Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Boosting central Asia in Europe’s interest

One of the most important tasks of the coming years will be building safe transit routes between Asia and Europe, and that is impossible without central Asia, the foreign minister said in Baku on Thursday.
23. November 2023 17:37

Speaking at the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), Peter Szijjarto said the economic and security challenges Europe was facing due to wars and falling competitiveness “should have steered [the bloc] back to reason and common sense”. Instead, debates had become more politicised and ideological, threatening with steering European politics towards creating blocks in the world, he said.

He lamented that “risk avoidance” was gaining momentum in Europe, saying it aimed to decouple European and Chinese economies. Hungary’s government sees the cooperation between East and West as a great opportunity rather than danger, he added.

Severing ties with Russia had contributed to “the collapse of the growth model followed so far” in Europe. Similar actions with China would be equivalent to a “gut-punch” for the European economy, he said.

Central Europe believes in “civilised cooperation between East and West”, and central Asia can be an important bridge in that, he said. Hungary supports all moves boosting the region and cooperation there, he added.

Hungary emerged strengthened from the crises of the past years because its government had focused on creating jobs and supporting investments, and because it had become a meeting point of eastern and western investments, Szijjarto said.

China is Hungary’s primary source of imports, and its primary investment target in central Europe. Meanwhile, Europe’s car industries have become dependent on Chinese suppliers. China also overtook Europe as the second largest contributor to world GDP, he added.

“In view of that, what makes more sense: isolating ourselves from such a quickly growing economy or connecting with it?”

Hungary is ready to contribute to developing central Asian infrastructure, digitalisation and water management, he said.

Meanwhile, the region could become a “gold mine” regarding energy security, he said. Hungary is importing 10 percent of its crude oil demands from Kazakhstan, natural gas deliveries may also start shortly, and “there is great potential in green energy too,” he added.

“Strengthening central Europe and the cooperation between central Asian states is therefore a real European interest,” he said.

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