Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Thursday held talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Chingiz Aidarbekov, pledging Hungary’s commitment to opening to the East, a policy which he said benefitted Hungary’s people and economy. The talks focused on the visit of Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov to Hungary, scheduled for April 23 but postponed to August-September. Szijjártó said Central Asia is one of the world’s fastest developing regions.
Hungary has always been a champion of cooperation between central Europe and central Asia, a possible precursor of the cooperation between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), he told an online press conference. Szijjártó said Hungary would be the first EU country to sign a strategic cooperation agreement with Kyrgyzstan. Hungarian companies in Kyrgyzstan are active in water management, food processing, agriculture and information technology, he added. The ministers have agreed to set up a 50 million dollar Hungarian-Kyrgyz investment fund to help Hungarian companies in the country, Szijjártó said. Hungary also offers 150 state-funded grants for Kyrgyz university students, Szijjártó said. Talks are under way on an EU-Kyrgyz partnership and cooperation agreement, Szijjártó said, calling on Brussels to speed up the procedure.
The coronavirus pandemic poses greater challenges to developing countries such as Kyrgyzstan than to stable ones like Hungary, Szijjártó said. Hungary therefore supports the OECD in suspending Kyrgyzstan’s loan repayments, he added.