The Hungarian government is preparing to cooperate closely with the new British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. In recent years, Viktor Orbán’s cabinet has seen the UK as an important ally.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán congratulated newly-elected British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a message on Monday evening.
According to the Prime Minister’s press chief, Orbán wrote that there have been excellent bilateral relations between Hungary and the United Kingdom, their cooperation based on mutual respect, jointly-held values, common interests, and deep-rooted historical relations.
“During these hard times hallmarked by multiple crises, when challenges are directly affecting our citizens, it is extremely important that as allies and partners with similar mindsets we further enhance the intensity of our already close cooperation,”
the Prime Minister stressed. “I would like to take this opportunity to repeatedly express our commitment to strengthening Hungarian-British relations and to also building strong and mutually advantageous cooperation between the United Kingdom and the European Union,” he concluded.
Orbán’s government has historically paid great attention to the United Kingdom. Prior to Brexit, the UK was seen by the government as an important ally of Hungary in defending national sovereignty, as conservative governments were critical of increasing centralization – as former Prime Minister David Cameron put it, the “ever closer union.” It is no coincidence that after the 2014 European Parliament elections, only two prime ministers in the European Council voted against Jean-Claude Juncker becoming President of the European Commission: Orbán and Cameron.
In the run-up to the Brexit referendum, the Hungarian government put out a newspaper ad asking Britons to vote to remain in the European Union. “The British people have always defended sovereignty and economic competitiveness within the EU, they have struck a balance with German-French cooperation, together with other Member States. As long as the British were in, we knew that they were the long-term allies of our region and of the Union. But now that they are out, they are more interested in dividing the continent, as it was part of British national strategy for centuries before they joined the EU,” Balázs Orbán, the prime minister’s political director, explained to weekly Demokrata last week.
At a recent panel discussion in Berlin, Prime Minister Orbán spoke about the negative impacts of Brexit. According to him, the British never accepted the concept of a federal Europe, but with their departure the federalists have found themselves in a majority. He said that if Britain had not left the EU, the dynamism that had been experienced in the previous thirty years would have continued.
In his congratulatory message to Orbán after the general elections in April, then Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Hungarian-British relations “fantastic.” When Johnson survived the vote of confidence in June, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that it was good news, as Johnson has always shown great respect towards Hungary and worked hard on their bilateral relations as the UK’s foreign minister.
It was less than two months ago that Orbán congratulated the UK’s newly elected Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who resigned last week. “Hungary will remain a loyal ally of the United Kingdom,” he wrote.
Hungarian leaders had great respect for Queen Elizabeth II. “Her dedication and service for the United Kingdom are an example for us all,” Orbán wrote in his message to Liz Truss. President Katalin Novák even attended the Queen’s funeral.
Featured photo via Facebook/Rishi Sunak