Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Successful Hungary-Ireland economic ties a good basis for political dialogue

Though the two countries disagree on several issues, "successful economic cooperation" between Hungary and Ireland provides a good foundation for political dialogue, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Dublin on Monday.

According to a ministry statement, Szijjarto said he had discussed Hungary’s preparations for its upcoming European Union presidency along with Europe’s security and economic situation with the Irish foreign minister, Micheal Martin.

Szijjarto noted that there are 15,000-20,000 Hungarians living in Ireland, and Hungary will soon open a consular mission in Cork.

Trade turnover between Hungary and Ireland reached a record 2 billion euros last year, he said. The two countries concluded agreements on six major Irish business investments in Hungary over the past decade, and recently Hungarian pharmaceutical company Gedeon Richter has carved itself a substantial market share selling gynecology products in the country, he added.

“So there are success stories, but there are obviously also disagreements on political issues,” Szijjarto said. “We will be assuming the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union at a very dangerous time, since Europe faces numerous security and economic challenges.”

To address these issues, Szijjarto said Hungary would do everything during its presidency to advance the EU accession of the Western Balkan countries. He said if the EU failed to advance the accession process over the coming months, it would raise questions over the credibility of the bloc’s enlargement policy.

Hungary will also continue the fight against illegal migration, he said, emphasising that the country would not give up its right to decide whom it wants to live together with. Neither would Hungary accept any redistribution quotas or a penalty for refusing to take in migrants, he added.

Also, he said, Hungary insists that taxation must remain a national competence, explaining that having “the lowest payroll taxes in the EU”, the flat-rate taxes, including the personal income tax, and the only single-digit corporate tax rate gave Hungary “a huge competitive advantage”.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said there was an overlap between Hungary’s and Ireland’s positions on certain matters related to sovereignty “which we will possibly cooperate on with the Irish colleagues during the six months of the EU presidency”.

Szijjarto said he was later scheduled to hold talks with representatives of Eaton Corporation, which employs more than 1,000 people in Hungary.

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