Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

President Novak: Education can be cornerstone of Hungary-Papua New Guinea ties

Education may be the cornerstone of ties between Papua New Guinea and Hungary, President Katalin Novak said on Wednesday at the start of a state visit to Papua New Guinea, unveiling 50 higher education scholarships for local students wishing to study in Hungary.

She noted that hers was the first visit to Papua New Guinea by a Hungarian president and that diplomatic ties were established almost 40 years ago.

Novak said her visit also provided an opportunity to commemorate Maria Molnar, a “brave Hungarian Christian woman” who lived in Papua New Guinea around 100 years ago.

The president noted that in the second half of 2024, Hungary will hold the Council of the European Union (EU) rotating presidency, and this may further ties between Papua New Guinea, Hungary and the EU.

She also noted that Hungary was never a coloniser. “We learned that we must respect others and can always learn from others. We Hungarians are a respectful nation; relations between Papua New Guinea and Hungary must be based on mutual respect,” she said.

“Hungary has neither high mountains, access to the sea, nor natural resources, and we’re not especially rich . and our population is not growing but shrinking. Though the peoples, culture, history, and geographical situation of Papua New Guinea and Hungary are quite different, we have Christianity in common,” Novak said.

The president discussed strengthening economic ties and environmental protection with Soroi Eoe, who acts as the country’s Governor General, and she will meet the prime minister on Friday.

Zsolt Csenger-Zalan, Hungary’s ambassador to Canberra, told the public media that the value of Oceania was growing in today’s geopolitical circumstances, and he noted how the region’s raw materials were something that Hungarian businesses and investors could make good use of.

The scholarships offered by the president may lay the foundation for the presence of Hungarian companies in the region, he added.

President Novak was received with the highest military honours, followed by a dinner in the parliament given in her honour.

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