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Co-existence of civilisations is a major question for the future

In a statement to the press in the Presidential Palace after the meeting, the Prime Minister stressed that both Hungary and Egypt have a great deal to say about the coexistence of great civilisations with historic roots, and that this is another reason the cooperation of the two countries is so important. On his visit to Cairo Mr. Orbán was accompanied by several of his ministers and several members of the Hungarian business community.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

He told the press that he and the President of Egypt agree on the importance of the fight against terrorism and the stabilisation of Libya. Concerning Libya, he pointed out that in order to stabilise the country every effort must be made to ensure that there is a united government and a strong national army, and attempts must be made to secure its unity as a state. Hungary therefore agrees with Egypt that weapons, terrorists and funds supporting them must be prevented from entering Libya.

On economic matters, Mr. Orbán said that clearly “a new economic world order” is coming into being, in which both countries must take their places. In the interest of reinforcing Hungarian-Egyptian economic cooperation, the parties agreed on doubling the volume of trade between the two countries and increasing cooperation between businesses. They highlighted agriculture, water management and the vehicle industry as priority areas for cooperation, and in the latter they even agreed on the production of railway carriages, the Prime Minister said. He added that he had offered the President of Egypt the involvement of Hungarian nuclear energy experts in the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Hungary, the Prime Minister said, “has no imperial past”: in other words, it has no desire to seek advancement at others’ expense, but wishes to cooperate with players in the local economy. It is only interested in activities in Egypt which coincide with the best interests of the local people, he stressed. He added that at present one hundred Egyptian students are studying in Hungary with Hungarian state scholarships, and the Budapest government is prepared to increase this number.

Mr. Orbán expressed his admiration for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi due to his commitment to the task of creating stability in his country, which is of the utmost importance for the region and also for Europe. Congratulating the Egyptian leader on recent progress towards the stability of Egypt’s economic and political system, the Prime Minister said that “Europe has a vested interest in the success of the President of Egypt and, as a result, so does Hungary”. He described Hungarian-Egyptian relations as amicable, saying that it is an old and tested friendship.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Mr. Orbán also expressed the Hungarian nation’s condolences in relation to the tragic loss of the Egyptian passenger plane over the Mediterranean almost two weeks ago, and he expressed his heartfelt sympathy to relatives of the victims.

In his statement President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that it is his country’s goal to broaden cooperation with Hungary, and with this in view they had reviewed the opportunities for development of relations between the two countries. He said that illegal migration was also a topic in their meeting, and in this context he stressed the importance of attending to the causes of migration and of relevant international cooperation. The President said that the two leaders had also spoken about the situations in Syria and Libya, as well as about the fight against the efforts to combat extremism: the “number one danger” threatening the region’s population.

Before the statements to the press, representatives of the two countries signed several agreements in the presence of Prime Minister Orbán and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Together with the Egyptian minister responsible for international cooperation, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening Hungarian-Egyptian economic cooperation, while Minister of Defence István Simicskó and his Egyptian counterpart signed an interministerial memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation. The parties also entered into an intergovernmental treaty on cooperation in aviation, which was signed by Minister for National Development Miklós Seszták on behalf of Hungary.

A document was also signed by the Hungarian and Egyptian parties (Eximbank on behalf of Hungary), which contains a financing offer related to the production of 700 railway carriages for Egyptian state railways. Another agreement was signed between Hungarian public media and the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, ERTU. This was signed on behalf of the Hungarian party by Menyhért Dobos, Chief Executive of Duna Médiaszolgáltató Nonprofit Zrt.

After his meeting with the President, Mr. Orbán visited the headquarters of the Arab League, where he was received by Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the organisation. Following this the Prime Minister was scheduled to meet Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, and to deliver a speech at the Egyptian-Hungarian business forum in the evening.