Péter Szijjártó in Central Asia

Péter Szijjártó completed a tour of three countries in Central Asia where he conducted important negotiations with his Kazakh, Uzbek and Kyrgyz partners. In Kazakistan the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade was received by President Kassym–Jomart Tokayev, and in Kyrgyzstan by President Sadyr Japarov.

The Head of Hungarian diplomacy first met his Kazakh counterpart, Mukhtar Tleuberdi with whom he discussed the issues of energy security and energy supply. Péter Szijjártó underlined that Hungary supported the diversification of the supply of energy to Europe. Hungary has done quite a lot in order to achieve this: for instance, it has significantly increased its import of crude oil from Kazakistan, and today it is 16 per cent of its total consumption that comes from this source. However, – as the Minister pointed out – it is possible to transport this volume to Hungary only through Russia, and the eventual sanctions would make that also impossible.

Péter Szijjártó also mentioned that the Hungarian Oil and Gas Joint Stock Company (MOL) is the technical manager of a Kazakh–Chinese–Hungarian consortium which deals with the exploitation of a large field of natural gas in Kazakistan. Provided the approval of the Government of Kazakistan is granted, the production will be launched next year. Besides this, one of the subsidiaries of the Hungarian Electric Company (MVM) has been given the opportunity to deliver the cooling system to two power stations in Kazakistan. Péter Szijjártó expressed his appreciation to Kazakistan for assuming a significant role in the fight against terrorism, in stabilizing the region neighboring Afghanistan, and in preventing the spread of extremist ideologies, as well as action against processes in migration and smuggling.

During the second leg of his tour, in Kyrgyzstan, Péter Szijjártó held talks with his counterpart, Zheenbekh Kulubayev. In his statement to the press after the talks, the Head of Hungarian diplomacy stressed that Central Asia is one of the most dynamically developing regions in the world, and because of this, it will continue to play an important role in the foreign trade objectives of Hungary. The Minister also announced that a few days before the Hungarian–Kyrgyz Development Fund started its operation to which the Government of Hungary has provided HUF5billion in order to support the investments of Hungarian companies in Kyrgyzstan. As a result of that, the preparation of the first projects has already been launched. Talks are being conducted on building hydroelectric stations, on transporting live animals, on the export of ATMs, as well as on building complete systems of irrigation and canals. Péter Szijjártó added that the necessary foundations to achieve all this are given, since last year the volume of bilateral trade increased by 47 per cent and reached USD12 million.

After this the Minister touched on the issue of the war in Ukraine. As he put it, every single minute of the war means a security risk for Hungary but its negative impact can be traced even in the relations between Hungary and Kyrgyzstan. Due to the crisis, direct flights between Budapest and Bishkek cannot be established yet. “Hungary wants peace in Ukraine as soon as possible, this is what we are all interested in” – as he put it.

Finally, the Minister called it essential that no new security threats should emerge in the region of Central Asia, that Afghanistan should not again become the launching pad of further waves of immigration, that the fight against terrorism should become successful, and that we managed to avert the spread of extremist ideologies. In connection with this, he urged the European Union to support even more the staunch work of Kyrgyzstan that is manifested in this field and to sign the new cooperation agreement as soon as possible. He underlined that the EU should double the funding for the protection of the borders of the countries in Central Asia.

Zheenbekh Kulubayev pointed out that this year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations between the two countries. Since 1992 Kyrgyzstan has achieved a lot but the Foreign Minister also believed that it would be important to further strengthen the cooperation in several fields.

During the second session of the Hungarian – Kyrgyz Strategic Council, the Sides signed a cooperation agreement in the field of culture and also reached agreement on the Action Plan of bilateral cooperation between 2022–2025.

During the day, the President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Japarov awarded Péter Szijjártó with the Order of Friendship for his work in order to develop the relations between the two countries.

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