“It is in Hungary’s interests for the most extensive and comprehensive free trade agreement possible to come about between Great Britain and the European Union from the time when Great Britain exits the EU”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at a meeting with his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt in New York on the sidelines of the high-level General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, which began on Tuesday.

“This is what can assure that economic cooperation can weather the situation caused by Brexit with the least possible loss”, he underlined.

In a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following the talks, Mr. Szijjártó said that the parties had primarily reviewed questions relating to Brexit at the extremely friendly meeting.

“The situation currently isn’t looking very good with relation to the successful closing of the exit negotiations, since time is flying, and for the moment, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we are moving towards a solution with huge strides”, he said.

“It is in Hungary’s interests for the negotiations to definitely conclude with an agreement that is acceptable to both parties, Great Britain and the remaining European Union”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed, pointing out that Hungary has an open economy and its economic growth is determined to a great extent by external factors, and accordingly it has a major interest in being able to perform free trade with its most important economic partners. If the Brexit talks do not end in an agreement, investment and trade cooperation between EU member states and Great Britain will become extremely difficult, and will be reduced to a fraction of its current level in view of the fact that World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations would apply to such cooperation, and relations would become hindered by customs duties and similar obstacles.

Mr. Szijjártó also emphasised that according to Hungary’s position, in view of the continent’s current situation it also cannot afford to do without the cooperation of Great Britain within the field of security. “Never before has Europe had to face such a high threat of terrorism; never before has the security situation been so fragile”, he underlined. The British have a secret service, intelligence and defence system that is unrivalled both in Europe and internationally, and accordingly it is in the interests of the EU to maintain cooperation. For this reason, Hungary is calling for the British to continue to be involved in EU missions, because otherwise the majority of these missions will need to be terminated. The Hungarian Government is also calling for the closest possible security policy cooperation to be established between the EU and the United Kingdom, he explained, adding that in his opinion this is also in the interests of the British Government.

Mr. Szijjártó declared that he regards the “real or perceived goal, which many attribute to the European Commission, and which to all intents and purposes concerns the fact that we must take revenge on the British for exiting the EU and show them what a bad decision it was” as wrong. “We must push this childish approach to the background and conclude the closest and most comprehensive possible agreement with the British in accordance with the interests of Europe”, he added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade held a total of 12 bilateral meeting on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the session of the UN General Assembly. In addition to Jeremy Hunt, he also met, amongst others, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Moldovan Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Bilateral cooperation agreement, primarily within the fields of education and diplomacy, were concluded at four of these meetings: with Palestine, Namibia, Moldova and Tunisia. He also held talks with UN Under-Secretary-General Jan Beagle and Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

According to plan, the Hungarian Foreign Minister is scheduled to make a speech at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)