Although Hungary and Pakistan are geographically distant from each other, cooperation between the two countries is good in several areas, and the Hungarian government will double the number of university scholarships for Pakistani students to further improve relations, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced in Budapest on Wednesday.
At a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Bilaval Bhutto Zardari, the Hungarian Minister stressed that both countries face serious security challenges in their neighborhoods.
“It is also clear for both of us that our foreign policy decisions have to be made in the context of great power expectations and friendly guidance, and despite this, both Hungary and Pakistan have been able to maintain their sovereign foreign policies in recent years,” Péter Szijjártó said. He also pointed out that the parties have learned from their histories and locations that the channels of communication must always be kept open. The Foreign Minister added that
Hungary has learned the lesson that if east and west come into conflict with each other, Central Europe will only lose out.
Szijjártó also touched on the issue of increasing migratory pressures, stressing that the root causes are worsening, such as the threat of terrorism and the rise of extremist ideologies. He expressed his appreciation for Pakistan’s role in curbing illegal migration and fighting terrorism.
On economic issues, he said that
Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is now virtually the only Western energy company that has not withdrawn from South Asia, but continues to invest in Pakistan, contributing to security of supply and providing jobs for more than 800 people.
Finally, he announced that the number of scholarship places for Pakistani students in Hungarian higher education would be increased from 200 to 400 per year, in response to the huge interest and 12,557 applications received this year.
The two sides also signed an agreement on cooperation in higher education, sports, and diplomatic training.
Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó