South Korean President Moon Jae-in (l) and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: MTI

Orbán highlights potential in V4-South Korea cooperation

South Korean president advocates closer ties with Visegrad Group

Cooperation between the Visegrad Group and the Republic of Korea is gaining in intensity, and the political leaders of the five countries are committed to developing even closer ties, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in Budapest on Thursday.

With their open approach, the leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have demonstrated the strength of V4 cooperation, the president told a press conference after their summit meeting in the Hungarian capital.

Moon Jae-in highlighted plenty of similarities between the Visegrad region and South Korea, including rapid transition to democracy and dynamic economic development after the Cold War.

He praised smooth V4-Korea relations, adding that the region is an important trading partner for South Korea and a major destination for Korean investors.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stressed the need of close cooperation, especially in the field of innovative technologies. He said the summiteers had also discussed the climate crisis and soaring energy prices.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis called South Korea a major trading partner for the Visegrad group. He said that developing ties with South Korea may help Europe to become more competitive in the global economy.

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said that partnership, cooperation and friendship between nations are especially important now that the world is facing major health, economic and energy challenges. South Korea and the V4 countries share plenty of values, including democracy, a free market and the rule of law, he said.

Orbán highlights potential in V4-South Korea cooperation

Trade turnover between the Visegrad Group (V4) countries and South Korea grew by 40 percent over the past five years, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Thursday, expressing hope that their cooperation could soon expand to the areas of science and technology as well. Addressing a joint press conference of the V4 leaders and Moon Jae-in after their summit in Budapest, Orbán said the central European economies had “strong years behind them” and good prospects, while South Korea was “a world champion” in economic growth and technological development.

The prime minister referred to the summit as “a meeting of five success stories”.

Trade turnover between the V4 and South Korea even increased “in the black year for the global economy that was 2020”, reaching 20 billion US dollars for the first time, Orbán said.

South Korea has a GDP of 1,600 billion dollars, while the V4 have a combined GDP of 1,100 billion dollars, Orbán noted. “If we were one country, then the V4, like Korea, could be a member of the G20,” he said.

Orbán said the reason behind the timing of Thursday’s summit was that all five countries believed that a new global economic order was taking shape and there was fierce competition for production capacities given that after the pandemic, factories were not being reopened in the same countries where they had closed.

Most of those capacities are being taken elsewhere, “and we, the V4 have entered this competition and want to attract as big a share as possible of global investments”, Orbán said. South Korea is known for being a leader in innovation and the V4 want to take advantage of the emerging new era of the global economy, he added.

Orbán said the V4 leaders had asked Moon to keep an eye on Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia’s biggest joint project that was the construction of the high-speed rail line connecting their capitals. The 800 km line will cut travel time between Budapest and Warsaw from 12 hours to five, he said, and expressed hope that the project would attract the interest of South Korea’s industrial sector.

He said the V4 were hopeful that their cooperation with South Korea could expand beyond the economy to the areas of science and technology as well.

Orbán said it was “an honour” for the V4 that the South Korean president had joined their summit. “This is especially so for Hungarians because we see our peoples as being related,” he said. He noted that Hungary first established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Korea in 1892. Another unique aspect of the talks, Orbán said, was that they had welcomed a president who himself had fought for freedom and democracy.

Thursday’s talks also touched on global issues like climate policy and the situation in Afghanistan, Orbán said.


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