Building ties with Southeast Asia ‘great potential’, says Hungarian FM

Building closer ties with Southeast Asia has a “great potential” for Hungarian businesses, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after talks with his Philippines counterpart in Budapest on Friday.

At a joint press conference with Teodoro Lochin, Szijjártó said that the Southeast Asian region’s economic boom and increased import demand offers great opportunities for the Hungarian economy.

Szijjártó welcomed that Hungary’s exports to the Philippines had grown by 74 percent in the first 11 months of last year and added that the goal was to help Hungarian businesses to further market opportunities.

He added that the food industry and water management could the the “flagship” of Hungarian exports.

At the talks, Szijjártó voiced Hungary’s solidarity with the Philippines over a recent terrorist attack by the Islamic State organisation on a Catholic church. The attack “also shows that the global fight against Islamic extremism, a hotbed for terrorism, must be stepped up”, he said.

Lochin thanked Hungary for its assistance to Christian communities and advocating protection for those communities in the United Nations.

Lochin said that bilateral political and economic ties are strong, with farming and water management as primary areas in business cooperation.

Answering a question, Szijjártó confirmed that Hungary is planning to deploy an intermediate range missile system to protect its strategic facilities. Talks are under way with potential suppliers including the US, he said, and added that the seller would be named after conclusion of talks.

Szijjártó also said that Hungary was a “proud and committed” member of NATO but added that membership “does not involve exemption for building defence capabilities of the country’s own to protect itself if there is trouble”. He added that it would be “irresponsible” of the government if it neglected developing such capabilities.

Featured image: MTI