Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to greet the President of Russia. In the name of the people of Hungary I would like to express my thanks to you for visiting us. A visit from the President of Russia is always an honour for us.
We have just completed several hours of successful negotiations, and economic issues were at the centre of these talks. I am sure you know that Hungary is striving to maintain open and transparent relations with Russia, and in this context we meet once a year at the highest possible level to review the state of Russian-Hungarian relations. Last year I had the opportunity of visiting Moscow, at the invitation of President Putin; thank you for returning our visit. We have determined that both parties have fully honoured all of the agreements that we concluded last year and the year before. We signed the documents on issues relating to regional cooperation, Hungary opened a consulate general in Kazan and we also concluded the plan on foreign affairs consultations. We confirmed that we have also fully honoured the agreements that we signed on energy. Thank you, Mr. President, for assuring Hungary’s supply of natural gas until 2021, through an amendment to our previous agreements; we have concluded all of the related agreements on this subject. And today we have decided to ask our colleagues to begin negotiations on the supply of gas after 2021. We also discussed the issue of nuclear cooperation, with regard to which we noted that we have already succeeded in removing most of the obstacles. Only a single question remains to be resolved, and we expect the EU to come to a decision on this issue in the near future. It is our firm belief that our agreements fully conform to European Union regulations, and so, in accordance with our agreement, we are counting on preparatory work beginning on site as early as this year, and actual construction work beginning in 2018.
One of the reasons we should especially value the results of economic cooperation is that we have achieved them in a difficult international environment. We have all seen the development of strongly anti-Russian sentiment in the western half of the continent, and anti-Russian politics have become the fashion. It has been within this atmosphere that we have had to protect our economic relations and preserve as much of them as we can. I am sad to say that, despite our best efforts, trade between the two countries has suffered major damage, for reasons beyond our control. This damage amounts to 6.5 billion dollars in total: this is the damage we have suffered. Therefore Hungary maintains its standpoint that problems of a non-economic nature cannot be addressed with economic measures, and it is wrong to transfer the conflicts of a given area – the conflicts of an area that does not include the economy – to the territory of the economy. That will only result in everyone suffering and everyone losing out. Accordingly, we very much hope that we will soon see the emergence of good Russian-European cooperation. It is difficult to imagine Hungary being successful if we do not develop open, strong and fruitful economic and trade cooperation with the major players in the global economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We likewise established that our undertakings on cultural cooperation have also been fulfilled. The two countries have granted university scholarships to each other’s students, and the Hungarian government has decided to renovate four Russian Orthodox churches in Hungary; the budget for this has already been set aside, and work will begin shortly.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am convinced that one of the most important achievements of our cooperation is that, in accordance with the agreement concluded with President Putin, over the past two years Hungarian food industry investment projects have been realised in Russia. This is important to the Hungarian national economy. We would like to continue this process, and today we agreed that following the success of investments by Hungarian agricultural enterprises, Hungary’s water management sector will also be receiving the opportunity to invest and realise development projects in Russia – providing it can fend off the competition. This is an area in which Hungary is a global frontrunner; it is a major opportunity, and I regard it as a breakthrough from the perspective of Hungarian foreign trade.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that there is open debate within the European Union on several foreign policy issues. We have reviewed these, but, as Russia and Hungary move in two different spheres when it comes to geopolitical issues, I shall leave these to President Putin to speak about. All I would like to say is that, thanks to the dedicated – and sometimes courageous – work of the past few years, we have salvaged and protected everything possible from Russian-Hungarian relations; and we have occupied a good starting point, so that when the world returns to the logic of cooperation, the Hungarian economy can relaunch on the Russian market from a favourable position. In this I can draw the conclusion that our meeting was successful and fruitful, from both economic and political perspectives – and for this I would once again like to thank President Putin.