Hungary to open foreign trade representation in Jerusalem
19. 02. 2019.
In Jerusalem on Tuesday Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the Hungarian government will open a foreign trade representation in Jerusalem, which will be another step towards strengthening Hungarian-Israeli relations.

The Prime Minister had talks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In a joint press statement released after the meeting, he highlighted that he had updated his Israeli counterpart on the upcoming elections to the European Parliament (EP). One of the important goals of the EP elections, he said, will be to combat anti-Semitism in Europe.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

He said that efforts are being made to ensure that after the elections the EU has new leaders who will not finance NGOs which intervene in political affairs and who do take an anti-Israeli stance.

Mr. Orbán noted that originally the plan had been for the Visegrád Group (V4) prime ministers to arrive in Jerusalem together, which “proved to be almost successful” and “was a first attempt, which is promising”. Referring to the Polish-Israeli dispute which resulted in a change to the programme, the Prime Minister said that the V4-Israeli meeting has been postponed for the time being.

He said it would have been better if everyone had attended, as it is always better to be together than for a partner to be absent.

Mr. Orbán described Hungary as a long-standing friend of Poland, with the two countries closely cooperating in the EU. He expressed the hope that Poland and Israel will engage in direct talks and resolve the current situation.

Mr. Orbán pointed out that Hungary and Israel take joint action in a number of international organisations, including the UN.

He said that Hungary supports its Jewish communities, and that hopefully the Maccabiah Games which Budapest will host in the near future will be the best of all time.

Regarding economic cooperation, the Prime Minister stressed that the 210 Israeli companies active in Hungary represent a significant Israeli presence, and there is a desire to intensify the two countries’ cooperation in the field of innovative technologies.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

The Prime Minister said that this year the two countries are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of Hungarian-Israeli diplomatic relations, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has played an essential role in restarting cooperation between Israel and Central Europe.

Mr. Netanyahu stressed that in their past histories the two countries have much in common. They are small nations, and small democratic countries which are building their future on the foundations of peace, freedom and prosperity. This represents a strong bond between them, he said.

He highlighted the importance of cooperation in combating terrorism, noting that together the two countries are fighting against those who are attacking human civilisation, Islamic extremists and terrorists.

The Israeli prime minister also said that the two countries are likewise cooperating in the fields of defence, research, science and environmental protection.

He added that the Maccabiah Games which will be held in Hungary clearly demonstrate the importance Hungary attaches to its relations with Israel.

He recalled that Mr. Orbán also visited Jerusalem last year, and that the two leaders meet regularly – each time further strengthening bilateral political, economic and diplomatic relations.

Mr. Netanyahu thanked Hungary for standing by Israel in international organisations, including the UN. In closing he also expressed gratitude for Hungary’s foreign trade representation being opened in Jerusalem, which he described as an important gesture.

Originally the leaders of the Visegrád countries – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – were scheduled to hold a summit in Jerusalem with the Prime Minister of Israel. This would have been the first meeting held by the leaders of the Visegrád Group outside Europe.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

The summit was cancelled because a few days ago a war of words broke out between Polish and Israeli political leaders regarding the role of the Polish people in the Holocaust. This led to Poland withdrawing from the event.

In Poland’s absence the prime ministers held bilateral meetings.