HUNGARY has opened a consulate in Edinburgh as part of a bid to strengthen its relationship with Scotland after Brexit.
The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, visited the Capital to open the new base and talked about his hopes for a strong future free trade agreement between the UK and the European Union.
He said Scottish exports to Hungary were approaching £100 million a year.
And he stressed co-operation between the UK and Hungary after Brexit would be essential.
Mr Szijjarto said: “We would have been much happier if the UK didn’t leave the European Union. We think the UK leaving means a big loss for the entire European Union.”
But he said Hungary respected the Brexit decision.
The consulate, in Union Street close to the top of Leith Walk, will provide administrative services for the estimated 10,000 Hungarians living in Scotland, saving them the need to travel to London.
It will be headed by new consul Tibor Szendrei, who has moved up from London to take up the post.
Up until now, Hungary was represented in Scotland by an honorary consul, a role filled most recently by former Lord Provost Norman Irons.
Mr Szijjarto told the Evening News: “As Brexit approaches we have to consider how we can make co-operation as effective as possible after Brexit and we believe Scotland will definitely have a role in that so we would like to strengthen the Hungary-Scotland relationship, which already exists in higher education and the economy.
“So this consulate should play a role in people to people contacts and in enhancing economic co-operation as well.”
He said the UK was number six investor in Hungary, with 600 British companies employing around 60,000 people.
“Free trade between UK and EU and tight co-operation on investments are both vital to us.”
He said good connections already existed between Scotland and Hungary, as seen in the common scholarship programme between Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University and the Budapest University of Economic Science and Edinburgh-based Skyscanner’s development centre in Budapest.
Lord Provost Frank Ross, who attended the opening ceremony for the new consulate, welcomed the Hungarians’ decision to establish a base in the Capital.
He said: “In Edinburgh, regardless of the current debate surrounding Brexit, we feel we remain close to our European friends and we like to work in routine co-operation with overseas civic leaders, building on our shared social, economic, political and historically cultural foundations.
“With the opening of the consulate, our relationship can only blossom going forward.”