News BlogEEAS High Representative

Ashton visits Hungarian presidency to enlist support

Credit: Mária Krasznai-Nehrebeczky (Hungarian Defense Ministry)

(In Budapest) The traditional visit of the European Commission to the rotating presidency (Hungary in this case) was an opportunity for Cathy Ashton to take stock successively with the country's Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense on the main current topics.

The Treaty of Lisbon has, in fact, “deprived” the Member States which hold the presidency of the European Union of the right to chair the councils of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense. A task that is not entirely honorary. Presiding over a council of ministers means choosing the subjects which deserve to be dealt with there, even those which are not necessary due to international current affairs. It is thus an opportunity for a State to push forward certain priorities: the Eastern Partnership for Hungary, Africa for Portugal or Belgium, Latin America for Spain... It is also to prepare for the meeting , therefore increase contacts with Member States, or even neighboring States. Which generally increases the “international surface” of a Minister. It is also the opportunity for a minister to increase his “visibility” internationally but especially internally. The consultation carried out by the High Representative is therefore not purely formal. This involves ensuring perfect coordination to avoid untimely initiatives or uncoordinated responses to international questions.

For János Martonyi, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, this is a given: the Hungarian presidency will provide “ all necessary assistance » to the proper functioning of the Union's foreign, security and defense policy, he declared following this meeting. The participants also discussed substantive topics such as the attitude to have towards Iran or the Middle East (see separate article).

Same concern on the part of the Minister of Defense. Csaba Hende, who was accompanied by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Lajos Fodor, the chief of staff, General Tibor Benko, and the ambassador to the COPS, Károly Grúber, assured the High Representative that he intended to work “in close collaboration” with her, now responsible for leading the common security policy, under the Treaty of Lisbon. (To be continued: the Hungarian army's point of view on European cooperation).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).