also currently in negotiation with Slovenia and Croatia with relation to similar measures”, he pointed out.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade / MTI)