Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said on Monday that now that Uzbekistan has opened an embassy in Budapest, all member states of the Organization of Turkic States have diplomatic representation in Hungary. Minister Szijjártó told a joint press conference with Uzbek counterpart Baxtiyor Saidov that his visit, the first by an Uzbek foreign minister to Hungary, was “an important event in diplomatic history”. Minister Szijjártó praised bilateral ties “based on mutual respect”.
The foreign minister also noted that OTP Bank is now the fifth-largest player in Uzbekistan’s banking sector, with around 1.6 million customers there. With OTP present in Uzbekistan, other Hungarian companies can venture there now that their legal and financial security is guaranteed, he added. Further, an industrial zone is being established near Tashkent specifically for Hungarian investors operating under preferential rules, Szijjártó noted, adding that many Hungarian companies have shown an interest in taking part. This involves government support, and a financial fund is being set up accordingly, he added. Also, the minister said a direct air link between the two capitals will be up and running by the end of the year, with two flights each week. In addition, the sides signed an MoU on cultural heritage cooperation. Meanwhile, Minister Szijjártó said members of the ethnic Hungarian community had fallen victim to the war in Ukraine as army conscripts. He called Hungary “a nation whose members are constantly losing their lives, and we want peace, immediate ceasefire and peace talks.” He said Hungary was “under constant attack in the European and transatlantic world”. “But the world is larger than the transatlantic region, and those that want peace represent a significant majority,” he added. “When Hungary argues for peace, it is part of a global majority … [so] reports about our isolation are fake news,” Szijjártó said. Referring to Uzbekistan, he said, “one of the countries that want peace is now opening an embassy in a country that also wants peace.”