Ambassador Qi Dayu: „China-Hungary friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the peoples.“ Photo: Embassy of China

Interview with the Chinese Ambassador in Budapest Qi Dayu

China and Hungary have set a good example for state-to-state relations

On October 1st, the People's Republic of China celebrates its 73rd birthday. Six days later, it is also the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Hungary.

In the run-up to both anniversaries, we spoke to Qi Dayu, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Hungary, about Sino-Hungarian relations and some current challenges in China.

 

How do you evaluate China-Hungary relations and cooperation? 

Hungary was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. October 6th this year marks the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Hungary. For the past 73 years, China-Hungary relations have stood the test of wind and rain, gradually deepened over time, and are solid as rock. 

In recent years, China and Hungary have achieved remarkable results in friendly cooperation and jointly created many “firsts”. Hungary is the first European country to sign a MOU on Belt and Road Initiative with China, the first central and eastern European country to set up an RMB clearing bank, the first European country to open a bilingual school teaching Hungarian and Chinese, and the first EU member to recognize and use Chinese vaccines. This year also marks the 5th anniversary of the establishment of China-Hungary comprehensive strategic partnership. Under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China-Hungary relations have witnessed high-level and high-quality development.

 

How close are the China-Hungary relations? In what aspects?

China and Hungary have set a good example for state-to-state relations by adhering to the principles of mutual respect, equality and win-win cooperation.

First, strategic mutual trust has been deepened. Hungary adheres to a friendly policy toward China, abides by the One-China principle, and upholds a fair position on issues concerning China’s core interests, while China firmly supports Hungary to pursue a development path suited to its national conditions and to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests. 

In recent years, leaders of the two countries have maintained high-level exchanges through phone calls and meetings, charting the course for the development of bilateral relations. Since the beginning of this year, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó have met in person or spoken by phone four times. They had in-depth communications regarding each other’s core concerns and coordinated positions on major international issues, which fully demonstrates the high-level political mutual trust between the two countries.

They had in-depth communications regarding each other’s core concerns and coordinated positions on major international issues, which fully demonstrates the high-level political mutual trust between the two countries.

Second, practical cooperation has yielded fruitful results. In recent years, under the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-CEEC cooperation, the practical cooperation between China and Hungary has made commendable achievements. The economic and trade ties between the two countries have been increasingly strengthened and digital and green partnership forged. 

The successful launch of direct cargo flights from Zhengzhou and Ningbo to Budapest has served as an “air bridge” for economic and trade exchanges between the two countries during the pandemic. The successful operation of new freight trains of China-Europe Railway Express further enhanced Hungary’s status as a logistics hub in the region. Practical cooperation between our two countries is continuing to radiate vigorous vitality.

Third, joint efforts between the two countries have helped to overcome difficulties, to be specific, the pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Hungary have supported each other and worked together to fight against it. In face of the severe situation of the pandemic, Hungary decided to take the lead in approving and using Chinese vaccines, showing high trust in Chinese vaccines. China has also given priority to Hungary by providing 5 million doses of vaccine, lending strong support to the Hungarian government in safeguarding people’s lives and health and restoring normal economic and social order. Our two countries have once again demonstrated that we are trustworthy partners and good friends to each other amid trying times.

The Chinese and Hungarian peoples respect each other’s long history and splendid culture.

Fourth, people-to-people programs and cultural exchanges between China and Hungary have flourished. The Chinese and Hungarian peoples respect each other’s long history and splendid culture. There are many bright spots in our cooperation on national and sub-national level in education, culture, science and technology. The five Confucius Institutes and the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual school have fostered generations of envoys of friendship. Activities such as the “Happy Chinese Spring Festival”, the painting competition and the Chinese Bridge competition have written a moving symphony of China-Hungary friendship. With 42 pairs of sister city (province) relations, bilateral local cooperation has been deepened and strengthened. Since the beginning of this year, direct flights between China and Hungary have been resumed, further facilitating the people-to-people exchanges and business cooperation. China-Hungary friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the peoples.

Fifth, international coordination has become closer. China and Hungary are committed to true multilateralism, defending the international system with the United Nations at its core, upholding international law and basic norms governing international relations, and promoting fairness and justice. Hungary actively urged Europe to view China from a more objective and fair standpoint. As important founders of China-CEEC cooperation, the two sides have worked together to ensure the steady and long-term development of the mechanism so as to achieve more results, thus contributing to the sustainable, sound and stable China-EU relations.

 

What is the current status of Hungarian-Chinese cooperation? 

Having jointly focused on high-quality construction of “Belt and Road”, China and Hungary have synergized the Belt and Road Initiative with the strategy of “Opening to the East” to achieve fruitful results in trade and economic cooperation. In the face of the adverse impact of the pandemic, China and Hungary have overcome difficulties to promote the quality and quantity of practical cooperation. Bilateral trade has bucked the trend, reaching US $15.71 billion in 2021, up 34.5 percent year on year. From 2012 to 2021, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 8.4 percent. 

