Chancellor Angela Merkel receives invitation to attend February Danube Summit in Budapest - the Foreign Minister's talks in Berlin
Péter Balázs engaged in talks in Berlin on December 11 with Guido Westerwelle, the new foreign minister of the recently-formed German
Federal government. The main goal of the first meeting of the two ministers was to establish personal contacts. They made a tour d'horizon
of the traditionally close bilateral relations and current international matters with which both sides are engaged.
Both ministers emphasised that they are committed to multifaceted cooperation as well as to deepening intensive political dialogue. Mr Balázs qualified relations with Berlin as of strategic importance, particularly in view of economic and investment cooperation.As Germany is open to participate in regional cooperation projects which are being realised on Hungary's initiative Mr Balázs briefed his counterpart of Hungarian ideas in relation to the European Union Danube Region Strategy. He informed FM Westerwelle that a Danube region summit conference is scheduled for February 25 and 26, 2010 in Budapest, and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is cordially invited to attend. The German foreign minister showed lively interest in the Visegrad Four cooperation, too; saying that his government occasionally would gladly participate. Mr Balázs and Mr Westerwelle were in agreement that a foreign minister level conference of the Visegrad Four and Germany - to be held during the Hungarian presidency of the V4 in the first half of 2010 - would provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Germany's engagement.
The two foreign ministers discussed current European Union issues in detail to include the developments coming with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. They welcomed the ratification of the treaty and qualified the appointment of the new EU leaders as an important step forward in keeping the community operational. Mr Balázs added, however that we must not forget maintaining the equilibrium between the powers of the permanent position holders and the six month term presidencies having in mind that that latter could bring dynamics into European policymaking. The two ministers coordinated their standpoints in respect of the new European External Action Service which is in the process of being set up, and agreed that the respective positions both in Brussels and in EU missions in third countries should be shared out proportionately. Mr Balázs stressed that Hungary is committed to the integration of the Western Balkans and elaborated on the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Among current international issues, the foreign ministers were primarily preoccupied with the situation in Afghanistan. In respect of this, which is currently an exceptionally sensitive issue in German domestic politics, Mr Balázs briefed his counterpart on Hungary's decision to boost the Hungarian contingent by 200 armed personnel.
The Foreign Minister informed his partner about Hungarian-Slovak relations, current connected developments and Hungary's steps in the interest of the easing of tensions which had developed during the summer; the German partner reacted supportively. Mr Balázs invited Mr Westerwelle to pay a visit to Hungary, and he accepted graciously.
Afterwards, Mr Balázs met Christoph Heusgen, the Chancellor's chief foreign and security advisor. He handed over the invitation of Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai to Angela Merkel to attend the Danube summit taking place at the end of February. The chief advisor reacted favourably to the invitation and indicated openness to the earliest possible meeting of the heads of governments. Mr Heusgen spoke with recognition of Hungary's economic achievement and the steps taken by the government in the interest of stabilisation. In connection with issues regarding Hungarian-Slovak relations, the chief advisor received Hungary's standpoint positively. They were also in agreement on current matters affecting Bosnia-Herzegovina and the situation of Turkey.