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Central and Eastern Europe is the continent’s most competitive investment environment

He stressed that together the sixteen Central and Eastern European countries taking part in the cooperation scheme already constitute the European continent’s engine of economic growth, and they are about to embark on another phase of dynamic growth.

The Prime Minister observed that there was a time when the modernisation of Asia was only possible if Europe contributed significant technological and financial resources to the process. He said that now, however, the situation has been reversed: “the star of the East is now in the ascendant”, and we live in an era marked by the rise of Asia – and within it China. “We are at the beginning of a period in which the further development of Europe will be dependent on the technological and financial involvement of the East”, he said.

Photo: Gergely Botár

Mr. Orbán also highlighted that in Central Europe today developments and projects which would not be possible with European resources alone can be carried out with the resources and capacity of China. He added that the new world order which is now taking shape is characterised by the widespread presence – including in Hungary – of large and successful businesses from the Far East.

The Prime Minister said that Europe must not isolate itself, adding that if it does isolate itself, it will forfeit the possibility of growth, “and Europe must not isolate itself now, in particular, when it is facing historic challenges which we can only respond to if we have strong allies”.

In Mr. Orbán’s view, the “16+1” format not only serves the best interests of China and the sixteen Central and Eastern European countries, but also the whole of Europe and the European Union. This is therefore truly a “win-win situation”, he said.

He announced that the public procurement tender for upgrading the Budapest–Belgrade railway line – including funding from China – would be released on Monday morning.

He noted that this project is the first major development created with the cooperation of China, a Member State of the EU, and a candidate for EU membership. He added that this will create the conditions for the Silk Road on the Sea’s fastest freight route to Western Europe to run from its European terminal through Central Europe.

He also spoke about the President of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative, which he described as a new form of globalisation. This, he said, “will no longer divide the world into teachers and students, but will provide the basis for mutual respect and mutual advantage”.

The current summit will focus on the issue of financial cooperation as a particular priority, the Prime Minister said, announcing that after the Monday plenary session the Eximbanks of China and Hungary would sign an agreement on the second phase of the China–Central and Eastern Europe Investment Cooperation Fund.

Mr. Orbán concluded by saying that in the Central and Eastern European region there are no political obstacles of any kind to hinder economic cooperation.

At the opening of the forum, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said that the political and financing conditions are in place to enable businesses from China and the Central and Eastern European region to develop the most successful possible form of cooperation.

In his speech the Minister highlighted that, with their commonsense policies, growth rates above the European average and competitive investment environments, Central and Eastern European countries offer excellent opportunities to China.

Photo: Gergely Botár

He explained that while geographical distance always brings with it risks and difficulties, governments can help to improve business relations by focusing on the development of political relations and making the required financing available. He stated that both of these conditions for business cooperation are in place today. Mr. Szijjártó observed that today there are no unresolved questions or disputes that would hinder the further promotion of economic cooperation. The Foreign Minister noted that the volume of trade between China and Central and Eastern European countries exceeds USD 60 billion.

He announced the establishment of the China–Central and Eastern European Countries Inter-Bank Association, which represents a step forward in terms of the coordination of development funds.

The uncut version of the video recordings made at the event can be downloaded in the Press Room.