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Sources of Supply for Trade with the East Shifting to Central Asian Region

MTI-Hungary Today 2023.07.24.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó (R) talks with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev (L) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on July 24, 2023.

The importance of Central Asia has increased in recent years, and Hungary started building relations with the countries of the region much earlier than other players, so today it has a competitive advantage in this respect, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest on Monday.

At a joint press conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Jeenbek Kulubaev, the minister noted that Central Asia has become significantly more valuable since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, and the sanctions imposed have made it virtually impossible to establish transit routes and trade relations.

Therefore, the physical routes, and to some extent, the sources of supply for trade with the East, have shifted to the Central Asian region.

Hungary, as an observer in the Organization of Turkic States, is already present in this region, and this is a strategic advantage for us, as we do not have to start our cooperation from scratch,” Péter Szijjártó maintained.

“We have a lot to gain from this cooperation and we are asserting our competitive advantage,” he noted.

The politician pointed out that this is evident in

the Hungarian-Kyrgyz trade turnover, increased by 71 percent last year,

setting a record, and has also registered a 3.5-fold increase so far this year.

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He welcomed the fact that on the basis of previous economic agreements, Hungarian companies have been given significant opportunities to modernize Kyrgyzstan’s water supply and irrigation systems, and various projects are being prepared in the food industry. In addition, a Hungarian company’s investment in the construction of a solar power plant is expected to start soon, and joint steel production worth HUF 2.5 billion has also begun in Bishkek.

Educational cooperation has been given a new impetus with the holding of a joint meeting of the two rectors’ conferences, and links between several Hungarian and Kyrgyz universities have been strengthened, the politician underlined. Two hundred students a year from the Central Asian country can receive scholarships to higher education institutions in Hungary, and the Hungarian Diplomatic Academy is also involved in the training of young Kyrgyz diplomats.

The minister called for closer ties between the European Union and Central Asia, and in this context, he said, the EU-Kyrgyzstan key partnership agreement, initiated in 2019, should be signed as soon as possible.

“We urge the people in Brussels to now consider these four years as enough time to sign the agreement so that it can finally be legally concluded,” he stressed.

Finally, he pointed out that

both Hungary and Kyrgyzstan are part of the global pro-peace majority, as both states have already paid a heavy price for the war in Ukraine, while they bear no responsibility for it.

At the third meeting of the Hungarian-Kyrgyz Strategic Council, the parties signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of environmental protection.

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Featured image: MTI/Noémi Bruzák

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