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 new 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. 

Szijjartó also fills the office of government commissioner responsible for developing Hungarian-Russian and Hungarian-Chinese economic relations (source in Hungarian).

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 and 2014.

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 new 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.

Turns 38 years old in 2016.

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). 

“Hungary and the Hungarian people deserve more respect from the Swedish European Affairs Minister as well. . . . she asserted total lies about Hungary and the Hungarian people.” August 14, 2014, responding to an editorial that Minister for European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson of Sweden wrote in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet (see editorial in Swedish) in which she asserted that the Orbán government was suppressing civil society in Hungary and building an illiberal political system based on the Putinist model (source A and B 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 big and strong countries need to put the proposals on the table; they can count on our support for all solutions which bring the conflict to a swift conclusion.” November 14, 2014, speaking to the Financial Times about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine (source in English).

“In the current situation, when there is a military conflict under way in a neighboring country, cooperation with our ally gains ever greater significance.” January 14, 2015, speaking to the Wall Street Journal regarding the United States and the Russia-Ukraine conflict (source in English). 

“We are hoping that our friend, the U.S., will present signs that this situation could come to a close.” January 14, 2015, speaking to the Wall Street Journal regarding the U.S. entry ban on Orbán administration officials pursuant to anti-corruption proclamation 7750 (source in English).

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

“The terrorist organization called the Islamic State has launched a general attack on the Western community of values. Hungary is part of the Western community of values and obligations arise from this.” March 12, 2015, during interview with moderate pro-government website mandiner.hu (source in Hungarian). 

“A New World Order has formed, the possibilities of which can only be exploited if North America, Europe and Central Asia cooperate better than they have until now.” December 8, 2016, referring to the United States under the leadership of Donald Trump, the European Union and Russia (source in Hungarian).

“I believe that György Soros is indeed there behind very many attacks against Hungary and [] very much exercising of pressure against Hungary—his system of connections, his capital are there. His connection to the Clinton family is totally evident, obviously nobody can dispute this. The Clinton family is one of the greatest American critics of Hungary, this is a fact, and here the circle closes.” December 21, 2016, during interview with opposition television station ATV (source in Hungarian).

Last updated: December 21, 2016. 

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