Orbán discusses pandemic protection, migration with head of Austria lower house

Hungary’s vaccine factory good for producing Chinese jabs

Hungary and China have agreed that the vaccine factory being built in Hungary will be set up to accommondate the manufacture of Chinese coronavirus vaccine, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in China on Monday.

The deal will offer Hungary a major strategic advantage, he added.

Szijjarto held bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for the 12th time in seven years, which he said reflected the two countries’ firm determination to develop unimpeded cooperation.

“Hungary and the People’s Republic of China have been strategic partners since 2017. If anyone had any doubts, the past few months have proven how much Hungary has profited from the strategic cooperation … Its success can now be measured in terms of the number of human lives saved,” he said.

“Vaccine is not an ideological or geopolitical issue, but a means to save lives. Had there been no human lives at stake, we would simply … laugh at those who had talked nonsense about the Chinese jab,” the minister said.

If Hungary’s government had not purchased vaccine from Sinopharm, “the number of vaccinated Hungarians would be one million lower, Hungary would not top the EU in terms of the inoculation rate, and it would not have made great strides towards normalcy,” he said.

Szijjarto called economic cooperation another success story, noting that two major Chinese banks will soon appear in Hungary, and several Hungarian firms have scored successes on the Chinese market.

Negotiations on major Chinese investments in electric car manufacturing and other projects in Hungary are under way, he said.

Szijjarto said Hungary supported initiatives aimed at improving ties between the European Union and China, adding that there was a need for cooperation based on reciprocal interests and mutual respect rather than “sanctions and hostilities”.

Szijjarto said thwarting the comprehensive investment agreement with China went against European interests. “Europe should recognise the latest global realities,” he said, adding that the cost of the EU’s failure to improve ties with China would be hefty.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said China had given the all-clear to establishing a Hungarian consulate-general in Guangzhou.

Wang Yi praised “exemplary” Hungarian-Chinese relations, expressing hope that they would deepen in several areas. “China and the EU are strategic partners and should continue to cooperate amidst the growing strategic challenges,” he added.

Orbán discusses pandemic protection, migration with head of Austria lower house

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Wolfgang Sobotka, the president of the Austrian parliament’s lower house, the National Council, the PM’s press chief said on Monday.

At the meeting in Budapest, Orbán and Sobotka discussed their countries’ successful coronavirus protection efforts and illegal migration, Bertalan Havasi said.

Orbán noted at the meeting that thanks to a successful vaccination campaign, Hungary is “leading the pack” in herd immunity and the pace of easing pandemic-related restrictions. Orbán welcomed that Austria is also returning to normality, and has recently allowed tourism into the country, Havasi said.

As a European “Covid passport” is not yet in sight, bilateral agreements between countries on accepting immunity certificates may be a solution, Havasi said. Hungary is ready to conclude such an agreement with Austria too, he added.

Orbán and Sobotka also touched on illegal migration, which they said has been picking up recently. Although the pandemic temporarily stemmed migration to the European Union, it may gather momentum soon, warranting the strengthening of external borders, they said.

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