Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Excellency, General Secretary,
We have just completed an interesting and strategically important meeting. This was made even more interesting by the fact that – although the constitutional systems of our two countries differ to a significant extent – each of the negotiating partners can be regarded as his people’s most important leader, playing a decisive role in the actual political decision-making of his country. It was in this capacity that I welcomed the General Secretary and expressed Hungary’s respect for him, our gratitude for his visit, and our thanks for the honour he has bestowed on us by coming here.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This meeting was special for two reasons. The first is that Vietnam is a country which has undergone radical change and renewal, and has become one of the leading countries in the Far East. The other important aspect of this meeting was that we have globalisation to thank for our being able to stand with each other here today: the global economy has entered a development phase in which technology, capital and goods no longer only flow from West to East, but also in the opposite direction. If you look at the trade figures, you will see that, over the space of two years, exports to Hungary from Vietnam – which from our perspective are imports – have quadrupled; and if you examine the internal structure of this increase, you will see that extremely technologically developed goods have been arriving in Hungary from Vietnam, and via Hungary to the rest of Europe. This is a new phenomenon within the global economy, which has become obvious in the past few years. In 2010 Hungary began adapting to this new situation, with what we call our Eastward Opening policy, our Eastward Opening foreign policy. Acknowledging this change in the global economy, we constructed a new strategy, and we have established close strategic partnerships with countries like Vietnam. Today the General Secretary and I agreed to raise relations between our two countries to the level of strategic partnership.
Please allow me, Honourable General Secretary, to inform the Hungarian public that from here in Hungary Vietnam looks like an outstandingly successful country. It is a country whose economy is expanding by over 6 per cent year on year, and one which every forecast indicates will remain one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the coming years and decades. It is a country that has almost full employment – by European standards it is indeed full – and the country’s importance in global political terms has also increased significantly. The largest countries in the world – not only the most highly developed, but also its largest, leading powers – are all striving to forge strategic alliances with Vietnam. This means that there are ever more of us throughout the world who have an interest in Vietnam being a successful country. Vietnam’s success is an encouragement to us, because it shows that a country can be successful – and perhaps can only be successful – if it adopts a social, political and economic system that best suits it, and which is derived from its own culture, and develops the life of its own people within that system.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is an old relationship that goes back many decades, and we would like to build on the affinity and friendship that has grown over these past decades. In 2016 we launched a tied aid programme worth 500 million euros. This is the largest financial programme ever launched for this purpose in the history of the Hungarian economy. As I also told the General Secretary, Hungary is a country that is globally competitive in certain sectors, rather than across the whole economic spectrum. The areas in which we are extremely competitive include health care, education, water supply and agriculture. These are exactly the areas in which, with the tied aid programme, we are able to participate in the construction of modern Vietnam. I would therefore like to underline the fact that this is Hungary’s largest credit programme, which we have not yet been able to fully exploit – so there will be further great opportunities for cooperation. At the prompting of our Vietnamese friends, we are encouraging Hungarian enterprises to invest in Vietnam. Several such investments already exist, and you have just witnessed the signing of three water management agreements that serve this purpose.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We also came to an agreement on strengthening bipartisan and inter-state relations. We made it clear that Hungary has an interest in free trade negotiations between the European Union and Vietnam being concluded as soon as possible, and in the launch of free trade in the true sense. This is also the position that we have represented in recent years. We have always supported the European Union concluding as many free trade agreements as possible with those countries with which cooperation provides the hope of benefits; a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union is one of these. We placed emphasis on improving tourism opportunities, and agreed that the two countries’ politicians should encourage their countries’ businesspeople.
I would also like to specifically mention education. One of Hungary’s most important export goods is knowledge. We have outstanding universities. Foreign students are keen to come to attend universities in Hungary. The Hungarian state has launched a scholarship programme, as part of which, for instance, we are providing scholarships to two hundred Vietnamese students every year. Our Vietnamese friends are slowly but surely making increasing use of this opportunity. I would also like to say that our strongest position in Vietnam is the fact that now around three thousand highly trained professionals live there who acquired their degrees at Hungarian universities in recent decades. They are our friends, and they know us, Hungary and the Hungarian mentality; and for this reason they are happy to cooperate with Hungarian enterprises. We would like to maintain this quota and make maximum use of it.
We will soon be celebrating an important anniversary for diplomatic relations between our two countries. I have asked the General Secretary to help us celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries by enabling Hungary to open an outstandingly high-quality cultural representation in the Vietnamese capital in 2020.
Overall, therefore, I must state that we have just completed a productive meeting. We have concluded important agreements, and I see the prospects for friendship and economic cooperation between our countries as being extremely encouraging. I sincerely thank the General Secretary for being a partner in this series of negotiations, that has raised our relations to strategic significance. He has not only shown himself to be a partner now, but also some years ago when I visited Vietnam: I was not only received by the state leaders, but was also kindly received by the General Secretary himself, who urged that we work together to intensify relations between our two countries. This has happened today.
Honourable General Secretary,
Thank you on my own behalf, on behalf of my government and on behalf of my country, for the honour of the attention that you are devoting to Hungary.