President János Áder discussed education cooperation and a new tied aid programme Hungary is launching in Laos with Laotian officials in Vientiane on Friday.
Áder, who is the first Hungarian president to visit Laos since Hungary’s change of regime, held talks with his Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and National Assembly Speaker Pany Yathotu.
In a statement, Áder noted that Laos’s prime minister had visited Hungary in the spring and held talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. At the talks, Hungary offered to launch a record-value tied aid loan package in Laos covering multiple areas, he said.
Following his talks on Friday, Áder said Hungary’s fourth tied aid scheme would help develop Laos’s agriculture, food security and health-care sector.
Hungary considers the previous three aid schemes it has launched in the country to have been successful, he said. “This is another reason why we’re open to launching a fourth project,” the president added.
Hungary has so far provided 200 million dollars’ worth of tied aid to Laos, Áder noted.
He said Laos had undergone remarkable economic growth over the past ten years. Another reason why it is in Hungary’s interest to provide aid to the Southeast Asian country is that if Laos can improve its infrastructure and increase its presence on the Chinese market, the Hungarian companies involved in the aid schemes can gain an advantage, the president argued.
Education was another focus of Áder’s talks, with the president noting that a total of 180 Laotian students study in Hungary on university scholarships. He recommended to Laotian officials that over the course of Hungary and Laos’s partnership in education, more Laotian students should apply for agriculture and forestry-related programmes.
The president’s talks also touched on the issue of water management. He said “the drama of too much and not enough water” was especially prevalent in Laos, arguing that “devastating” floods in the country were often followed by severe droughts. Water management will become a crucial issue for the country over the coming years and decades, Áder said, adding that this would open up new opportunities for cooperation between Laos and Hungary.
Áder is scheduled to wrap up his three-day visit to Laos on Sunday and travel on to Cambodia. There he will meet King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen.
featured image: Áder with Pani Jathutu; via MTI/Noémi Bruzák