Relations between Hungary and Uzbekistan have “solid foundations” and cooperation between the two countries has “gained good momentum”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Tashkent on Tuesday.
Orbán said he arrived in the Uzbek capital with “great hopes and optimism”. He spoke highly of Uzbekistan’s efforts to “use available resources in a modern economy” and called it a “respectable programme”.
The prime minister thanked Uzbekistan for its sending hundreds of thousands of face masks to Hungary at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year. “The Hungarians will never forget that,” he said.
Orbán said that Hungarians and Uzbeks “held hands at the right time”, at the start of a new epoch in the global economy, and would use opportunities of a “great transformation” together. He said that “without a flagship of economic cooperation chosen at the beginning, good intentions would get fragmented and evaporate”. He called for “one or two major programmes, and shared ventures to give a clear signal to Hungarian and Uzbek ventures that something serious is in the making and that they can safely sail following the big flagships on calm waters”. He added that “some flagships” had already been identified “to promote the economies of the two countries” and suggested that bilateral cooperation could focus on finance and modernisation of the Uzbek agriculture, as well as nuclear energy and pharmaceutical production.
Despite a shrinking global trade, the bilateral trade turnover has significantly increased, Orbán said, adding that it indicated a potential, which could be further increased through prudent policies.
Concerning Hungary’s taking over the rotating presidency of the Visegrad Group, Orbán asked the Uzbek president to assist promoting cooperation between countries of central Europe and Central Asia.
Orbán said he had extended an invitation to the Uzbek president for a visit to Hungary, and added that he would also propose a joint session between the two governments to review the achievements of their cooperation.
Szijjártó: Hungarian companies to upgrade strategic sectors in Uzbekistan
The Uzbek and Hungarian governments on Tuesday signed nine agreements in Tashkent, paving the way for Hungarian companies to upgrade strategic sectors in Uzbekistan, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, told MTI.
OTP, Hungary’s biggest bank, is the first foreign bank to be given the opportunity to take part in the Uzbek banking system’s privatisation, with related negotiations at an advanced stage, the minister said.
Also, Hungary is expected to pay a major role in boosting Uzbek nuclear energy production. Uzbekistan, the world’s 7th largest uranium producer, is building a new nuclear power plant to be completed by the end of the decade, and the design of the cooling system is based on a Hungarian patent, Szijjártó said.
In connection with modernising Uzbekistan’s higher education system, the University of Debrecen has agreed to set up a campus in the country, he said, adding that the Hungarian University of Agriculture is participating in the scientific transformation of Uzbek agricultural higher education.
Eximbank meanwhile, is providing a 100 million US dollar credit line to underpin the development of Hungarian-Uzbek ties.
In the featured photo: PM Orbán with Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan. Photo by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office