“Europe must draw on the lessons learned from the referendum on Great Britain’s EU membership”, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at an extraordinary press conference on Friday concerning the British referendum.
“The first such lesson is that people’s opinions must be listened to, even in Brussels”, the Minister stressed. “The second is that one cannot pursue politics that disregard the opinion of the people of Europe or goes against their will”, he continued. “A strong Europe is in everyone’s interests, but this can only be realised if the EU provides real solutions to major challenges, because Europe cannot be strong if the solutions it provides weaken Member States and the European Union”, he declared.
Mr. Szijjártó said a further lesson was that it was time for an era of sincere politics in Europe. “In recent years the EU has pursued insincere politics that have been hypocritical and aimed at political correctness, and as a consequence it has been unable to provide the right answers to many challenges and crises, meaning they must be formulated at a member-state level”, he explained.
“It is time for Europe to call a spade a spade and nobody should fear the consequences of doing so; real challenges require real solutions”, he declared. The Foreign Minister told reporters that the British exit was a precedent, as the regulations on this are relatively ambiguous, so a lot depends on how EU institutions interpret the law. “We can expect a long and complicated process involving a lot of debate”, he said.
“EU institutions will be in session next week and many interpretations and disputes can be expected during the next two years. Man important issues will appear on the agenda, including the EU budget, because of course Great Britain is a net contributor”, Mr. Szijjártó pointed out.
The Hungarian Foreign Minister also spoke about the fact that there are many Hungarians living and working in the United Kingdom. “We can expect a two-year transitional period during which Great Britain and the European Union will negotiate the details of the exit, and London will decide what changes will be introduced to current regulations on employment and residence. The Hungarian Government is monitoring developments closely and will be making sure the EU receives a mandate with which it can suitably negotiate in the interest of Hungarians with regard to this issue”, he said.
Mr. Szijjártó also said it is easier to trade with a country if it is a member of the European Union, but we must wait and see what the relationship between the EU and Great Britain will be like from an economic perspective. The directors of several British companies operating in Hungary have previously assured the Foreign Minister that they will stand by Hungary regardless of the result of the referendum and will now be swayed by the outcome, he said. “But bilateral relations are not the only thing that are important with relation to the economic repercussions, because if one of our most significant trade partners exits the integration it will definitely have an effect on commerce”, he added.
The foreign minister’s statements echoed the words of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who said on public radio on Friday morning in connection with the result of the referendum that British voters’ decision to leave the European Union has to be respected because all nations have the right to make decisions on their own fate.