The United Kingdom is one of Hungary’s most important allies, Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister, said after talks with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, on Friday.
At a joint press conference, Szijjarto said Hungary considered Britain’s exit from the European Union to be “a huge pity”.
“We greatly regret the decision of the British people, but only they have the right to decide on the future of their country.”
He said Brexit was the failure of the European Commission: the British government made clear its demands for staying in the EU but the commission “failed to listen to the words of Britons”.
The exit of Britain will be a serious economic loss for the EU and also a serious political loss because “we could always rely on [the UK] in disputes around the future of Europe” while defending the position that a strong EU can only be based on strong member states, Szijjarto said.
“We could always rely on Britain’s support in emphasising the importance of sovereignty.”
The minister said that by the end of negotiations on Brexit, a fair and honourable agreement should be reached between the EU and the UK. Hungary believes in the necessity for the deepest and most comprehensive free trade agreement possible. Internal security cooperation must remain serious in the face of the grave terrorist threat to Europe, as should cooperation in common defense and security policy, he added.
Szijjarto also noted that the Hungarian government regards the protection of the rights of Hungarians living in Britain as a priority.
He noted that Britain is Hungary’s 11th largest trade partner, with bilateral trade exceeding 5 billion euros last year. More than 800 British companies employ some 50,000 people in Hungary, he added.
Szijjarto said he had briefed Johnson on Hungary’s proposals regarding the United Nations migration package. The security of Hungarian people is paramount, he said, adding that Hungary’s proposals are that every country should have the right and obligation to protect its borders and the international community should help accordingly. Sovereignty must be respected and every country should decide who can be allowed to enter its territory, he added. Hungary will not let anyone neglect the country’s sovereignty and the security of Hungarians, Szijjarto said.
In response to a question, Szijjarto said Hungary was asking Britain to protect the rights of every Hungarian living there.
“Hopefully, the rise in salaries … will motivate Hungarians to stay,”
In response to another question, he said Hungary was aiming for pragmatic and rational cooperation with Russia, while several western European countries maintain much closer ties with Russia than Hungary.
The British foreign secretary said that although Britain was leaving the EU, it was not leaving Europe or Hungary. Johnson said bilateral relations were very close and the position of the two countries was similar in many respects.
On the subject of migration, he said Britain considered that the situation of migrants should be handled in their first country of arrival and a distinction should be made between refugees and illegal migrants. Further, the issue of migration should be left as a national competence, Johnson added.
Grateful to Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó for warm welcome and positive discussions on important foreign policy issues, and how we can intensify 🇬🇧-🇭🇺 ties. Köszönöm szépen! pic.twitter.com/62s7sNq7qZ
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 2018. március 2.
He also said it was important to protect the rights of Hungarians working in Britain because they made a significant contribution to the country’s achievements. At the same time, rights protection must be based on the principle of mutuality, so the protection of Britons’ rights in other European countries is also important.
Source and photo: MTI