Cooperation between Hungary and Kazakhstan is a good example of the success of Hungary’s eastern opening policy, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday, after meeting his Kazakh counterpart, Mukhtar Tleuberdi. Szijjártó was awarded the title of honorary professor at Nur-Sultan’s LN Gumilyov Eurasian National University.
At a joint press conference after the talks in Nur-Sultan, Szijjártó said the two countries were striving to improve their ties, rather than “lecturing each other and interfering with each other’s internal affairs”.
International cooperation has never been as important as during the coronavirus pandemic, Szijjártó said, noting that Hungarian exports to Kazakhstan grew by 58 percent last year, and reached 165 million dollars.
In the same period, world trade contracted by nine percent, he said.
The Hungarian Eximbank has opened a 170 million dollar credit line to help finance cooperation between Hungarian and Kazakh companies, Szijjártó said. It is also opening a branch in Nur-Sultan, he added.
Among Hungarian successes in Kazakhstan, Szijjártó noted that pharma company Richter is now selling 98 medicines in the country. A Hungarian company is also building the cooling unit of a power plant in the country, in an investment coming to 4 million dollars, he said.
Hungary continuously exports beef to Kazakhstan, and is about to start exporting corn, he added.
Hungarian professionals are also involved in developing the Kazakh stock exchange, he said.
Hungary also plans to join the Eurasian Development Bank, to expand financing options for Hungarian companies in the region, he said.
Discount airline Wizz Air is going to restart its flights from Budapest to Nur-Sultan in June, he noted.
Altogether 250 grants are offered to Kazakh students wishing to study at Hungarian universities, bringing their numbers above 1,000, he added. Nur-Sultan’s Eurasian University is opening a Hungarian lectorate on Tuesday, and will start teaching Hungarian next September, he said.
Kazakhstan is one of the main players in developing the European Union’s Eurasian ties, Szijjártó said. Hungary is fully committed to developing that cooperation, and supports easing visa restrictions with the country, he said.
Szijjártó also praised the work of Kairat Abdrahmanov, commissioner for minority rights at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and former Kazakh foreign minister. Abdrahmanov “grasps the constant infringement on the rights of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine,” he said.
Tleurbedi called Hungary a close ally and Kazakhstan’s only strategic partner in central and eastern Europe.
He thanked Hungary for aiding 400 Kazakhs to return home at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the humanitarian aid provided by Richter in December.
Szijjártó made honorary professor at top Kazakhstan university
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó was awarded the title of honorary professor at Nur-Sultan’s LN Gumilyov Eurasian National University in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
In his acceptance speech, Szijjártó expressed his pleasure at the chance to represent a country that is proud of its heritage and culture. Hungary, too respects countries with rich cultures, he said, adding that this mutual respect provided “the perfect foundation” for the continued development of Hungarian-Kazakh relations.
The minister said Hungary was proud of its shared historical and cultural heritage with central Asian countries. He added that Hungarians were regarded as “either the easternmost western people or the westernmost eastern people”. Whereas this view had been considered condescending in the past, today it is taken as a compliment, Szijjártó said.
Cooperation between Hungary and Kazakhstan is based on mutual sympathy, he said, adding that in order to further develop their bilateral ties, the two countries needed to develop the relations between their people. The best way to do this, he said, was through education.
Szijjártó said Hungary was proud that under an agreement signed on Tuesday, the LN Gumilyov Eurasian National University will begin teaching Hungarian in September.
The LN Gumilyov Eurasian National University has ties with Gödöllő’s Szent István University and the University of Szeged.
Asked about the future of Hungarian-Chinese relations and Hungary’s strategic plans at a press conference after the ceremony, Szijjártó said Hungary maintained a pragmatic cooperation with China based on common sense, mutual interests and respect.
China is one of Hungary’s, and Europe’s most important investors and trading partners, Szijjártó said, adding that he regarded the dispute about cooperation with that country “hypocrisy”.
“Countries that are the loudest in criticising Hungary for its pragmatic cooperation with China are the ones that would strike in secret the biggest deals with that country,” he said.
Featured photo illustration by Sztojcsev Mitko/Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade