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Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his talks with President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov

It is an honour to welcome you here today. Good morning.

When there are so many things to sign, one feels a little as if one’s attending a church ceremony: one doesn’t precisely understand everything, one only knows that everything that’s happening is very important. And this is also the case now. We’ve signed this many agreements because so far Kyrgyz-Hungarian relations have been a somewhat neglected area of our system of foreign relations. The visit of the President – whom I’m honoured to welcome here today – is a special occasion, because at last it gives these relations the kind of content that’s warranted by the friendly feelings between our two nations. At secondary school, every Hungarian of our generation – when the habit of reading was more widespread than it is today – read Kyrgyz short stories or novels: in the communist era book publishers did not neglect the translation of Kyrgyz literature into Hungarian. And so our generation had access to this culture in the Hungarian language. I’m telling you this because for Hungary the importance of a country is not only determined by its population, the size of its territory or its GDP per capita, but also by its cultural achievements. So it’s no accident that at today’s talks the Hungarian government was represented in such large numbers. This is one way in which we’re expressing our respect for Kyrgyzstan and the cultural works which it has contributed to the culture of mankind. So we’re proud to be able to welcome the Honourable President. And it was especially gratifying that during our talks he made it clear that people in Kyrgyzstan are aware that at one point in time, a long time ago, the Kyrgyz and Hungarians were part of the same people. I can only add that our fates were intertwined not only in the distant past, but also more recently: Kyrgyzstan was finally able to regain its independence with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and that entire process required that in Hungary we first toppled communism and forced Soviet troops to leave. So events that fundamentally determined the fates of the two nations occurred not only in the distant past, but also in modern times.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We originally expected the President in April, but the pandemic made that visit impossible. As you’ll recall, in the first phase of the pandemic Hungary sought to contain the virus by effectively putting life on hold wherever we could, as we were facing an unknown enemy and we didn’t understand the nature of the pandemic. Now we are wiser, Honourable President, and in the second wave – as here in Europe and in Hungary we’re experiencing a second wave – we’re pursuing a different defence strategy. The precept of our present defence strategy is that the country, Hungary, must continue functioning. This means that diplomacy must function, and our foreign relations must also function; we must not neglect them either. So I’m informing the public that in Hungary diplomacy is continuing, though not with the usual impetus: we’ll be receiving guests in the near future, and we’ll also visit countries that are important for us. So, Honourable President, thank you for your visit now, which you were unable to make in April, and for enabling us to welcome you here.

I’d like to highlight a few specific issues. The agreements signed today include the setting up of a Kyrgyz-Hungarian development fund worth 50 million dollars, designed to finance cooperation between the two countries – particularly joint ventures. The President and I agreed that if this fund is used up we will be ready to increase the allocation. Today the greatest obstacle to experiencing in daily life the shared origins and friendship between our two nations is geographical distance. If we want this feeling of kinship and relations between us to be part of daily life, and not simply the privilege of diplomacy, we must link the two countries with an air route: a direct air route. The President and I agreed that by all means we must establish a direct air route between Bishkek and Budapest. The legal and financial conditions for this are in place, and we hope that this service will start soon. I’d also like to inform you that at present Hungary provides 75 state scholarships for Kyrgyz students. As a result of today’s talks, we’ve agreed to raise this number to 150. We believe that friendship is important not only in the present, but also in the future – and the future is in young people’s hands. Therefore our country’s young people should get to know your people’s culture, and vice versa; and one of the best means of achieving this is a system of scholarships, which – as you see – Hungary will extend. Finally, I can inform you that the President and I agreed that Hungary will be given an opportunity to invest in certain sectors in Kyrgyzstan. The Hungarian economy will take this opportunity, and we will also appear in the Kyrgyz economy’s market wherever we have the appropriate technology.

Honourable President, let me reiterate how grateful we are for your visit.