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Hungary’s Foreign Minister visits Berlin: time for good compromises  Hungary

05.06.2018 - Article

When receiving his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó in Berlin, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made it clear that, despite all the differences of opinion, the EU must now demonstrate unity.

Foreign Minister Maas receives his Hungarian counterpart
Foreign Minister Maas receives his Hungarian counterpart© Thomas Imo/photothek.net

“We must intensify our dialogue,” emphasised Foreign Minister Maas right at the beginning of his meeting with the Hungarian Foreign Minister at Villa Borsig today. “It has seldom been so crucial for the EU to speak with one voice. While we are not always of the same opinion, we must now work to find good compromises.”

Common stance with regard to the United States’ punitive tariffs as well as Iran

There was agreement regarding the assessment of the punitive tariffs imposed by the US: “We fail to comprehend this unilateral measure, which is also incompatible with WTO rules,” said Maas at the Foreign Ministers’ joint press conference. The EU would have to closely coordinate its stance on this, he added. Germany and Hungary are also committed to maintaining the nuclear agreement with Iran. “These examples show how important a strong EU is. None of us is big enough to assert our interests alone,” said Maas.

Civil society and the rule of law 

Foreign Minister Maas had the following to say about Hungary’s controversial proposed legislation on non governmental organisations: “We discussed this issue very frankly here and I reiterated our concerns on behalf of the German side.” The fact that changes had already been made to the legislative procedure had been noted and welcomed, he added.

Heiko Maas gives Hungary’s Foreign Minister Szijjártó a sporty present
Heiko Maas gives Hungary’s Foreign Minister Szijjártó a sporty present© Thomas Imo/photothek.net

In order to actually meet the EU’s external challenges, it was good, he went on, to work now to intensify the bilateral dialogue between Germany and Hungary. Debates on reforms in the EU had therefore also been a topic of discussion, he said. Maas highlighted the German Hungarian Forum as a tangible project promoting German Hungarian cooperation, where particularly young people from both countries want to meet in Budapest in December.

Economic relations were a further important issue on their agenda. With approximately 6000 companies working in the country, Germany is by far and away Hungary’s biggest trading partner.

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