Budapest, May 24 (MTI) – The setting up of a Budapest centre for the World Health Organisation (WHO) will boost cooperation between Hungary and the United Nations, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said in parliament on Tuesday.
In recent years, the UN has been moving some of its specialised institutions and organisations away from Geneva in order to cut operational costs, Szijjártó said. As part of this process, WHO has decided to move some of its Geneva functions to Budapest, including its Collaborating Centre on Human Resources for Health Development, he added.
WHO’s decision has been in line with the Hungarian government’s intention to attract as many units of the UN and other international organisations to Budapest as possible, Szijjarto told lawmakers. This benefits Hungary and the skilled workers who can gain international experience from such opportunities and it also has financial and professional advantages, he said. This is why the government is asking parliament’s approval to the law on the agreement with WHO, Szijjártó said.
Budapest is in a good position in the competition for hosting UN institutions and organisations thanks to its geographical location, infrastructure, available workforce and highly-developed financial and IT sectors. The WHO Budapest centre is planned to start operation with a staff of 28 and the organisation will decide later on whether to transfer further functions to Budapest, he added.
The ruling Fidesz welcomes the plan that one of the UN’s most important organisations, the WHO, is to set up its centre in Budapest, spokesperson Monika Dunai told parliament. This shows that international organisations consider Budapest a reliable partner in managing global problems, she added.
The opposition Socialist group supports the proposal and welcomes the opportunity for Hungary, spokesman Attila Mesterhazy said. There is a possibility for the centre to be expanded in the future but it is very important that the Hungarian government should take into consideration the WHO’s recommendations, for instance on cancer prevention, he added.
Radical nationalist Jobbik said it supported the proposal, but noted that it involved certain financial obligations. The party’s spokesman Gyorgy Laszlo Lukacs said Hungary will pay 16 billion forints (EUR 50.6m) in the next 15 years as a result of hosting the centre.
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