Cooperation between Hungary and Kazakhstan is a good example of the success of Hungary’s eastern opening policy, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after meeting his Kazakh counterpart, Mukhtar Tleuberdi. 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% last year, and reached 165 million dollars. In the same period, world trade contracted by 9%, 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.