Hungary's Foreign Minister: from energy security to free trade agreements in whirlwind of bilaterals

Peter Szijjártó met with President Barack Obama and the first lady while meeting with leading diplomats from around the world to discuss economic issues

Hungary's minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, has met with President Barack Obama and the first lady while meeting with leading diplomats from around the world to discuss economic issues.

Minister Szijjártó, in New York for the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, took part in nine bilateral meetings, four of which were negotiations with foreign ministers from African countries in the interests of expanding economic relations with the continent.

“There is agreement on the fact that Africa is the future, and it is in Hungary’s interests to exploit the opportunities that are inherent in African development," Szijjártó said.

Szijjártó met with Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra, Tunisian minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui, his Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Aziz Ghandour and chief diplomat of the Cape Verde Juis Filipe Tavares, and that he had come to an agreement with all four ministers that their countries would be supporting Hungary’s nomination for membership of the UN Human Rights Council. The elections will be held in October.

“Since Hungary can be most successful if it conducts its business within the framework of the European Union, we are calling for the development of the EU-Algeria Association Council and the strategic partnership between the EU and Tunisia, as well as the drawing up of EU funding for Sudan," Szijjártó highlighted.

Szijjártó also concluded an agreement on consultation between the respective ministries of Foreign Affairs with Guatemalan counterpart Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso, in addition to which Hungary agreed to provide scholarships for students from Guatemala to attend Hungarian universities.

“Hungary is calling for the further development of cooperation between the European Union and the countries of the Latin American region," Szijjártó said, adding that “Guatemala will also be supporting our bid for membership of the UN Human Rights Council”.

During his meeting with the Kosovon Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, Szijjártó assured his negotiating partner that Hungary remains committed to the European integration of the Western Balkans and is supporting visa-free travel to Kosovan citizens.

During his negotiations with Perfecto Yasay, Szijjártó and his Philippines counterpart had confirmed their agreement on economic cooperation, which the parties are due to sign in January when Hungary opens its embassy in Manila.

“Trade flow between Hungary and the Philippines exceeds 200 million dollars, and so we are calling for the European Union to sign a free trade agreement with Southeast Asian country," he added.

During his round of bilateral talks, Minister Szijjártó also met with US Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland.

Szijjártó and Thorbjørn discussed the refugee crisis, with relation to which Szijjártó told the Norwegian politician, amongst others, that “nobody can take away the Hungarian people’s democratic right to decide for themselves on the most important issues concerning the country’s future”.

During his meeting with Hochstein, Szijjártó asked that the United States assist the realization of central European energy security, primarily by calling for the establishment of investment projects that enable that security, such as the Hungarian-Croatian and Hungarian-Romanian natural gas interconnectors.