We must find forms of post-Brexit cooperation with Britain
29. 05. 2021.
Relations between Hungary and Britain developed during the period when both countries were members of the European Union; this period, however, is over now, Brexit happened, and the task in hand now is to find forms of post-Brexit cooperation, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday in London, after he had bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his office at Downing Street.

Talking to journalists after the meeting, the Hungarian Prime Minister said at the talks with Mr Johnson they primarily focused on the future of Hungarian-British bilateral cooperation, while they also discussed the possibilities of further cooperation between the countries of Central Europe, in particular the Visegrád countries, and Britain.

According to Mr Orbán, at the meeting, the energy industry and defence industry were mentioned as particularly successful areas of bilateral relations.

He recalled that Shell had been the first non-Russian energy industry company that Hungary had entered into a long-term gas purchase agreement with.

According to the Prime Minister, this agreement is of great importance also from the respect of sovereignty.

He added that energy and defence industry cooperation – including the development of common research opportunities within the latter – are “two promising areas of cooperation during the post-Brexit and post-Covid period” between Hungary and Britain.

In answer to the question as to whether – in light of the fact that in Europe the percentage of persons who have received the vaccine against the coronavirus is the highest in Britain and Hungary – he sees any hope for quarantine-free travel between the two countries, Mr Orbán said this depends on the British government. “Britain is number one, we have the silver medal which is not a mean achievement in this race,” the Prime Minister said.

He highlighted that in Hungary life is now free, perhaps a little freer than here, “if my perception of the situation in London at present is correct”.

The British government is, however, very cautious, and this is understandable given that Britain is an island state, and this creates a more difficult situation than in countries which are, similar to Hungary, landlocked, Mr Orbán said.

He added it is to be hoped that sooner or later the foreign ministers of the two countries could reach an agreement on the mutual acceptance of immunity certificates.

In answer to a question, he said at his meeting with the British Prime Minister on Friday, they also discussed issues related to democracy, the press, the LGBT community and the rule of law as Mr Johnson was “also interested in these matters”.

Mr Orbán stated that the Hungarian judiciary is among the most independent in Europe, and if anyone at a newsstand in Hungary asks for an anti-government newspaper, they can choose from at least a dozen.

He added that the accusation of anti-Semitism is “simply ridiculous” as in Hungary there is a very large Jewish community.

He rejected the idea that Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros had been the subject of anti-Semitic attacks. Mr Orbán stated that George Soros was a talented Hungarian businessman, but was also a major rival: he advocates migration, and helps and funds non-governmental organisations that organise the same. “We don’t like that, but this has nothing to do with ethnic self-identity,” the Hungarian Prime Minister said.