The reliable and predictable partnership between Hungary and Laos benefits both countries, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday, adding that this was even more important “under the current challenging international circumstances”.
Addressing a joint press conference with his Laotian counterpart, Saleumxay Kommasith, Szijjártó said the negative impacts of the war in Ukraine were being felt worldwide.
“Although we are thousands of kilometres apart, we both want the same thing, which is peace,” Szijjártó said. “It is in both of our interests that the war in Ukraine ends as soon as possible.”
He said decisions and remarks that risk escalating the war were “extremely harmful” to both Hungary and Laos.
“We respectfully ask the international community to stop making statements and decisions that risk escalation and instead concentrate on peace,” he added.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó praised bilateral economic cooperation, which he said could mitigate the “difficulties caused by the war and the failed sanctions policy”.
Hungarian businesses are carrying out investments worth HUF 80 billion (EUR 196.4m) in Laos’s food industry, water management and IT sectors as part of a tied aid scheme launched in the Southeast Asian country, the minister said, adding that preparations were under way for a fourth such programme.
Hungarian companies are investing around 10 billion forints in the development of Laos’s electronic ID system, 30 billion in the establishment of a comprehensive food safety system and HUF 40 billion in the construction of a water treatment plant for the capital, he said.
Hungary and Laos have also concluded an investment protection agreement, he said.
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Szijjártó said he and Saleumxay had signed a higher-education cooperation agreement for 2023-2025, adding that Hungary will continue to offer scholarships to 150 Laotian students looking to study in Hungary each year.
In response to a question about gas purchases, Szijjártó said prices on the gas exchange were highest when demand is high, as had been the case in August. But now that everyone has filled up their gas storage facilities, demand is down and prices have fallen, he said. He added, however, that countries would begin stocking up on gas again once the heating season was over, which would drive up gas prices.
“There is some delay in the pricing of long-term agreements when compared with the current price on the gas exchange.” Szijjártó said. “Everyone should clam down; the current low prices will be reflected in Hungary’s purchase agreements.”
Concerning ties between Hungary and the United States, Szijjártó said Hungary had applied the same openness to its relations with the US over the last nearly 13 years, adding that bilateral ties were changing in accordance with the leadership in the White House. “The remarks that we have seen from some representatives of the United States in the recent period are about anything but mutual respect,” he said.
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