Addressing Hungary’s ties with Latin America at the opening of the 3rd Latin American Forum in Budapest on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that if an open economy such as Hungary’s wants to perform well, it must build effective ties with fast-developing countries in Latin America.
“Observing the current rapid changes in world politics and the economy, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to speak of the emergence of a new world order,” Szijjártó said. The changes are testing nation states and their preparedness for integration, he said, adding that to reach success, a completely new political approach is needed, and it is now legitimate for every government to say that the national interest should take precedent.
The minister said it was clear that Hungarian foreign policy had to be radically transformed in a way that made it capable of recognising and enforcing national economic interests while supporting Hungarian economic growth and development. The government was right to focus on building relationships with rapidly evolving parts of the world, and its policy of opening up to the south has brought many successes, he said, noting that four new foreign missions have been opened in Latin America and 40 honorary consuls are active in the region.
Szijjártó said that bigger countries than Hungary with stronger economies were paying ever greater attention to Latin America, and this is why it was important for Hungary to act in time.
As part of Hungary’s policy of opening up to the south, in the first eight months of the year, exports to Latin America grew by 49 percent, so it makes sense to focus on ties with Latin America, he said.
He added that Hungarian companies are making great strides in Latin America in the areas of information technology, water management and the pharmaceuticals industry.
Hungary has offered 560 scholarships to students of Latin American countries, he noted.
Referring to talks held on the sidelines of the forum with Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, Colombia’s foreign minister, Szijjártó said that Colombia’s peace agreement has created conditions for large-scale economic growth.
Bilateral ties with Colombia have increased by 19 percent this year, which indicates the interest of businesses in further cooperation, he said.
Hungary supports Colombia’s endeavours to join OECD, and negotiations between the two countries on avoiding double taxation are under way, Szijjártó said. Hungary and Colombia have also agreed to mutually support each other’s nominations for various United Nations posts.
Holguin Cuellar announced that her country, jointly with Peru, will open an embassy in Budapest. She praised Hungary for regarding Latin American countries as partners, and said that Hungarian investors were welcome in the region. She suggested that her country’s agriculture might offer opportunities for many Hungarian firms.
Featured image: MTI