“Spain is an important ally of Hungary in view of the fact that both states are members of the same political and defence alliances: the European Union (EU ) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Monday in Budapest following a meeting with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation Josep Borrell.

Following the talks, Mr. Szijjártó said: Hungary, which “in view of its history is sensitive to issues of this kind” has always stood up in support of Spain’s territorial integrity and will continue to do so.

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The Hungarian Minister highlighted the fact that Spain is a G20 nation.

“Spanish is taught in over a hundred Hungarian schools, there are Spanish courses at four universities, and in recent years the two states have continuously had exchange diplomats at each other’s foreign ministries”, he stated.

Mr. Szijjártó said the EU is under pressure from historic challenges, and the Hungarians and Spanish have common views with relation to some of the required responses, but differing views on others. “It is however important that differences of opinion do not lead to each other’s condemnation, but that dialogue and mutual respect remain the norm”, he emphasised.

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The issue of migration was an important topic at the meeting. Mr. Szijjártó indicated that the two parties have a different approach to the issue of admitting migrants: Hungary does not want to admit illegal immigrants. “We have a similar view with regard to the importance of protecting the EU’s external borders, however, which we regard as a national sphere of competence, and also on helping states that are sources of migration: we both regard African development programmes as being extremely important”, he said.

The parties agreed to try and unite their efforts: while offering Hungarian water industry and water management capacities and exploiting the fact that Spain is already running programmes aimed at providing clean water, the two parties will be jointly contributing to ensuring that source countries of migration can provide their populations with suitable supplies of clean drinking water, primarily in North Africa.

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The parties are also in agreement with relation to the fact that there must be several forms of solidarity. Mr. Szijjártó indicated to his negotiating partner that Hungary regards the fact that it has spent over one billion euros on protecting the external border of the European Union as a form of solidarity.

“Spanish companies are playing an increasing role in improving the performance of the Hungarian economy. Dynamic Hungarian investments on the part of Spanish automotive industry suppliers are significantly helping Hungary to preserve its leading automotive industry position in Europe. More and more Spanish companies are also investing in the Hungarian hotel sector”, he explained.

Thanks to previous successful cooperation, another twenty-six new Spanish trams will be arriving in Budapest from February.

“Spain in Hungary’s eleventh most important trade partner, and trade flow between the two countries is some 4.5 billion euros”, the Hungarian Minister said, adding that the 250 Spanish companies operating in Hungary provide jobs to over 4500 Hungarians.

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In his statement, Josep Borrell said he thought the two ministers should meet more often, because it has been eleven years since a Spanish Foreign Minister last visited Hungary.

He said he had invited his negotiating partner to Spain to discuss how they could further develop Hungarian infrastructure, including the railway network. “Spain has the longest high-speed railway network after China, and Hungary is also planning similar projects”, he noted.

He highlighted the fact that the Hungarians are also showing major interest in Spain, and encouraged them to visit the Southern European state not only for its sunny climate, but also for its cultural traditions. “Many air passenger routes link the two countries”, Mr. Borrell added.

According to the Spanish Minister, the parties should strive to understand each other so that the chasm between East and West disappears.

In reply to a question on the protests in Budapest, Mr. Szijjártó said freedom of expression is one of the most important democratic rights, but violence and incitement to violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. He called the foreign press responses criticising the situation in Hungary pathetic and deceptive.

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Josep Borrell was also received by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)