 

What is China’s total investment in Hungary? How many jobs have the Chinese companies created for the local citizens?

Hungary has been the largest destination of Chinese investment in central and eastern Europe for many years. So far, Chinese companies have invested US $16 billion in Hungary, creating 23,000 jobs. The Budapest-Belgrade Railway and other major projects have made solid progress. 

This year, a number of green and new energy projects such as CATL and NIO have been officially launched, injecting strong momentum into practical cooperation between the two countries. Several new projects are expected to arrive in Hungary in the coming years, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

 

Could you please give us a brief introduction about the Chinese community in Hungary?

As the Hungarians’ ancestors came from the East, the Chinese and Hungarian peoples share a natural sense of closeness. We have a relatively large Chinese community in Hungary. They have been working hard in trade, finance, catering, tourism, culture and education and making positive contributions to Hungary’s economic and social development. At the same time, they take advantage of their familiarity with the languages and cultures of the two countries to serve as a bridge for exchanges in various fields and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. It is believed that with the gradual resumption of international exchanges, the friendly exchanges between the two peoples will become more active and achieve greater development.

 

On October 1st , the People’s Republic of China will celebrate its 73rd anniversary of the founding. What achievements have China accomplished so far? 

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC have achieved a historic leap from standing up to becoming rich and strong by embarking on a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics through self-reliance and hard work. 

Over the past decade, China has made a series of brilliant achievements in national development: the first centenary goal achieved and a moderately prosperous society in all respects accomplished. We are moving toward the goal of building a great modern socialist country in an all-round way. 

China’s GDP rose from 53.9 trillion yuan in 2012 to 114.4 trillion yuan in 2021, accounting for more than 18% of the world economy, up from 11.3%, and contributing more than 30% to global growth for many years in a row. 

The people’s living standards have improved significantly, with a per capita GDP exceeding US $12,000 and an average life expectancy reaching 78.2 years. China has made a historic effort to eliminate absolute poverty, lifting 98.99 million rural residents out of poverty, creating a miracle in the history of poverty reduction. 

We successfully coped with various risks and challenges and accomplished many major and difficult tasks. In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China has uphold the supremacy of the people, coordinating economic development and epidemic prevention and control. The Beijing Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics were successfully held, presenting a streamlined, safe and splendid Olympic event to the world. The institutional superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics has been further demonstrated. 

China has successfully entered the ranks of innovative countries—its ranking in the Global Innovation Index rising from 34th to 12th place, and a large number of new achievements being made in manned space flight, lunar exploration and quantum communication. 

Major steps have been taken in building a more beautiful China, with more blue skies and white clouds, more livable urban and rural environments, and a path of civilized development featuring increased production, a prosperous life, and a sound ecological environment. “Clear waters and green mountains are as good as mountains of gold and silver” has become the consensus and action of the whole society.

 

How will China’s development prospects be like?

The Communist Party of China takes development as its top priority in governing and rejuvenating the country, and takes realizing the people’s aspirations for a better life as its goal. Based on its national conditions, adapting to and advancing with the trend, China has found a development path that suits itself and benefits the world. The 5000-year-old Chinese civilization has endowed us with the aspiration and wisdom to pursue harmonious and peaceful development.

With the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the united efforts of the 1.4 billion people, the solid foundation for sustained and rapid development, and the spiritual strength of self-confidence and self-improvement, the trend of China’s development will be for the better in the long run, the prospect of China’s progress will be even brighter, and the story of the Chinese miracle will be even more exciting. 

Next month, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held in Beijing. The Congress will comprehensively review China’s major achievements and valuable experience in reform and development, fully grasp the new requirements for China’s cause and the new expectations of the people on the new journey in the new era, and formulate a program of action and major policies. Standing at a new historical starting point, China will achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through modernization with Chinese characteristics, and work with other countries to do its best for peace and development, to take responsibility for unity and progress, to build a community with a shared future for mankind, and to jointly create a better world.

 

How has China responded to the ongoing challenges such as the pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and the continuous pressure from the United States? 

The world today has entered a new period of turbulent change, with more unstable and uncertain factors, and more “black swan” and “gray rhino” events. In the face of changes unseen in a century and the superimposed impact of the pandemic, China advocates and practices true multilateralism, opposing the hegemonic power and political blocs; safeguards the international system based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter with the United Nations at its core; and promotes the development of the global governance system in a more equitable and reasonable direction. 

President Xi Jinping put forward the grand goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind as well as major initiatives such as the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative. All of these ideas presented a clear Chinese plan, fundamentally responded to the universal demands of all countries in the world to pursue development and progress, and brought together all countries across the world for a better future. It is hoped that all countries will work together to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world with lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

 

What is your view on the China-US relations? How could a healthy and constructive relationship be built?

