The successful areas of cooperation between Hungary and Sweden have been in economic and defense policy, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a press conference in Budapest after a discussion with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde.
Szijjártó said that the trade turnover between the two countries was more than EUR 2 billion (HUF 726 billion) in 2020 and is already showing a 32 percent increase this year.
There are 225 Swedish companies operating in Hungary, which employ 15,000 people, and they are investing more and more in research and development, he added. During the coronavirus epidemic, Swedish companies protected 4,300 jobs and made HUF 7 billion in investments under the government’s support program. In addition to low taxes, the presence of a skilled workforce and political stability also contribute to companies’ willingness to pursue these projects in Hungary, said the FM.
The Swedish business presence in Hungary is strong, investments are significant, and defense policy cooperation is also close, Ann Linde confirmed.
Szijjártó noted that both are members of the European Union (EU), and, although Sweden has not joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it maintains close ties with it. Hungary additionally uses Gripen fighter jets, which not only protect Hungarian airspace but that of the Baltic states and Slovenia as well. He added that 23 Swedish soldiers are serving in an international transport regiment in Pápa, Hungary.
Linde mentioned that Sweden would hold the presidency of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and Hungary would take over the presidency of the Council of Europe (CoE) next month. All of this is especially important now that tensions are rising between East and West, she added. Peter Szijjártó said that Hungary supports the Swedish presidency of OSCE.
In connection with the forthcoming Hungarian presidency of the Council of Europe, Szijjártó stated that Hungarians are ready to take over the post and that the protection of national minorities will be accorded special importance. Hungary supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but it can’t be accepted that the rights of the Hungarian community are constantly being violated during the fighting in the eastern part of the country, and Hungary hopes that the OSCE will seek to guarantee such rights.
The minister added that Hungary will also make the protection of children and families a priority during its presidency, as they are the targets of cybercrime. Ann Linde noted that migration, the climate and the EU’s neighborhood policy were also discussed.
Szijjártó recalled that Hungary and Sweden just celebrated their 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year.