Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: MTI

Hungary, Sri Lanka foreign ministers pledge to strengthen cooperation

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Wednesday met his Sri Lankan counerpart, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, and pledged to strengthen the ties between the two countries.

Earlier on Wednesday, Szijjarto announced the largest Hungarian road construction project which is getting under way in South Asia.

Betonutepito is building two large motorway overpasses near Sri Lanka’s capital as part of a 20 billion forint (EUR 56m) development, the ministry said in a statement.

Szijjarto noted that the government supports Hungarian companies entering international markets. Hungary’s Eximbank is backing the investment which is expected to conclude by October 2023. Metal structures for the construction are being made in Nyiregyhaza, while their delivery will take place in March.

At the joint press conference with Peiris, Szijjarto said cutting-edge technologies implemented by numerous Hungarian companies gave them a competitive edge internationally, opening up investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

Besides infrastructure development, Hungarian printing and water management companies are also present in the country, he said. A recently reconstructed water purifying plant has given 2 million people access to clean drinknig water, he said.

While many development projects worldwide have fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian government is supporting Hungarian companies present on foreign markets to prevent further losses, he said.

The ministers have agreed to convene the second meeting of its economic committee as soon as possible and to speed up talks on the elimination of double taxation to ensure “fair and honest cooperation”, Szijjarto said.

Starting this year, Hungary is also offering 20 scholarships to Sri Lankan students wishing to study in Hungary, he said.

“We have always been fair, honest and reliable partners. We have not interfered in each other’s internal affairs, we’ve never criticised each other, and we’ve supported each other in international organisations; and we wish to carry on that way in the future,” Szijjarto said.

Peiris praised Hungarian economic development and said his country was on track to implement similar projects, which made robust cooperation and knowledge exchange very important.

During the visit, Szijjarto also met Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as the ministers of commerce, education and highways.

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