In recent years, China-US relations have attracted international attention. Since China and the US are the world’s top two economies, the largest developing and developed countries, China-US relations will have an important and far-reaching impact on the development of the two countries and the world at large. 

The progress and development of human society entails constantly drawing lessons from human history, gathering up the courage, leveraging the wisdom and breaking the mind-set that a great power is bound to seek hegemony. On top of that, it is also required to get rid of the cold war mentality and the bloc confrontation, insist on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and unswervingly pursue a new type of international relations and of major-power relations. 

It should be noted that enhanced exchanges and cooperation between China and the United States meet the expectations of the international community and serve the fundamental interests of both countries. Both President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden believe that China-US relations should only be improved rather than damaged. Both believe that there should be no conflict or confrontation between China and the United States. Both call for closer exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The US always contradicted itself. It argues for stable China-US relations. At the same time, it defines China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge, constantly creates “democracy against authoritarianism” narrative, continues to wage trade war against China. The US keeps provoking China on issues concerning China’s core interests and development rights, for example, by indulging in Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, to visit Taiwan. That is why the US keeps deviating from the right track of China-US relations. 

The US has to adjust its foreign policy towards. otherwise it will be difficult to maintain stable China-US relations and the China-US relations may even slide into a more dangerous situation. China will not become another United States. The US cannot mould China to its liking. Neither side is able to topple the other down. Instead, both sides need to pursue a common goal by respecting choices of each other and sticking to win-win cooperation based on equality and mutual respect.

 

What is China’s position on the Ukraine issue?

China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, the reasonable security concerns of all parties should be taken seriously, and all efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully should be supported. The “four shoulds” are China’s most authoritative statement on the Ukraine issue and also China’s fundamental approach to this issue.

In response to the current situation, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward China’s four-point proposal during the UN General Assembly: First, we must adhere to the direction of dialogue and negotiation. Second, we must work together to ease tensions. Third, the humanitarian situation must be alleviated. Fourth, full efforts must be made to contain spillover effects. As a responsible major country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always been committed to promoting peace talks. We will never stand idly by, pour fuel on the fire or take advantage of the situation to make profits. China always stands on the side of peace and will continue to play a constructive role.

 

Qi Dayu has been the Chinese Ambassador to Hungary since October 2020. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in 1986 and served as Deputy Director-General of the Eurasian Department and Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.

I4MS: A European initiative for manufacturing boosting the Hungarian standard of living

Hungary: leaping towards digitalization and Industry 4.0.

Manufacturing SMEs are in a front line of the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, difficulties in implementing Industry 4.0 practices are slowing down the pathway to the digitalisation of society. Hungarian SMEs must access the support to be at the forefront of Europe.

According to a Corvinus University of Budapest study (2021), Hungarian SMEs are moderate innovators and invest less in their employees’ training: “The Hungarian government should promote SME owners’ and managers’ change of attitudes related to digitalisation and innovation. In addition, supporting employees’ training activities is also crucial to improve SMEs’ digitalisation and adopt I4.0 technologies”.

The same study points out the lack of data to define if government measures have impacted the development of high-tech manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services. Nevertheless, it remarks that supplier development and Industry 4.0 programmes are relevant enough in economic policy to expect some improvements. Economic cycles have also to be considered: “The role of the Hungarian government is to continue to support SMEs’ innovation activities and digital transformation to increase their role in high-tech manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services”.

“Digital Welfare Financial Programme” to develop SMEs’ digital infrastructure and digital competencies

In the case of digitalisation, the Digital Welfare Programme (2015), aim was to support digital transformation awareness for entrepreneurs and society. Two main strategies were adopted and harmonised to integrate the industry 4.0 principles for Hungarian SMEs:  

  • Digital Export Development Strategy: to enhance export by using ICT tools 
  • Digital Start-up Strategy: to support the creation and development of innovative start-ups with high growth potential 

The programme’s update (renamed Digital Prosperity Program 2030) aims to respond to the identified challenges and opportunities and continue supporting society’s transformation into digitalisation changes. 

In addition, since 2016, the free programme Industry 4.0 Sample Factories has offered to provide experience and knowledge for SMEs to learn about industry 4.0 technologies to improve their competitiveness. Interested SMEs are invited to register to be part of factory visits and demonstrations and to get to know the entire range of Industry 4.0 technologies through concrete examples.

I4MS, experiments of the innovation actions

At the European level, I4MS, ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs, is a European initiative supporting manufacturing SMEs and mid-caps in spreading information and communication technologies (ICT) in their business operations. One of the key services that the I4MS initiative offered SMEs was the possibility of testing with one of the technologies supported by I4MS. Innovation Actions provided end-users with technical support and cascade funding for implementing Application Experiments (AEs) based on their specific I4MS technologies. Hungarian SMEs were involved in two of them: DigitBrain and DIH World.

