Hungary must make itself significant in the United States, László Szabó, Hungary’s new ambassador in Washington, said in an interview.
Speaking to MTI days after taking his posting, Szabó noted that as parliamentary state secretary for foreign affairs and trade, he had regularly negotiated and concluded agreements with the most important American players in business and the economy.
“Hungarian-American bilateral economic ties are developing very well and vigorously, and whereas annual trade turnover is now worth more than 5 billion dollars, and trade between the two countries has grown by 5% this year, there are still possibilities to explore and exploit,” he said, adding that progress was being made but political ties had to be strengthened with determination. “The Trump administration is not afraid to say what it thinks, and it is very refreshing that a new spirit has appeared in bilateral ties. The Hungarian government, since 2010, has represented Hungarian national interests very openly, and it is good to see that America similarly declares that, for Americans, America comes first, just as for Hungarians, Hungary has primacy”, the ambassador said.
“There are people who understand that improving Hungary-US and V4- US relations are indeed a value for America as well,” he added. “We have to make ourselves relevant as far as America is concerned, and we have to make clear why good relations with Hungary are important,” Szabó said. “We have also to make clear that as current president of the Visegrád Group, we are really paying attention to US energy policy and how Washington can get its liquefied natural gas into Europe,” he said. “We must get to the point that they see us as a potential market.” Hungary, he said, trusts that the planned LNG terminal will be built on the Croatian coast and a gas interconnector will similarly come to pass not only between Romania and Hungary but between Croatia and Hungary too. In this way, Hungary will be able to access energy from American sources “and we won’t depend so much on Russian gas”.
Szabó welcomed President Trump’s recent declaration in Warsaw that US foreign policy would pay greater attention to Central Europe than in the past. On issues of security cooperation, the ambassador said: “We are very serious partners and Hungary has shown that.”
He noted that Hungary forms part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State terrorist organisation and it also takes part in important peacekeeping operations as well as NATO exercises.
photos: inforadio.hu; civishir.hu; washington.kormany.hu