Orbán, Johnson discuss bilateral cooperation

Int’l Relations

Boris Johnson and Viktor Orbán.

Image by MTI/Prime Minister's Press Office/Vivien Cher Benkő

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he discussed the path ahead for bilateral cooperation between Hungary and the United Kingdom at talks with his counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday.

Orbán told journalists outside of 10 Downing Street that the sides had also discussed opportunities for further cooperation between the U.K. and countries in Central Europe, especially the Visegrád Group countries.

He said the talks touched on two areas of special interest: the energy and defense industries. The PM noted that Shell is the first energy company that is not Russian with whom Hungary has signed a long-term gas purchase agreement.

Orbán said he hoped an agreement between the countries' foreign ministries on recognition of each other's COVID immunity certificates could be reached sooner or later.

Fielding questions, he said issues concerning democracy, the press, the LGBT community, and the rule of law were also touched on at the meeting. He also claimed that Hungary's judiciary is among the most independent in Europe. He also said he could recommend "at least a dozen" newspapers that attack the government on any Hungarian newsstand. He said the insinuation that there is anti-Semitism in Hungary is "simply laughable", adding that the country is home to a large Jewish community.

He also dismissed the suggestion that the Hungarian-American investor George Soros had been the subject of attacks with anti-Semitic overtones. Orbán said Soros is a "talented Hungarian businessman" but also a weighty rival who advocates migration and supports and finances NGOs that organize migration.

"We don't like this, but that has nothing to do with ethnic identity," Orbán added.

Johnsons raises human rights concerns in talks with Orbán

Johnson's office said in a statement released after the meeting that the sides "discussed the importance of the U.K. and Hungary working together bilaterally to increase security and prosperity in our countries and to address global challenges such as climate change".

The office noted that Hungary would take the revolving presidency of the Visegrád Group in July and Johnson "looked forward to the U.K. working more closely with the group in future".

Johnson "raised his significant concerns about human rights in Hungary, including gender equality, LGBT rights, and media freedom", the office added.

The office said the leaders also discussed a number of foreign policy issues including Russia, Belarus, and China, and Johnson had "encouraged Hungary to use their influence to promote democracy and stability".

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