Federal President in Budapest – – 2024-04-24 14:49:35

Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd was a guest of President Tamás Sulyok in Budapest on Friday.

Their debate focused on current issues such as the security situation in Europe and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Both presidents stressed the importance of ending the conflict and welcomed the upcoming Swiss peace conference in June as an opportunity for a real ceasefire. Hungary welcomes a just and sustainable peace. Other topics included the activities of the UN Security Council, where Switzerland has a two-year mandate as a non-permanent member, the OSCE and the European Council, as well as the situation in the Middle East.

Concerns about takeover intentions

A central aspect of the talks was economic cooperation between Switzerland and Hungary. Amherd emphasized the importance of reliable framework conditions. With 900 companies that create around 29,000 jobs, Switzerland is one of the largest investors in Hungary. Concern has been expressed over plans by the Orbán government to force foreign owners in certain sectors to sell their Hungarian subsidiaries. This would also affect Swiss companies. She also discussed this issue with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Switzerland is the fourth largest trading partner and third largest investor in the EU. Around 1.5 million people from the EU and EFTA live and work in Switzerland, and around 400,000 employees commute across the border every day. Relations between Switzerland and the EU have recently reached a new phase, with negotiations on issues such as access to the EU internal market, consumer protection and joint measures to combat health risks, Amherd said.

Migration pressure and humanitarian aid

When asked about the migration pressure, she said that this also affects Switzerland, which has a very high proportion of foreigners. A lot is being invested in integration so that ghettos do not form. She is also worried about the geopolitical situation. A lot is being done to create and maintain peace in crisis areas and to provide humanitarian aid so that people have prospects in their own country and do not have to leave it.

Maintain your own identity

President Tamás Sulyok emphasized the importance of national sovereignty for Hungary and Switzerland. Both countries see themselves as important political and economic partners and allies in European issues. Hungary once joined the European Community of its own free will. The question is what kind of Europe you want as an independent and autonomous state. This depends not only on Hungary, but also on the other European countries. Hungary will always defend its own identity.

Sulyok praised Swiss support for the German-speaking Andrássy University of Budapest (AUB). Both Hungary and Switzerland would prioritize research, development, innovation and technical education and training. The Switzerland-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has set up its data center at the Wigner Center for Physical Research at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

With Orbán at the castle

It was the first visit to Hungary by a Swiss Federal President in 13 years. Viola Amherd also held talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the Carmelite monastery in the castle and with Parliament Speaker László Kövér. Amherd assured Orbán that Switzerland was looking forward to the Hungarian Council Presidency in the second half of the year, with which it would seek close cooperation. The Prime Minister praised the Swiss peace initiative in the Ukraine war, but emphasized that negotiations must be preceded by a ceasefire.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán received Swiss President Viola Amherd in the Carmelite monastery at the castle. Photo: MTI/ Zoltán Fischer

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