Premet is the Hungarian SME in ProMED, a DigitBrain experiment. The main objective of ProMED is to optimize the production of customized metal medical devices through the combined use of additive and subtractive manufacturing. A digital twin of PREMET’s production pipeline will be developed and used to simulate many fabrication processes quickly. Impacts are expected at a technical level since the product model can be replicable in any Advanced Manufacturing enterprise. At an economic level, the experiment will allow for production time reduction, cost saving, quality improvement and, indirectly, increase competitiveness, profitability and job creation.

The CAADEX experiment, also under innovation action DigitBrain, counts on Hungarian DIH Innomine, Manufacturing company Caadex and Business Intelligence systems agency. The experiment’s main objective is to reduce switchover times and increase the efficiency of the production line of snow guards for the roofs.

In the DIH World experiment, Smart buildings “Made easy”, Dél-Alföld region is involved as a referent site for the Z-wave technology which allows for connection and automating functions of smart buildings. The project team delivered practical training and developed optimized solutions for the different practical environments with the objective to make Smart Building functions available for all.

I4MS Stakeholders event: learn about tools and funding opportunities

On the 19th of October, the I4MS initiative will celebrate its final event in Budapest at the Bálna Center to bring together the manufacturing ecosystem. Networking and showcasing opportunities for European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs), European projects, SMEs, technology providers and other stakeholders of Industry 4.0 driving innovation and technology adoption across the EU will be the conference’s focus. The event will include an exhibition to discover the use cases, gamified networking activities, panels and keynotes about tools, funding opportunities and more.

Register for the event and join the European leadership and digital game-changers of the manufacturing industry 

Follow our social media Twitter and LinkedIn

This publication has been paid by I4MS, a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 951848. 

 

A dentist in Budapest is analyzing a panoramic x-ray. Photo: BT / archive

Traveling Abroad for Dental Care

A New Smile in Hungary

Nowadays, medical tourism is a natural phenomenon, with hundreds of thousands of people traveling abroad in Europe to seek affordable healthcare.

Dental tourism is no exception either, as it is is very expensive, especially on the Western side of Europe, just like in the US, Canada or even in Australia.

Hungary, part of the EU, is located in the middle of the continent and has become a popular destination for dental tourists worldwide. Roughly 80% of medical tourists traveling here seek teeth treatments. Thus in the country medical tourism is more or less equal with dental tourism and it is so significant that about 50% of the overall European foreign patients are directed to Hungary.

How did it all start though?

In the 1970s and 1980s, Austrians from small villages near the Austrian-Hungarian border came to our country because dental care was expensive in Austria and cheap in Hungary. The Austrians were satisfied with the result and delighted by the cheap prices, and as time went by, not only people from the near border villages came to Hungary, but also patients from further away in Austria. As always, the good news spread quickly, satisfied patients all over Austria praised the Hungarian dentists to all their relatives and acquaintances. Soon foreign patients started coming not only from Austria, but also from other Western European countries.

The process was accelerated by the introduction of low-cost economic class flights, and gradually the destinations of foreign patients shifted from the Western part of Hungary to clinics in Budapest. Thanks to the previously mentioned cheap flights, patients are now coming not only from neighboring countries but from all over Western Europe. In fact, a significant number of patients are now flying to Hungary from the US or even Australia to return home with a brand new smile.

The main motivation is the cheaper price combined with high quality

Treatments in Hungary are much cheaper than in the Western part of the continent. How is this possible? In Hungary, despite being a long-standing member of the EU, the average price levels and income levels are much lower than in other EU countries. Consequently, the price of private health services is also lower. Dental cares provided to foreigners are not subject to VAT.
As clinics specializing in dental tourism buy large quantities of quality materials from reputable manufacturers, they can obtain significant discounts of up to 40% on purchases from large companies such as Nobel, Starumann or Camlog. This also ensures a lower price for the quality materials used. Thanks to this, on an average day, oral surgeons in a major clinic in Budapest often place 40-60 implants. Of course, this amount of work is done by several dentists in several chairs in one day.
The reputation of Hungarian dentists and dental education is very high. In Hungary, around 200 dental students start their training at Semmelweiss University every year with a share of 40% from foreign countries.

How much can you save on dental in Hungary?

In some countries of Western Europe, health insurance or tax regulations provide subsidies for dental care. In France, for example, each treatment has a fixed value, which of some is reimbursed to those with insurance. For the French, because Hungary is also a member of the EU, the same reimbursement is available even if you have your treatment here and not in France. In Ireland, a tax relief of 20% is available for dental care. This applies even if the work was carried out by Hungarian clinics.
In the UK, the NHS subsidies only a very limited range of services, and this does not include implant screws, which is the most popular solution for dental tourists.

