Hungary to become the driving force behind central Europe's cooperation with central Asia

Hungary signs an agreement with Tajikistan to strengthen relations with central Asia

Officials have said that Hungary wishes to become the driving force behind central Europe's partnerships with central Asia.

According to Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary wants to be the engine of cooperation between central Europe and central Asia, "in which Tajikistan could be one of its important partners”.

Following signing an agreement with his Tajik counterpart, the minister stressed that "while the EU is too inward-looking and is focusing on its own problems because of the immigration and other crises, central Europe must be the flag-bearer with regard to the fact that Europe must indeed become more open towards more distant regions," he said.

“Central Asia could be an important partner to Europe because of its energy sources, natural resources and economic potential,' he explained, adding that “Hungary and Tajikistan are both supporters of close cooperation between the two regions”.

Minister Szijjártó told reporters that in view of the fact that Tajikistan neighbors Afghanistan he had assured his Tajik negotiating partner that Hungary will continue to participate in efforts aimed at settling the situation in Afghanistan, with over a hundred military personnel serving in the mission there, in addition to which Hungary is also helping to train Afghan forces in the interests of stability.

“Because of the wave of immigration the greatest attention is currently being paid to Syria and Europe’s southern and south-eastern neighbourhood, but we should not forget about Afghanistan, because if the country is not stabilised then it could lead to an increase in migration pressure and a higher threat of terrorism in Europe," he said, adding that “settling the situation in Afghanistan has not fallen out of the focus of Hungarian foreign policy”.

With regard to bilateral relations, Szijjártó also highlighted the importance of personal relations, explaining that Hungary is offering 20 scholarship places-a-year for students from Tajikistan to attend Hungarian universities.

“We have finalised the agreement on the mutual protection of investments and Eximbank has opened a 36 million USD credit line to give Hungarian enterprises a better chance of entering the Tajik market," he said. “In addition, water management is also an important area of bilateral relations," he added.

Tajik Foreign Minister Sirodjidin Aslov emphasized that “Hungary and Tajikistan are committed to tightening relations and incorporating new fields of cooperation”.

The goal is to develop a long-term partnership between the two countries, he said, listing investment projects, energy, environmental protection, transport, logistics, the chemical industry, agriculture, healthcare culture and education as possible fields of cooperation.