Szijjártó, CEE peers meet U.K. foreign secretary

Int’l Relations

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó joined his counterparts from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania at an informal meeting with U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Chevening, England, on Sunday, official government news portal reported.

Szijjártó emphasized the need for a respectable Brexit deal at the informal conference, while noting that Britainʼs exit from the EU is bad news for the bloc.

“In this situation, it is in the clear interests of the Central Europeans for the Brexit negotiations to conclude with the deepest and most comprehensive and wide-ranging free trade agreement possible,” he declared. “If this does not come about, then EU trade with Great Britain will continue according to the regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would cause extreme difficulties.”

“Now that a global trade war is beginning to develop,” Szijjártó continued, “Europe needs free trade agreements, strategic partnerships and friends, and not Great Britain leaving the European Union without a suitable agreement.”

The minister also voiced heavy criticism of the European Commission, saying it had “performed shockingly” over the course of the last four and a half years. He cited the recent fragility of transatlantic relations, the handling of the migrant crisis, and the EUʼs number of member states decreasing for the first time in 2019 as major weaknesses in the ECʼs performance.

In reply to the question of whether the countries of the Visegrád Group are planning joint initiatives to maintain and expand relations with Great Britain in the event of no Brexit agreement, Szijjártó declared: “The EU must remain united during the course of the Brexit negotiations, meaning that until there remains hope that an agreement will be reached we must move forward in the most unified manner possible, but this also represents an expectation and responsibility with relation to Brussels concerning the brokering of a suitable agreement.”

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