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Hungary’s policy of opening up to the East has boosted its economy, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said at a meeting of businesspeople in Dushanbe. In Tajikistan, Richter is the largest European drug-maker and Hungarian water companies are among those making investments in the country, the minister said. The strategic move of Hungary’s Eastern opening has “made a big contribution to the Hungarian economy’s good performance”, he said, adding that Hungarian exports had increased by 27% over the past five years, and exports to the East had broken records. Szijjártó said that furthermore, most new investments in Hungary in the last seven years had come from China and South Korea.
Notwithstanding the coronavirus epidemic, Hungarian exports were worth 104 billion euros last year, putting Hungary’s export performance 34th in the world, even when is ranked 93rd by population. The minister said Hungary-Tajikistan political relations were “settled” and neither country interfered in the other’s domestic affairs, adding that person-to-person relationships were being developed, with the Hungarian state providing scholarships to 20 Tajik students each year. This year 71 students already applied for 20 university places, he noted. Szijjártó said Hungary’s Eximbank is opening a 30 million US dollar credit line to foster ties between Tajik and Hungarian companies. Also, as part of the country’s “flagship” project, a large Hungarian company — in this case drug-maker Gedeon Richter — is investing in Tajikistan to be followed by a flotilla of smaller companies. Szijjártó is heading a delegation of representatives of Richter, the food industry, as well as electronics and water management companies to Central Asia, including Tajikistan.
Speaking later at the opening of a consulate in Dushanbe, Szijjártó said Hungary wanted to give new impetus to relations with Tajikistan from which both countries can benefit. Success cannot be achieved without proper presence and representation, which is why Hungary has decided to open a consulate in the Tajik capital, he said. The primary task of the office will be to promote the development of economic, inter-company and trade relations, he added. The two countries will celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic links next year. “We have always based our relations on mutual respect and common goals,” Szijjártó said.
The Hungarian government launched the policy of opening to the East 11 years ago and it has been an unwavering success, he said. Hungary has profited a great deal from this strategy in all areas of life and the strategy pays special attention to central Asia, partly because of the serious opportunities resulting from economic growth and partly because of security aspects, he added. If central European countries are successful in the fight against terrorism and extremist ideologies, this contributes to the security of Europe, Szijjártó said. “We greatly appreciate Tajikistan’s counter-terrorism activities and its efforts to protect the common border with Afghanistan. Hungary also protects the external border of the EU against illegal migration and we know precisely that it requires great efforts to protect a country’s own sovereignty and security at the borders. This is why we have lobbied at the EU for increased financial support to Tajikistan,” he said.