Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó

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Péter Szijjartó has been the Orbán government’s minister of external economy and foreign affairs since September 24, 2014.

Szijjártó previously served as the Prime Ministry state secretary in charge of foreign and external economic affairs from June 2, 2012 until the formation of the third Orbán government following the National Assembly election held in April 2014. His main task in the former position was to implement the government’s Eastern Opening policy. 

Biography

Grew up in the city of Győr (population 130,000, northwestern Hungary), where he finished high school in 1997. Received bachelor’s degree from the International Relations and Sports Management Department at the Budapest University of Economic Sciences in 2002.

Was president of Fidelitas, the Fidesz youth organization, from 2005 to 2009.

Elected to serve as Fidesz National Assembly representative in 2002 at the age of 23. Reelected in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. 

Was Fidesz party spokesman from 2006 until 2010. Served as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s personal spokesman from June 2010 to June 2012. Left the latter post to assume office of prime ministry state secretary in charge of foreign and external economic affairs. 

Filled the position of deputy minister of external economy and foreign affairs following the formation of the third Orbán government on June 6, 2014 pending the departure of newly appointed Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Tibor Navracsics to become Hungary’s member of the European Commission in the fall of 2014 (source in Hungarian).

Appointed on March 4, 2013, to serve as government commissioner in charge of developing Hungarian-Russian and Hungarian-Chinese economic relations, replacing György Matolcsy, who left the Orbán cabinet on that date to become governor of the National Bank of Hungary.

Notable Quotes

“We do not want to deal with such an unworthy tabloid canard.” January 13, 2012 (while prime minister’s spokesman), speaking to the news website Index.hu regarding newly emerged allegations that President Pál Schmitt had plagiarized his Ph.D. dissertation (source in Hungarian).  

“The U.S. is our friend. The U.S. is our closest ally. Why should I say bad things?” October 22, 2014, during an interview with the U.S. daily newspaper USA Today (source in English).

“Central Europeans know what it means to have a neighbor like the Soviet Union and we never want to experience that again.” November 14, 2014, speaking to the Financial Times (source in English).

“The Eastern Opening has taken place.” March 12, 2015, during interview with moderate pro-government website mandiner.hu (source in Hungarian). 

Last updated: May 8, 2018. 

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