“Hungary has an opportunity to develop its cooperation with Kazakhstan particularly within the fields of the oil industry, agriculture and water management”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI in a telephone statement from Astana on Monday.
The Minister, who is on a tour of Central Asia, added that the main goal of his visit is to suitably prepare Hungary for its upcoming membership of the Visegrád Group (V4), which begins on 1 July, in view of the fact that the most important task of the Hungarian presidency is for the V4 to significantly expand operation between Central Europe and Central Asia.
“Major Hungarian economic interests are associated with this cooperation, and in Kazakhstan particularly with regard to the fields of the oil industry, agriculture and water management”, he added.
“Thanks to years of negotiations, it has become possible for Hungarian oil company MOL to begin extraction at an extremely large Kazakh oil field this year, in cooperation with companies from China and Kazakhstan. The new oil field could achieve production of 45 thousand barrels of oil-a-day in the near future”, the Minister told the press.
“In addition, a 40 million euro Hungarian-Kazakh investment fund has been established to facilitate the export of Hungarian agriculture and food industry technologies to the rapidly developing Kazakh market”, he continued.
“Thirdly, Budapest Waterworks is in negotiation with several large Kazakh cities with relation to the modernisation of their water management systems, in view of the fact that urbanisation is occurring extremely rapidly in the Central Asian country, and this process must also be matched by the expansion of public services”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
The Hungarian Foreign Minister said that bilateral trade flow is also increasingly extremely dynamically, increasing by 600% during the first four months of this year. The main reason for this is that Hungary has significantly increased its crude oil imports from Kazakhstan, as well as increasing its pharmaceutical industry exports to the Central Asian country.
The Minister presented President of the International Turkic Academy Darkhan Kydyrali with a memorandum stating Hungary’s wish to join the Academy as an observer. The International Turkic Academy was established in 2012 by Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan to facilitate cooperation and research within the fields of science and culture. “The Academy welcomed the Hungarian initiative, and accordingly Hungary could soon become the organisation’s first observer member”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
According to the Minister, education relations between the two countries are also expanding dynamically: Budapest had offered 200 scholarship places for students from Kazakhstan to attend Hungarian universities, which Astana has readily accepted.
“Hungary is calling for the European Union to conclude a visa agreement with Kazakhstan and to reinforce their strategic cooperation on energy security, because Kazakhstan could play an important role in establishing European energy security”, he said.
Hungary and Kazakhstan would like to play the role of bridge between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia), because “Europe will only be able to regain its competitiveness and can keep up with the world’s dynamically developing regions if the eastern and western parts of Eurasia can finally begin cooperating in a civilised and effective manner”, he declared.
“As two strategic partners, Hungary and Kazakhstan could play an extremely important role in this cooperation in future”, he added.
Mr. Szijjártó met with his Kazakh counterpart, Foreign Minister Kayrat Abdrakhmanov, was received by Chairman of the Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and his further programme includes a meeting with Prime Minister Bakhytsan Sagintayev, Minister of National Economy Timur Suleymenov and Governor of the Astana international Finance Centre Kairat Kelimbetov.
The Hungarian Foreign Minister also visited the Kazakh and Hungarian stands at the Astana EXPO 2017 International Exhibition.