A broad generalization of dental care in Hungary is that foreigners can save between 30-70% compared to Western European prices. The more complex the treatment one needs, i.e. the more expensive the work, the greater the savings can be made by having it done in Budapest.

Just a side note, that the Hungarian dental costs are considered very pricy for Hungarians due to their lower salary, so these costs are only attractive for foreigners.

 

Money for treatment – more or less? Photo: BT / archive

 

What kind of dental treatments do foreigners come to Hungary for?

There are two broad categories of treatment needs.

Some people have healthy teeth but are not satisfied with their smile, the shape and size of their teeth. They typically come to Hungary for aesthetic or cosmetic dental treatments and many of them are looking for a full smile makeover, or a Hollywood Smile. The Hollywood Smile is a solution where the patient is fitted with zirconia or E-max full porcelain crowns or the same type of veneers on all teeth. This solution results in a perfect smile. Minor teeth problems like misalignment, discoloration, and chipped teeth in addition to shape and size problems are hidden behind veneers or crowns.  Unquestionably, very spectacular results can be achieved, with such a smile makeover treatment.

A simpler smile makeover, involving 8 to 12 front teeth, typically visible when smiling or speaking, with zirconia veneers or crowns, is available for between €3,000 and €4,500.
A true Hollywood Smile, where each tooth is fitted with a zirconium veneer or crown, ranges from €8,000 to €10,000.

Others seek care in Hungary for health reasons, i.e. they have bad teeth or want to replace missing ones. They typically seek tooth replacement with implants, crowns, bridges or the popular All-on-4 solution. The latter means that in the case of a completely edentulous jaw, the dentist places 4 implants in one jaw and a denture or a complete bridge is placed on top. All-on-4 restores about 80-85% of the chewing power and stability of natural teeth for a person with no teeth at all. 

Dental implants in Hungary are so competitively priced that UK patients usually travel to Budapest even for one implant based tooth replacement. The price of a full tooth replacement with a single implant ranges from €1,000 to €1,400, depending on whether the patient chooses a mid-range or top-quality implant screw, or a metal-ceramic or zirconium crown. The above mentioned price includes the implant screw, the abutment and crown, which are the components of an implant-based tooth replacement for a single tooth.

An All-on-4 or All-on-6, which provides a full arch implant-based restoration, ranges from €5,000 to €9,000 depending on the type of implant used and the material of the crowns. For All-on-4, the price range is more likely to be somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000EUR. 

In the case of a complete bridge fitted on 6 implants, which is known as All-on-6, a bit higher price range should be expected. It is about 7,000 to 9,000EUR in Hungary. If the patient wants zirconium teeth, and bone grafting or sinus lift is also required, the price may slightly increase.

If someone needs a cheaper but implant free solution, they can have metal-ceramic bridges or crowns at an average price of 200EUR/crown/bridge unit. This is the best value-price tooth replacement solution for damaged teeth or minor tooth deficiencies with a gap of one or two teeth, because metal-ceramic is durable and aesthetic, although it is not as aesthetically pleasing as zirconia crowns. However, it is perfect for restoring full bite, chewing and speech abilities.
So, if you add the price of the flight and accommodation to the final bill it will still be much less in Hungary than it would be in the UK, France, Ireland, the US or Canada.

Of course, the price paid for the treatment in Budapest is also reduced by the tax and insurance reimbursement, for French and Irish patients.
The dentist prices in the Hungarian capital are slightly more expensive than those in the countryside, although Budapest has much more to offer than only the quality dental clinics, in terms of attractions and entertainment, and the airport is only 20 minutes away.

Foreigners tend to visit Budapest’s famous baths, the Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and the worldwide-famous Parliament and Opera House. The Hungarian cuisine is also very famous and exceptional, with visitors eager to try the ‘stew’, ‘goulash soup’ and ‘fish soup’.

Getting a quote from Hungary

If you’re wondering how much you could save by fixing your teeth in Hungary, there are several ways to find out.

Clinics specialized in treating foreign patients, will be happy to make you a personalized quote if you can email them a good quality OPG (panoramic x-ray).
If a would-be patient does not have a panoramic x-ray result, it is also possible to have a referral made by a clinic in Budapest, which will have the OPG made abroad at an imaging or scan centre.

Some Hungarian clinics offer consultation in England, Ireland or even Switzerland. In this case, if they have their own clinic abroad, not only a consultation but also an annual check-up can be done there. However, if warranty treatment is required, this is typically carried out in Budapest by clinics that have a facility abroad, given that the work was also done in Budapest. It is good to know that clinics with a foreign office provide service in Budapest at a slightly higher price than clinics with a Hungarian office only.

It is also possible for prospective patients to visit the clinic in Budapest where the treatment will be carried out. For this purpose, clinics provide a consultation package, which usually includes a free consultation in Budapest, panoramic X-ray and airport transfer, although some clinics also pay for a night’s accommodation. It is worth taking the time to visit several clinics in order to get a personal experience of the place and the dentist you are going to see for improving your smile.

