RIYADH: Hungary can play a key role in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 development strategy because its direction plays to Hungary’s strengths, the country’s foreign minister told Arab News on Wednesday.
Péter Szijjártó was speaking after what he described as fruitful meetings with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
“We understand that in the framework of Vision 2030, huge investments and infrastructural developments will be implemented in areas where the Hungarian economy and Hungarian companies are really strong,” Szijjártósaid.
These include water management, agriculture, food processing, electronics and housing, he said. “We will help our Hungarian companies to be able to appear in your market and get some market share.”
Szijjártó said projects would be partially funded through a $700 million credit line established at Hungary Exim, the state-owned export credit agency, which will exclusively serve business-to-business cooperationbetween the two countries.
We understand that in the framework of Vision 2030, huge investments and infrastructural developments will be implemented in areas where the Hungarian economy and Hungarian companies are really strong.
After his ministerial meetings in Riyadh, Szijjártó said they would hold the next session of the Joint Economic Commission, with high-ranking partners, in Budapest in December.
“We agreed to revitalize the Hungarian/Saudi Business Council and we agreed that we finalized the text of the agreement on mutually productive investments very soon, in December.”
This package would provide “the financial, the political and the legal reassurance for Hungarian companies to invest and participate here in Saudi Arabia, in the market generally, and in the framework of Vision 2030,” he said.
Szijjártó said Saudi Arabia and Hungary were “on the same page when it comes to major dilemmas and global political issues, when it comes to the issue of the fight against terror, when it comes to the issue of the fight against interfering in the domestic issues of other countries, when it comes to cooperation based on mutual respect instead of lecturing each other.
“We are on the same page when it comes to our position against illegal migration, and we are on the same page when it comes to the fight against extremism of any origin.”
It was clear that Saudi Arabia was on a path of change, Szijjártó said. “You have started to implement a very successful economic policy which diversifies your national economy, and which diversifies the country itself.
“These infrastructural developments are of crucial importance … these investments ensure jobs for the people, they ensure revenues for companies, and ensure the long-term sustainable development of the country.
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“It’s also obvious that you are playing a more important role in the international community. It’s easy to recognize that here in the Middle East, you are playing a stabilizing role. You became an even more self-confident nation than before.
“And we support this role of yours because we understand that stabilizing forces are really necessary in this part of the world. And what happens here in the Middle East immediately has a direct, tangible impact on central Europe. So, the more stable and secure the situation here, the better for central Europe.”
Szijjártó said Hungary’s economy was changing too. With a population of only 10 million, it needed to extend its reach, he said. “A strategy only for the internal market doesn’t really make sense.”
More Hungarian companies had become strong enough to be competitive in world markets, to be able to invest in in other countries and to localize some of their activities abroad, he said. “This is now a very important new dimension of our national economy.”
Saudi Arabia was a welcoming environment in which opportunities for Hungarian companies could be found, the minister said. “That’s why we will help our companies to come to the Saudi market, localize part of their production, increase market share, and invest.
“We need partners with whom we can cooperate easily on a fair basis, based on mutual respect,” he said. “We understand we are coming from two totally different historic and cultural backgrounds, which we respect a lot. Based on that mutual respect, we can work together successfully.”