The Atlantic Era is about to come to an end, and a new age dominated by Eurasia is dawning, the governor of Hungary’s central bank, György Matolcsy contended at an online conference on Tuesday. He said the new epoque’s most important challenge will be long-term sustainability. Foreign Minister Szijjártó also held a speech at the event, talking about Hungary’s “Eastern Opening.”
Matolcsy spoke at the Eurasia online conference, which started on Tuesday. He said the world order was changing rapidly along the lines of global transformations of risks and opportunities. There needs to be a new balance between East and West, as well as between nature and technology. He said the coronavirus pandemic could “strengthen Eurasian solidarity and the development of solidarity between East and West.”
He also stated that a lot of the changes we see on the global stage are similar to processes in the 1940s and ’70s. According to Matolcsy, many lessons can be learned from these decades, especially as they relate to sustainability.
He noted that long-term sustainability will be one of the major themes of the coming age. A key aspect of the 21st century is that long-term sustainability is essential both in terms of geopolitics and as it relates to financial systems. Matolcsy believes that “we will be at the dawn of a new, 400-500 year-long era,” when the Atlantic age ends.
Foreign Minister: Eastern Opening Successful
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó explored the accomplishments of Hungary’s “Eastern Opening,” a coordinated effort to establish closer connections with Asian nations. He called this policy, criticized by many at the time of its inception, successful. “We made the right decision,” he said, as evidenced by increased trade and growing foreign direct investment from Asian countries:
“During the last decade, Hungary’s export to the East has grown by 22%, and trade with Asian countries has increased by 25% overall. Altogether, Hungarian exports now total over EUR 100 billion. Foreign direct investment has also grown substantially.”
Szijjártó emphasized that it is not for ideological reasons that Hungary supports Eurasian cooperation, but due to practical considerations. The EU’s share of global GDP fell from 26% to 21% over the last decade, while that of Asian countries grew over the same period. He said:
We have to make Europe great again.”
Eurasia makes up 71% of global GDP, and is responsible for 80% of global investment. He stated that “Hungary is happy to take on the role of the bridge in Eurasian cooperation.”
The Minister also noted that we can regard the pandemic as an opportunity. Primarily, we can increase our competitiveness through the changes that have arisen due to the virus.
Other speakers at the conference included Zhou Xiaochuan, vice president of Boao Forum for Asia and former president of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, and Hongbo Wu, special envoy to Europe and former Under-Secretary-General of the UN.
In the featured photo illustration: György Matolcsy. Photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI