Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto at Davos: East-West cooperation in central Europe’s interest

Central Europe has always lost out on conflict between geopolitical blocs, and so sees faltering cooperation between the east and the west as "the worst possible news", Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
17. January 2023 17:30

Hungary and the region has a vested economic and national security interest in pragmatic cooperation between east and west based on mutual respect and advantages, the ministry quoted Szijjarto as saying.

That project has been up in the air since the end of 2021, along with Eurasian cooperation, a sound baseline for cooperation up to then, he said.

To reverse that process, “mutual respect will [need to] return into international politics – unfortunately, we have seen a total lack of mutual respect. Second, everyone should understand that physical realities cannot be overridden either by political approach or by ideology…. Communication channels will have to be kept open between those who are not very happy to talk to each other,” he said.

Regarding globalisation, the foreign minister said international powers had used it to “aggressively spread their political narratives” worldwide, and stigmatised non-mainstream opinions in the process.

He said central Europe could see much worse times than the cold war in the coming period. “It might look different from hundreds or thousands of kilometres away, but Russia is part of reality, the closer we are to it, the more it is a reality,” he said. Maintaining channels of communication is key, “or the world will give up every hope” of peace in Ukraine, he said.

Touching on the conflict between the US and China, Szijjarto said there were “political efforts” to wean the western economy from China, but they have not impacted the private sector. He pointed to Hungary as an example which he said had become a “European hub for electric transition”.

Seven of the 10 largest manufacturers of batteries for electric cars are Chinese, and they are indispensable for western car companies, he said.

Asked whether the Hungarian government was trying to make its “infringements on human rights” acceptable by making the country indispensable in European car manufacturing, Szijjarto said “our government is clearly not one of the liberal mainstream; it is right-wing, patriotic and Christian Democrat, which is unusual in Europe. The liberal mainstream will always criticise the leadership because of that, but they have to respect the fact that the ruling parties won landslide victories in the past four elections,” he said.

Hungary guaranteed to draw record investments in 2023

Hungary’s government is set to announce hundreds of billions of forints worth of new investments in the coming period, guaranteeing that the country will again draw record investments this year, the minister of foreign affairs and trade said. The world’s biggest companies all speak highly of Hungary’s investment environment, Peter Szijjarto said after meeting executives from Coca-Cola, LEGO, Apollo Tyres, AstraZeneca, Dell Technologies and Greenlabs on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, according to a ministry statement.

“LEGO, Coca-Cola, Apollo Tyres and AstraZeneca are all companies that are counting on Hungary as a global or European research and development centre,” Szijjarto said. Most of them have investments in Hungary and plan to make new ones, he added.

The world’s top companies value Hungary’s political stability and low taxes, and speak highly of Hungary’s well-trained and loyal workforce, the minister said.

“I can confidently say after today’s talks that Hungary will again attract a record volume of investments this year, just as it did last year,” Szijjarto said.

“Although it’s only January — and it may seem like we’re speaking too soon — but having seen, and being familiar with, the talks held again today, we’re going to be able to announce hundreds of billions of forints worth of manufacturing and R+D investments in Hungary in the coming period,” Szijjarto said.

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