German diplomat on ties 20 years after bilateral pact

Budapest, May 25 (MTI) – Hungarian-German relations are marked by mutual trust, which should offer a basis to address contentious issues between the two sides, Matei Hoffman, Germany’s Ambassador to Hungary, told MTI 20 years after the day the two countries signed a friendship pact.

Hoffman called for these issues to be resolved “without a megaphone”. His main task, he said, was to bolster Hungarian-German relations.


Hoffman, commenting on Hungary’s contribution to healing divisions in Germany and Europe, said “Germany and Europe still feel deep gratitude towards Hungarians for this brave act.”


Current political dialogue is continuous, he noted. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and Janos Lazar, the outgoing head of the ruling Fidesz party’s parliamentary group, held talks in Berlin recently, while Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited Frankfurt and Munich. Orban held official talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on two occasions since assuming power and they regularly talk in European forums, too, he said. This week, House Speaker Laszlo Kover visited the German capital to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the friendship pact, he added.


Hoffman said, however, the EU followed some developments in Hungary with “a degree of concern”.


“From a German point of view, more exchanges between the government and the opposition would be desirable,” he said. Germany has good experiences of its own culture of consensus built over several decades, as well as its system of checks and balances, he said, noting the role of the German constitutional court, the division of labour between the central government and the federal states, the functions of the two chambers of parliament, minority rights secured in parliament and the options of coalition governing.


“The powers of the constitutional court are of especial importance, as well as the independence of the judiciary, which can make sure that investors, who are mainly interested in predictability and the functioning of the rule of law, do not suffer any detriment,” he said.


A results-oriented dialogue based on trust should continue with European institutions; the only right path to take, he said, adding that he hoped all contested issues would be resolved and that Hungary’s government would use its two-thirds majority to do so quickly.


The ambassador highlighted cooperation on European policy as a very important area of bilateral relations. He mentioned joint efforts to combat the financial crisis and to create a new European culture of stability. Hungary made an important contribution to these goals by supporting the fiscal pact, he said. It is in this context that the decision on freezing Cohesion Funds to Hungary should be considered, he said, adding that EU finance ministers would review the decision in June.


“Hungary’s serious efforts to balance its budget are recognised,” he said.


He called economic ties between the two countries as “extremely strong and intensive”. The German economy is Hungary’s partner in reaching its economic policy goals, he added.


He noted that Germany is Hungary’s largest trading partner, with 7,000 German or partly-German companies operating in the country, creating 300,000 jobs. He noted that the new Mercedes factory in Kecskemet, central Hungary, is set to create 3,000 jobs by year-end while Audi’s plant in Gyor will expand its work-force by 2,500. Bosch also has employment-boosting plans, he said.


He commended Hungary as a valuable investment location due to its “excellent, motivated and well-trained work force, good infrastructure, favourable geographical location and good training and educational opportunities.” German companies are interested in long-term sustainable commitments in Hungary, he added.


Hoffmann mentioned, however, that according to a confidence report issued by the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry in mid-April, German companies have reservations in some areas. They would like to see more predictability, legal stability and stronger growth-oriented policies, he said.


“Timely discussions and mutual exchanges usually guarantee that solutions acceptable to everyone are reached,” the ambassador said.