“Hungary isn’t happy, but accepts the decision of the British people to exit the European Union”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s State Secretary for Information and the International Representation of Hungary said at the ‘Brexit: New Emphases, New Priorities’ forum organised by the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BKIK).

“One of the cornerstones of Hungarian foreign policy is that it respects the internal affairs of other countries and the decisions of the people who live there”, he stressed, pointing out that this approach is not present throughout the European Union.

“The work of the current European Commission may be judged by the fact that while the British are exiting the European Union, the migrants are inside it”, the State Secretary said.

In his speech, Mr. Menczer pointed out that thanks to Brexit the world’s fifth largest and Europe’s second largest economy, which represents over 14 percent of the European Union’s economy, is preparing to leave the European integration”.

On the subject of bilateral relations, the State Secretary explained that the United Kingdom is Hungary’s 11th most important trade partner; in 2018, bilateral trade flow exceeded 5.7 billion euros, including a Hungarian trade surplus of 2 billion euros. “The United Kingdom is the sixth largest investor in Hungary; the British companies currently operating in Hungary provide jobs for 55 thousand people, making them the fourth largest community of employers, and the Hungarian Government has concluded strategic cooperation agreements with four British companies to date”, he added.

“The Hungarian position on Brexit is that the parties must strive to achieve a fair and balanced agreement, and the previously acquired rights of Hungarian citizens living and studying their must not be impaired”, Mr. Menczer repeated, adding that Hungary has an interest in maintaining the closest and most unrestricted trade and economic relations possible.

In his speech, the State Secretary mentioned that the exit agreement between the EU and the British, which is yet to be adopted by UK Parliament, is in line with Hungarian interests and states that the rights of EU citizens living there, including Hungarian citizens, must not be impaired, and that the same must be true for British citizens living in the EU.

“However, Hungary is also preparing for the eventuality of a Brexit without an agreement, and the Hungarian Government has set up a working committee with the participation of the relative ministries, which is continuously monitoring and analysing the situation, and advising the Cabinet. The Hungarian National Assembly has completed its Brexit-related work, and the acquired rights of British citizens living in Hungary will remain, even if Brexit is realised without an agreement”, Mr. Menczer said, adding that the Government welcomes the position of the British administration, according to which London is prepared to guarantee the rights of EU citizens even if the exit occurs without an agreement.

The State Secretary emphasised that Hungary has an interest in the conclusion of a Brexit agreement, explaining that if no free trade agreement comes about between the United Kingdom and the EU, then the regulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will come into force, which would be disadvantageous to Hungary.

He pointed out that the United Kingdom is drawing up free trade agreements with other countries around the world, and if the EU fails to conclude a free trade agreement with the UK, then we will be at a competitive disadvantage.

“The fact that according to the draft agreement the United Kingdom would continue to fulfil all of its financial obligations until the end of the transitionary period, is a further argument in favour of an ordered exit”, the State Secretary highlighted, pointing out that close security and defence policy cooperation must be maintained with the British even after Brexit.

In his speech, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Hungary, Iain Lindsay said that at the 2016 referendum the British had voted to exit the European Union; they had not rejected European values, just expressed their will with relation to the functioning of their own democracy.

He stressed that the British Government is striving to achieve an ordered Brexit, and stressed that not a single EU citizen will have to leave Great Britain following its exit from the European Union.

Ambassador Lindsay spoke about the fact that political and economic relations between the two countries are good, explaining that Hungary is the UK’s third largest export market in Central and Eastern Europe, and the United Kingdom is the fifth largest investor of capital in Hungary.