In summary, what are the advantages of dental treatment in Hungary?

First and foremost, the very competitive price, which is always combined with good quality. Clinics in Budapest typically state, in their quotation, which implant brands and crown and veneer materials will be used. So for someone studying such a quote it becomes clear that good prices go hand in hand with quality materials. This makes travelling to Hungary extremely attractive. In addition, the treatment plans also include details of the schedule, the number of visits required and their length.

You can start your treatments quickly, there is no real waiting list in Hungary. You may have to wait a week or two to start work, but this is nothing compared to the waiting times of several months in French and English-speaking countries. In Hungary, all cares were available during the COVID period. Foreign patients were also coming for dental work in Hungary, although not as many as before due to difficulties in travelling.

Treatments are quick, usually requiring 2-3 days in Budapest for oral surgery (e.g. implants, bone grafting, sinus lifting). For prosthetic work involving veneers, crowns and bridges, the average time you need to spend in Hungary is 4-8 working days, depending on the number of teeth treated.

Most foreign patients come to Budapest because there is so much to see and do that they can easily combine their holiday with smile improvement, meaning that every minute spent abroad will prove to be useful.

Is it really worth it?

Besides the advantages, there are also downsides to consider.

You have to fly to a completely foreign country and use dental services there. This is risky even with the best intentions. It is advisable to research very carefully the  conditions, guarantees and experiences of previous patients. Google reviews can help a lot with that too.

Warranty conditions are always put in writing by the clinics, anyone who has not received one should always ask for one. This is typically part of the quotation. To maintain the guarantee, an annual Budapest check-up is required. For US and Australian patients, some clinics make an exception whereby it is enough for them to send an OPG and a brief summary of the results of the annual check-up by a local doctor and the warranty is still active.

If urgent help is required after treatment in Budapest, local dentists are reluctant to help those patients who fixed their teeth abroad. This is worth noting, as it can take hours of travel within the country to find a local dentist who would be willing to help urgently.

If you have to come back to Hungary for a warranty treatment, the clinics do not cover the cost of accommodation and travel, only the treatment is free of charge.

Generally, for aesthetic and prosthetic works, one trip is enough, but for implant-based restorations, you will need to fly to Budapest at least twice or in some cases even three times.

Still the vast majority of dental tourism patients are satisfied with the results and would do the whole process again if they needed to. And probably this is also a reason why the number of foreigners that come to Hungary for fixing their teeth increases year by year.

 

Photo: Pixaby

Company formation in Hungary

Looking for the best country for European company formation?

If you consider yourself a businessman who aspires to freedom, independence and an self-ruling lifestyle, set your eyes upon Hungary.

Europe is an ever exciting place to start or deepen your business realm with numerous opportunities throughout its member states. One country that we would like to open your eyes to, focusing on company matters and taxes, is Hungary.

The lowest company tax in the EU since 2018

Hungary has been working on easing the tax system, both the personal and company income tax, that used to be one of the highest in Europe. Behind this lies the European Union policy which says that each country needs to lower tax burdens to facilitate the efficiency of the tax system.

Out of several reasons why Hungary is a flourishing business environment, we would like to point out that now you can find the lowest corporate tax here in the European Union. Sounds great, right? So if you are considering Hungary as a place to carry out an European company formation and start business here, we can assure you that the 9% flat company income tax is an excellent opportunity. 

Another significant factor when deciding to set up your European company in Hungary is the possibility of  VAT free and Custom free business operation and the European single market which holds great opportunities for entrepreneurs. 

Are you interested in EU residency? 

If a company formation is not on your horizon, there is another way to acquire EU residency by real estate investment in Hungary. Just think about what a great opportunity it would be to invest in real estate either in Budapest or in any other part of Hungary. Budapest is now a real metropolis where more than 100.000 foreigners have chosen to live. Budapest also boasts a party district which might be a key factor when choosing a property.

Company formation in Hungary
“The company formation in Hungary is a fast and easy process and takes only 24-48 hours and in addition to this, the 15% flat personal income rate is also considered to be low.”, says Dr. Melinda Győri, legal consultant at BUSINESSImmigration.hu.   Photo: Pixaby

Hungary has been through many historical and cultural happenings throughout its long existence in Europe but one can say that this country has always welcomed other nationalities. Looking at the origins of its inhabitants you can see that even though today the population speaks one national language, still the country’s background is a multinational palette. 

Though Hungary is small in size, the variety of its natural landscape forms its immense beauty. Hungary boasts several national parks, a great number of minor nature reserves and many landscape protection areas. We can call Hungary the land of spas with more than 1,300 thermal water springs which provide a ceaseless opportunity throughout the year for bathing in spas in the whole country.

