Illustration - Photo: MTI

Hungary, Armenia to open embassies in each other’s capitals

Hungary and Armenia have agreed to open embassies in each other's capitals, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday, calling the move another important step in the two countries' improving bilateral relations since their restoration of diplomatic ties a year and a half ago.

Hungary and Armenia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations in December 2022, and have since been able to make “mutually beneficial progress” in several important practical areas, Szijjarto told a joint press conference with Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan, according to a ministry statement.

Szijjarto called Monday’s meeting “an important milestone”, noting it had been fifteen years since the last official visit of this kind.

It was in this spirit, he said, that they had signed an economic and foreign affairs cooperation agreement. Under the agreement, Hungary and Armenia will set up an inter-governmental economic mixed committee with a view to further bolstering relations, he added.

As regards the agreement to open embassies in each other’s capitals, Szijjarto said Hungary and Armenia had originally discussed opening consular missions, but they now believed that the results of bilateral cooperation over the last year and a half warranted the highest-level diplomatic relations.

Concerning economic cooperation, Szijjarto welcomed that bilateral trade turnover had reached a new record last year. Trade turnover has grown by around 70 percent over the last ten years, he said, adding that Hungarian pharmaceutical companies were increasingly active on the Armenian market.

He also announced that Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air will launch a direct Budapest-Yerevan flight in July.

Szijjarto said Hungarian-Armenian relations had strong Christian foundations, and the Hungarian government has contributed 180 million forints (EUR 461,000) to the repatriation of 1,500 Armenian families.

“And now we have decided to contribute another 300 million forints in cooperation with the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, Caritas Hungary and the Armenian Red Cross Society towards improving the situation of the Armenian families who are returning home,” Szijjarto said.

An agreement was also reached on Hungary hosting summer camps for 1,200 Armenian children and offering scholarships to 30 Armenian university students.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said 4,200 people identified as Armenian in Hungary’s last census, adding that the current government has so far provided 2 billion forints in support to help the Armenian community preserve its identity.

He said the government intended to work on developing relations with Armenia during Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency in the second half of the year. The Hungarian presidency will see the preparations of the timetable for a partnership agreement with Armenia and the start of visa liberalisation talks, he added.

Noting the ongoing armed conflicts in the world including the Caucasus, Szijjarto said Hungary welcomed that both Armenian and Azeri political leaders had recently taken responsible steps in the interest of ensuring a lasting peace for the people living in the region.

“Hungary would like to contribute to the success of the peace-making process in this case and in this region, too,” he added.

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