Hungary’s interest lies in ensuring that its relations with the United Kingdom remain as strong as possible after Brexit, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with his British counterpart Dominic Raab on Tuesday.
Hungary is an ally to the UK on a number of issues, Szijjártó said in a video on Facebook. Britain is Hungary’s sixth most important investor with 900 British companies employing more than 55,000 Hungarians, the minister said. The UK is also Hungary’s 12th most important trading partner, he added.
British businesses, he said, had demonstrated their loyalty to Hungarian employees during the coronavirus pandemic, with five UK firms investing more than 5.5 million euros in Hungary last year. The government supported those investments with 2.7 million euros, he added.
Szijjártó said he and Raab had also discussed the situation around Covid-19 vaccines.
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“We still believe it’s shameful that the European Union waited weeks and months to approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine,” the minister said. “Had the authorisation been granted sooner, we’d be further along in Hungary as well.”
Szijjártó noted that Hungary received a shipment of the AstraZeneca jab last Saturday, with the next batch scheduled to be delivered on Feb. 13, adding that the UK had the largest and most diverse stock of Covid vaccines.
Hungary is doing everything it can to ensure that its citizens can be inoculated as quickly as possible. Because Hungary has contracted vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, China’s Sinopharm and Russia, the vaccination campaign can be speeded up significantly over the coming weeks, he said.
Szijjártó said he and Raab had also discussed support for persecuted Christians, which he said was an important goal for both governments.
Talks also touched on Hungary’s presidency of the Council of the EU set for the second half of 2024, during which Szijjártó said the country hopes to focus on the protection of national minorities, supporting families and interreligious dialogue.
Szijjártó said Raab had assured him of the UK’s cooperation on those issues and promised to pay a visit to Hungary this year.
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He noted that 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and the United Kingdom, which they intend to celebrate in a way that will be worthy of the occasion.
on the featured image: Raab and Szijjártó in London in 2019; via MTI/KKM/Zsolt Burger