The list could go on why Hungary is a very attractive target for those who are interested in EU residency by real estate investment. One thing is sure, investing in real estate in Hungary is a great opportunity for those who want to enjoy the special atmosphere of the Hungarian landscape and culture alongside business aspirations. 

Azerbaijan's second-largest city of Ganja after an Armenian missile attack. Photo: Embassy of Azerbaijan in Budapest.

Analysis / The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

What can end the clashes in the South Caucasus?

On September 27, the South Caucasus witnessed a new escalation in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This war has turned the world's attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has remained unresolved for 30 years.

The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, consisting of France, the USA and the Russian Federation, have been dealing with this problem for 26 years, unable to produce any results. With Nikol Pashinyan becoming Prime Minister of Armenia, many people hoped it would push towards a solution of this problem. In fact, during the first meeting between the leaders of the two countries held in Dushanbe in 2018, Prime Minister Pashinyan asked for time from Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in order to consolidate his power in the country and to take creative substantive steps regarding the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Provocative steps

However, Nikol Pashinyan instead chose to take provocative steps under the influence of competition in his domestic policy. At this point, he has even made harsher and more radical statements than Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan, who are regarded as the Karabakh clan. These steps taken by Armenia have provoked Azerbaijan and strengthened the idea of ​​war in the country, whose last hope for peace has now been exhausted.

Although the international community has taken some steps in hopes of stopping the conflict from its initial start date, it has not yielded any results. Since the beginning of the clashes, with Russia, France and USA’s coordination, the two sides have thrice agreed on a temporary “humanitarian truce”, although neither three turned into a final ceasefire agreement. During the humanitarian truce, as a result of Armenian ballistic missile attacks, 61 Azerbaijani civilians lost their lives.

Rescue workers right after the missile attack on the city of Ganja.   Photo: Embassy of Azerbaijan in Budapest.

While the Armenian side argued that a ceasefire should be achieved urgently without preconditions, the Azerbaijani side argued for a timetable to be put forward for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. This plan is in accordance with the four resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 2008. James Warlick, a former U.S. diplomat and one of the Minsk Group co-chairs, also shared in his twitter that peace is possible only if the occupied territories are returned to Azerbaijan.

Nonetheless, Armenia does not accept these offers. In his interview and address to the nation, Nikol Pashinyan made a statement saying that they do not accept these conditions and told Armenians that “we will either fight to the end or accept the offer of Azerbaijan”. After the twice occurring meetings in Moscow between Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan declared that the problem does not have a diplomatic solution and they will fight until the end.

Lack of sufficient international support and attention

Both sides have complained about the lack of sufficient international support and attention. Elections held in the USA have negatively affected the country’s activity on this issue. In general, experts believe that the US interest in the region has been in decline since the Obama and Trump era. However, the presidential candidates have recently called for an end to the war. Trump’s rival Joe Biden declared in a statement that for a permanent ceasefire, Armenia has to withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh region. US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison has also stated that “Armenians should live within the borders of sovereign Azerbaijan! This can be resolved and then this conflict will end”.

Different approaches were taken by EU member countries. While Hungary and Italy supported the position of Azerbaijan, French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that “France will not allow Azerbaijan to enter Nagorno-Karabakh” pleased Armenia, while making Azerbaijan believe that France undermined its neutrality as a member of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. But later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian corrected President Macron’s remarks and stated that France should remain neutral on this issue.

As a member of the CSTO, Armenia first expected a Russian military intervention. After Pashinyan’s fourth phone call, Vladimir Putin made a statement saying that the clashes were not taking place within the borders of Armenia and that the CSTO would not intervene. Afterwards, Armenia called for Russian peacekeeping troops to be brought to the region. However, since this region is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, peacekeeping troops cannot be deployed without the approval of Baku. According to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the arrival of peacekeeping troops here should be the last step after a political solution is reached. According to Matthew Bryza, former member of Minsk Group Co-Chairs, peace units cannot come to the region from Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.

In addition, Azerbaijan has constantly insisted on Turkey`s involvement in the negotiation process, hoping that it will speed up the resolution process. Although Turkey is one of the members of the OSCE Minsk Group, it is not a Co-Chair.

No Turkish forces involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Despite some claims, Turkish forces are not on the ground fighting against the Armenian troops. As reported by the Azerbaijani officials, the Azerbaijani army has sufficient manpower to remove the Armenian troops from its territory on its own. According to some experts, Armenian claims about the Turkish involvement in clashes have three reasons. First, this creates Russian-Turkish escalation in the region. The second reason is to get support from the West. Thirdly, it allows the Pashinyan government to convince the Armenian people that they are fighting against both Azerbaijan and Turkey. 

