Budapest (MTI) – A new chapter has opened in Hungarian-Egyptian relations, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after talks with Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, in Budapest on Friday.
Orban said an agreement the two leaders had just signed would bring dynamism to the two countries’ economic and political ties.
At a joint news conference, Orban said Egypt and Hungary’s economic network of ties had survived all types of political regime, and Hungary’s presence in the country “had always been strong”, he added, mentioning especially military cooperation.
One hundred scholarships have been established for Egyptian students, he said. Egyptian television and radio have forged cooperation with Hungarian public-service media, he added.
The prime minister said that in many places in Europe there was a fear of Islam, and even an antipathy towards it. Hungary is not such a country, he said, adding that in Hungary Islam is seen as one of humanity’s great intellectual and spiritual creations.
“We must speak of Islam with a voice of respect,” Orban said, adding that Hungary believes in cultural diversity. At the same time, it is not certain that social and organisational methods adopted in the western world are always successful and should be adopted by other civilisations.
“We are not teachers of democracy; decisions must be made by each nation concerning their own affairs,” he said, wishing the people of Egypt good luck in “walking their own path”.
Egypt is a special country without which there is no stability in the Arab region or in Europe, Orban said.
The Egyptian president urged Hungary to take part in his country’s developments and asked it to stand up for it in the European Union, he said in a statement. He called for strengthening industrial and trade relations between their countries.
President al-Sisi called talks in Budapest “fruitful” and noted that Hungarian-Egyptian ties had been seamless for a long time. He thanked Hungarian soldiers for serving in the Sinai Peninsula for twenty years.
Al-Sisi said he and Orban addressed Egypt’s position on the fight against terrorism, on possibilities of conflict resolution in Libya and the Syria-Iraq conflict.
“Agreement between our countries was apparent in our talks,” he said.
Before their meeting Orban and al-Sisi signed a joint declaration and two other cooperation pacts had been signed by the two countries beforehand. They also signed a letter of intent for Egypt’s order of 700 Hungarian railway carriages as well as a declaration of agreement on cooperation between their internal affairs ministries.
Addressing a business forum organised by the Hungarian National Trading House later in the day, Orban said Hungary was interested to see Egypt succeed.
President Al-Sisi told the forum that after four years of instability Egypt has embarked on the path of growth. He asked Hungarian companies and investors to contribute to the process.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the institutional background was available to take Hungarian-Egyptian business and trade relations to a new level. Hungary opened a trading house in Egypt last year, as a result of which Hungarian exports to Egypt jumped by 88.3 percent in January-March this year, Szijjarto said. Bilateral trade between their countries rose by 67.6 percent last year, he added.
Ashraf Salman, Egypt’s minister of investment, told the forum that his country builds the economy on three pillars and that Egypt is increasing its free trade relations and its consumer markets are growing.