Relations between Hungary and Spain can be characterised as resting on mutual respect, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Madrid after talks with José Manuel Albares, his Spanish counterpart. A social democratic government in the Mediterranean region and a conservative, civic government in central Europe naturally have differing views on relatively many issues, primarily in the area of social policy, Szijjártó said. “We are however in agreement that we will focus on issues we agree on and which serve both nations’ best interest,” he said. The two countries will in this spirit continue to strengthen economic cooperation in the area of car manufacturing with a focus on Spanish companies that are important suppliers in the Hungarian market, Szijjártó said.
The minister said there were common European Union-related issues Spain and Hungary could work together on in the coming years. These include the bloc’s enlargement in the Western Balkans which both Budapest and Madrid supports, he said. They also agreed that the situation in regions south of the bloc needed to be monitored closely, given the importance of stability and security in north Africa, he added.
Szijjártó said they both supported free trade and agreed that the EU should conclude as many free trade agreements as possible. He said that cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy were important EU policies for both countries and they would jointly endorse maintaining them. He said they also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and agreed that it highlighted the need for closer cooperation within the EU in health care, as “the pandemic is an attack on the whole world, including Europe”. “If we have no clear strategic cooperation in the EU, our response will be less effective,” Szijjártó said. The minister noted that Hungary will be in a “trio of EU Council presidencies” with Spain and Belgium. He said he agreed with his Spanish colleague to start preparing for their upcoming presidencies together as soon as possible. Spain will be EU Council president in July-December 2023, followed by Belgium and Hungary in 2024.