There have also been some allegations about Syrian fighters. However, all the video and photo evidences shown were scenes of conflict shot in Syria, not in Nagorno-Karabakh. President of Turkey Rajab Tayyib Erdogan has also debunked this claim, stating that Syrians have more work to do in Syria. Azerbaijan has enough manpower and has no reason to bring in foreign fighters, and additionally, Azerbaijan is a secular state. Past actions of Azerbaijan, like imprisoning some of its citizens and even stripping others of their citizenship for going to Syria to fight also make the allegations seem illogical. 

Iran, one of the other states of the region, also argues that the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh should be resolved within the framework of the UN Security Council resolutions and within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. 

The resumption of this war is the result of lack of advancement in the peace negotiations process that have been going on for 26 years within the framework of the Minsk Group. Azerbaijan, along with implementing the four UN Security Council resolutions that were adopted in 1993, is also useing its legitimate right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The conflict will come to an end when Armenia withdraws its troops from the Azerbaijani territories. Otherwise, ceasefires will be temporary and occupation will be permanent.

The author is working for the Center of Analysis of International Relations, Baku.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called on developing the Social Code of the President Republic of Kazakhstan and digitalize social payments. (Photo: KAZINFORM)

Kazakhstan / State-of-the-nation address

President of Kazakhstan highlights 7 key principles of the new economic course

On September 1, 2020, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address highlighting seven key principles of the new economic course Kazakhstan is set to embark in the nearest future.
5. September 2020 19:37

Seven key principles of Kazakhstan’s new economic course are as follows: equitable distribution of wealth and responsibilities, leading role of private entrepreneurship through support and development of SMEs, effectiveness through fair competition, versatility of economy, development of human capital through investment into the education of new format, ‘greening’ of economy through protection of environment, and validity of government’s decisions.

Digitalization of social payments

In his 2020 state-of-the-nation address, the Head of State also urged to reduce the state apparatus and personnel of the quasi-public sector by 25% in the coming years. A brand-new program solely dedicated to the development of the domestic agro-industrial sector is set to be mapped out, according to the President. Moreover, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called on developing the Social Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan and digitalize social payments. 

In his address, the President also focused on the problems of education in Kazakhstan pointing out the need to introduce the concept of lifelong learning. Given that the people of Kazakhstan live in the epoch of natural and manmade disasters, Kazakhstan will re-establish the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Head of State noted. Kazakhstan, in his words, will also launch the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms that will report directly to the President.

Tokayev reminded that the country had an analogue of the agency in the past and it had proved its effectiveness. Among other things, the Head of State also instructed to develop a package of proposals on ‘green growth’ that will embrace ecological upbringing for Kazakhstani youngsters as well as development of domestic ecological tourist.

Concern over the demographic situation in Kazakhstan

In his address, President Tokayev expressed concern over the demographic situation nationwide, claiming every sixth family in the country can’t have children. In this vein, the Head of State urged to increase the number of quotas under the extracorporal fertilization program sevenfold, that is up to 7,000 quotas.

A new law on the protection of animals will see the light in Kazakhstan soon based on the instruction given by President Tokayev in his address. Tokayev charged the Government together with the civil sector to map out the bill on protection of animals. President Tokayev also suggested abolishing the institute of executive secretaries and carry on the reform of the quasi-public sector. 

Finally, the Head of State gave an instruction to earmark 150 billion tenge (110 billion forints) that will be paid to healthcare workers in the second half of 2020 in order to support them amid the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Free press! Demonstrators in front of prime minister Orbáns residence. Photo: MTI / Zsolt Szigetváry

Dismissal of editor-in-chief leads to staff quitting en masse

Index affair triggers demonstration in Budapest

A demonstration was held in Budapest on Friday evening in protest against the dismissal of the editor-in-chief of news website index.hu, for media freedom.

The protest started at the editorial office in north Buda, then the demonstrators marched to Buda Castle.

László Bodolai, chief of the foundation that exercises the employer’s rights at Index, initiated the dismissal of Szabolcs Dull on Wednesday.

On Friday, the portal announced in a “service statement” that all editors and almost all staff members had decided to quit.

“The journalists of Index have demonstrated that it makes sense having a moral backbone in this country,” András Fekete-Győr, leader of the opposition Momentum party, told the crowd, which filled Szent György Square next to the prime minister’s and the presidential office.

They had to stand up because “100 metres from here there is a cowardly little man who does not dare to face a mirror”, he said, adding that “we are fed up with cowardly politicians and their propagandists.”

“I would like to build a Hungary of brave people, . a country with a free press, an unbiased public media, an independent Academy of Sciences, a country with a Central European University and Index,” Fekete-Győr said.

Independent lawmaker Akos Hadhazy said that “this demonstration should not be the last, the protests should continue”.

He insisted that the senior officials of the public media should be appointed on the basis of consensus.

“There is no regime against which you can’t fight successfully but the stricter the dictatorial rule, the stronger resistance one should put up against it,” he said.

The demonstration was initiated by Momentum and attended by politicians of several left-wing parties.