In recent years, the importance of Central Asia has grown, and Hungary has gained an advantage by establishing connections with countries in the region much earlier than others, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó. The minister spoke at a joint press conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Zheenbek Kulubaev, in Budapest on Monday.
Due to the war in Ukraine and the related sanctions, previously well-functioning trade routes and connections have become impractical, leading to a significant shift of physical trade routes and sourcing to Central Asia. As Hungary is already present in this region as an observer in the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States,
it has a strategic advantage and does not need to start cooperation from scratch.
Szijjártó emphasised that Hungary is greatly benefiting from this collaboration and utilising its competitive advantage. He referred to previous criticism faced by the government for engaging with Central Asian countries, which was considered unnecessary at that time. However, with the emergence of a new world order, it has become evident that Hungary’s early engagement with these countries positions it ahead of others in this new era, with an advantageous position already established in Central Asia. This advantage is evident in the Hungarian-Kyrgyz trade volume, which saw a remarkable 71 per cent increase last year, setting a new record.
The minister welcomed the opportunities provided to Hungarian companies in modernising Kyrgyzstan’s water supply and irrigation systems and initiating various projects in the food industry. Additionally, a Hungarian solar power plant construction investment is set to begin soon, and joint steel production has commenced in Bishkek, worth 2.5 billion Hungarian forints.
Szijjártó also highlighted the renewed momentum in educational cooperation, with joint sessions held between the two rectors’ conferences, fostering closer ties between several Hungarian and Kyrgyz universities. The educational agreement signed between the two countries enables two hundred students from Kyrgyzstan to receive scholarships annually at Hungarian higher education institutions, and the Hungarian Diplomatic Academy is participating in the training of young Kyrgyz diplomats.
The minister advocated for strengthening ties between the European Union and Central Asia, urging the prompt signing of the EU-Kyrgyzstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was initialled in 2019. He requested the European Commission to consider that the four years that have passed since then should be sufficient time for the agreement to be legally concluded.
Lastly, Szijjártó emphasised that both
Hungary and Kyrgyzstan are part of the majority advocating for global peace,
as both countries have paid a high price for the Ukrainian conflict despite not bearing any responsibility for it. He underlined that the countries both believe there is no solution to the war on the battlefield, as it only results in casualties, thus they are calling for an immediate ceasefire and maintain communication channels with the sides involved.
During the third session of the Hungarian-Kyrgyz Strategic Council, the parties signed an agreement on cooperation in environmental protection.
Regarding a journalist’s question about the devastating wildfires on the Greek islands, Szijjártó urged those planning to travel there to reconsider their plans and explore the possibility of rescheduling their trips. If this is not possible, he advised thoroughly researching the level of danger in the specific area and registering on the website of the Consular Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He mentioned that the registration list is continuously monitored, and if someone is in a hazardous area, contact will be established. He also pointed out that those who have lost their travel documents can receive assistance at the airport, as the police will issue a certificate enabling them to board flights to EU countries.
Source: Hungarian Conservative/MTI