Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Szijjarto: New power relations in ‘brave new world’

A "brave new world" has begun in politics and economics, with new power relations heightening competition, the foreign minister said on Thursday. Peter Szijjarto told a meeting of Hungarian ambassadors that two kinds of competition had emerged: one to procure vaccines and the other for the global redistribution of economic capacities.

“This competition will determine the tasks of Hungary’s diplomacy and foreign mission heads in the years ahead,” he said in his speech posted on Facebook.

The current competition for vaccines is similar to that for ventilators, protective gear and face masks in the spring, he said. Initially, everyone said that products made in the East were of inferior quality and should not be imported, but then within a short time “we saw that the whole of Europe was buying masks, ventilators and protective clothing for doctors and nurses from China”, he added.

The reason for such criticism has not changed since the launch of the government’s opening to the East: “those already present in this market do not want to face competition.”

“Not to mention that as long as we can be attacked for making purchases from the East, it is possible to avoid answering such questions as: what is the reason for the European Union making fewer and slower vaccine acquisitions than originally expected,” Szijjarto said.

“We have a national interest” to protect people’s lives, health and jobs, he added.

Szijjarto said Hungary’s partial lockdown caused 15 billion forints (EUR 43m) of losses to the national economy each day and some 100-150 people were dying every day. “So nobody should tell the government from where it should and shouldn’t buy vaccines.”

He added that whereas 114 million people had lost their jobs globally during the pandemic, in Hungary the number of jobholders was currently the same as before the crisis. He said Hungarian exports exceeded 100 billion euros last year, the 34th highest figure globally, whereas Hungary has the 94th biggest population.

He urged participants at the meeting to remember “the battles that the government had to fight” in order to pursue its economic policy instead of handing out money for redistribution.

“Those who can attract investments amid the current circumstances can gain a great competitive advantage,” he said.

He asked the ambassadors to focus on encouraging investments and supporting Hungarian exports.

The target for the next year is to make Hungary and Hungarians “winners of the new global economic era”, he said, adding that national interests must determine Hungarian foreign policy.

“Nobody knows better what’s best for Hungarians than Hungarians themselves … and we mustn’t accept anyone telling us what would be best for us,” he said, thanking the diplomats for their “heroic” service during the pandemic over the past year.

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