Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary started building ties with Central Asia before other players and now enjoys a competitive advantage in a region of growing importance.
Minister Szijjártó told a joint press conference held with his Kyrgyz counterpart Jeenbek Kulubaev in Budapest that in the wake of the war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions on Russia, well-used transit routes and trade relationships had become “essentially impossible”. As a result, “physical trade routes and the supply routes of some resources moved to central Asia. Hungary, an observer in the Organisation of Turkic States, has a strategic advantage in the region … and has brought that advantage to fruition,” he said. Hungarian-Kyrgyz trade volume jumped by a record 71% last year and 3.5-fold this year already, he said. Earlier economic agreements brought excellent opportunities for Hungarian companies in the modernisation of Kyrgyzstan’s water management and irrigation system, and several projects in food processing, Minister Szijjártó said. A Hungarian company will start a solar power plant investment project soon, he said, adding that joint steel production in Bishkek is so far worth 2.5 billion forints (EUR 6.6m).
Minister Szijjártó also called for strengthening ties between the European Union and Central Asia. He called on the EU to ratify a strategic partnership agreement with Kyrgyzstan that was finalised in 2019. On the war in Ukraine, Minister Szijjártó said Kyrgyzstan and Hungary were both members of the “global pro-peace majority”. “Both countries have paid heavily for the war in Ukraine which they are in no way responsible for,” he said. “We both think there is no solution to this war on the battlefield … and so we want a ceasefire as soon as possible, and want to play a role in keeping channels of communication open,” he said. At the third meeting of the Hungarian-Kyrgyz strategic council, the two countries signed an agreement on environmental protection. Responding to a question about Hungarians evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes where wildfires are raging, Szijjártó said that 80 Hungarians had been evacuated so far. The foreign ministry is in contact with 122 Hungarians on the island, he said and called on them to register on the consulate’s website for assistance.