Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Hungary had always based its foreign policy on mutual respect and it considered it a matter of principle to veto all European decisions that criticised sovereign US foreign policy decisions.
“Our foreign policy enables us to be honest,” he said at a joint press conference held with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It has enabled the discussion of such issues as relations with Russia, the growing economic influence of China and Hungarian-Ukrainian relations, he added.
“The lives of 150,000 ethnic Hungarians in western Ukraine are important to Hungary and therefore Hungary cannot consider the situation in Ukraine purely as a geopolitical matter,” he said.
Szijjártó noted that Hungary’s share in EU-China trade amounted to 1.2%. He added that it would be “hypocritical to criticise Hungary” for maintaining close links to Russia while “deals are being brokered” between western Europe and Russia.
Szijjártó said a new bilateral defence cooperation agreement that updated the one signed between the US and Hungary in 1997 was a response to novel security challenges. Relevant talks have been concluded, he said, adding that the draft agreement will be submitted to the defence committee of Hungary’s parliament next week. He said Hungary was a reliable defence and military ally. Important talks have been held on acquisitions, and the defence committee will be contacted in the near future in connection with talks about the intermediate-range air defence system, he added.
Szijjártó said he had asked Pompeo’s help to urge ExxonMobil to come to a decision as soon as possible on extracting gas in Romania, allowing Hungary to move forward in diversifying its gas purchases.
Szijjártó said Hungary’s cooperation with China and Russia did not have a bearing on its credibility as a NATO ally. He said criticism of Hungary due to its ties with Russia was “enormous hypocrisy”, adding that it was not Hungarian or central European energy companies that were cooperating with Gazprom to build a gas pipeline. Central Europe, he noted, is dependent on Russia for its energy supplies. “We have done everything we can” to buy gas from other sources, he added. Szijjártó said diversification hinged on “our allies”. “But it is not in western Europe’s interests today for central Europe to succeed, otherwise it would not be building its new gas route between Russia and Germany,” he said. Western Europe’s energy security will improve as a result, he said, adding that: “We are waiting for our allies to make decisions so we, too, can [buy gas] via another route.”