“Transatlantic relations are important to Budapest”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a conference in Washington on Wednesday evening.

The politician participated in an event jointly organised by U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council and Bratislava-based security and sustainable development research institute GLOBSEC. The two-day conference, which was attended by ministers, political analysts and ambassadors, examined the relationship between the United States and Central Europe.

The U.S. State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for European & Eurasian Affairs Philip T. Reeker, who has worked in Budapest as a diplomat, stressed that the United States and Central Europe are linked by a host of fundamental values.

He said that in the recent period American politics had neglected this region, but following years of disinterest and occasional differences of opinion, Washington has now returned to Central Europe. “There is no doubt that some of our Central European NATO allies felt that our relations had become bogged down and tense”, Mr. Reeker stated. The Trump administration has committed itself to “a politics that rests on principles”, he underlined.

With relation to this, Mr. Szijjártó explained: “A few years ago we were still faced with the fact that we are not on U.S. foreign policy’s radar”. “We are happy that the United States is now counting on Central Europe as a strategically important region”, he added.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz and Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Aleš Chmelař both voiced their support for the reinforcement of transatlantic relations. Poland’s chief diplomat called such relations “vital”.

Energy security issues and the Three Seas Initiative economic cooperation, which includes 12 EU member states, were also discussed at the conference. “It is easy to talk about energy independence, but it is now up to the United States and our European allies to take action with relation to the issue”, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted.

The Minister pointed out that although there may be plans for the construction of new gas pipelines, for instance in Croatia, but until these are realised Hungary has no other choice than to purchase Russian gas. “This is what the infrastructure dictates”, he stated.

In reply to a question, the Minister also spoke about suggestions concerning the rule of law. “When they attack us, I always say: let them mention one concrete issue at least”, he underlined.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz supplemented this, stating: “They are attacking us because liberal ideals do not prevail in our governments, and because we are practicing anti-migrant politics”.

With relation to the European Parliament elections and the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen for the post of European Commission president, Mr. Szijjártó explained that the countries of Central Europe also played a part in this, and that thanks to its increasing economic strength and strong solidarity, the region has risen to become the European Union’s decision-making power. “We undoubtedly do have an influence on the future of the European Union”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister declared.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)