Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that restoring pragmatic cooperation between East and West is a national security interest for Hungary because whenever there was a conflict between the two blocks, central Europe has always suffered from it.
At a podium discussion organized by the Antalya Diplomacy Forum and the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the minister said that the existing political and economic world order had recently fallen apart. As a result, the basis for Europe’s economic development, the combination of advanced western technologies and cheap Russian energy resources, has been lost, he added. Nobody knows if the ties currently being cut can be restored in the future, and Eurasian cooperation seems less realistic now, with the armed conflict in Ukraine and the war rhetoric, he said. “We believed in a future where good cooperation can exist between regional integrations and in a global order where the West and the East can work together in a pragmatic and civilised manner,” he added. Experience from history shows that Hungary and central Europe have always lost out on conflicts between East and West. “We are arguing in support of restoring cooperation because it is a core national security interest and not because we are someone’s spy,” he said. Even before the war in Ukraine, European discourse had been excessively focused on ideology and politics, he said. Already at that time, it was difficult to negotiate based on pragmatism and common sense, and the armed conflict has further deteriorated the situation, he added. When someone uses a voice of pragmatism and common sense, they are immediately accused of breaking the unity of the EU and NATO, and even representing Russia and Kremlin propaganda, he said. There are three issues that could bring overall changes in order to find real solutions to the existing challenges, he added. The first is a return to mutual respect in international relations, which has been fully missing in recent times, Minister Szijjártó said. The second is for everyone to understand that ideological and political approaches must not overrule physical realities, he said. The third is whether channels of communication can be kept open between the opponents, he added. Regarding the latter, he said efforts by Türkiye were especially important because they helped resolve the problem of Ukrainian grain exports. Hungary’s success depends on how successfully it can be integrated into the international economy, primarily in terms of its export performance and attracting foreign investments, he added. Hungary has a vested interest in a strong European Union, with around 80% of Hungarian exports directed to other member states, he said. This is also the reason why the government is actively participating in the disputes concerning the community’s future, he added. Dominant political ideologies only weaken the block and the notion of a United States of Europe is a dead-end street, he said. A strong EU must be based on strong member states that proudly represent their own cultural, historical and religious roots, Minister Szijjártó said.