Strengthening relations between Europe and Latin America is an endeavour shared fully by Hungary, the foreign minister said. Péter Szijjártó held talks with his counterparts representing the European Union (EU) and Latin American (CELAC) countries in Brussels, ahead of a two-day summit of these countries’ leaders starting on Wednesday. Europe has somewhat fallen behind Russia and China in the competition to take up cooperation opportunities with Latin America, Szijjártó told Hungarian reporters.
This is because just when new opportunities developed in Latin America and their middle classes strengthened, Europe was battling with dramatic economic challenges, he added. Hungary recently launched its opening to the south strategy, which places Latin America in the focus of foreign economic strategy, so Hungary’s aspirations are completely identical to Europe’s, Szijjártó said. The EU and Latin America seek to boost cooperation in the areas of economy and trade in efforts to respond to climate change and in combatting terrorism, he said.
Regarding the first area, it is in Hungary’s interest that the EU should strike free trade agreements with as many Latin American countries as possible, he said. This process most advanced with Colombia and Peru: Hungary has already ratified the deals struck with these countries. It is asking the EU to get the other member states to ratify them and speed up the global partnership agreement with Mexico and the ratification process of the free trade agreement with Ecuador, he said.
Commenting on climate change, he said there was an increase in water-related natural disasters around the world, and according to certain estimates, by 2025 some 1.8 billion people will live in regions with shortage of water supplies. Consequently the issue will have an increasingly important role in international security policy, he added. This will open the opportunity for Hungary to become an active participant in water policy regionally and globally, and to sell internationally recognised and demanded Hungarian water management technologies, the minister said. In the fight against terrorism it is important for the EU to sign framework agreements for security policy with as many Latin American countries, as possible, Szijjártó said. He noted that such deals have already been struck with Colombia and Chile.
According to the website of the Hungarian government, PM Viktor Orbán will also attend the summit of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. The Hungarian Premier is expected to hold bilateral talks with leaders of Central and South American countries, but the regular prime ministerial meeting of the Visegrád countries – Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary – will also take place, it added.
via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu photo: Yamil Lage – AFP / ticotimes.net