Budapest, November 28 (MTI) – Hungary strives to be the engine of cooperation between central Europe and Central Asia, and Tajikistan is expected to be an important partner in this regard, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Monday.
Szijjártó told a news conference that while the European Union was turning inward and focusing on its own problems due to the migration crisis and other calamities, central Europe must fly the flag in terms of being truly open to farther-flung regions. With is energy capacities, natural resources and economic potential, Central Asia is an important partner for Europe, he added.
Aslov Sirodjidin, Szijjártó’s counterpart, said Hungary and Tajikistan are committed to strengthening ties and including new areas of cooperation.
Szijjártó reassured his Tajik counterpart that it would continue to participate in efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan, one of Tajikistan’s neighbours. Hungary has more than 100 troops serving in the mission helping to train local forces in the interest of stability, he noted.
Due to the migration crisis, Syria and south-eastern Europe tends to be in the centre of attention, but Afghanistan cannot be forgotten, as a lack of stability there could mean a rise in migration pressure and terrorism threat from that country, too, Szijjártó said. Helping to restore stability in Afghanistan remains among Hungary’s foreign policy goals, he said.
Tajikistan defends a border along 1,400km with Afghanistan, and “Hungary understands what great efforts are needed to carry out this task,” he said.
Szijjártó said person-to-person relations are an important aspect of bilateral relations, and Hungary is offering 20 scholarships annually to Tajik students. An agreement on the mutual protection of investments has been finalised, and it is expected that Hungarian companies will be more successful in competing on the Tajik market as a result, Szijjarto said. Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a credit line of 36 million dollars, he added. In addition, water management is an important area of cooperation.
Sirodjidin confirmed that Tajikistan, too, is committed to forging closer ties with Hungary and finding new areas of cooperation. He said the goal is to cement long-term partnership between the two countries and possible areas for cooperation include investments, energy, environmental protection, transport, logistics, the chemical industry, agriculture, health care, culture and education.
The two ministers signed a cooperation agreement between their ministries.