Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President,
This has been our first official meeting since the latest elections in Russia, so I have expressed to the President of Russia the best wishes of both myself and Hungary: we wish him much success in continuing to lead his country on a path of ascent for the Russian people. In the past few years we have become reliable partners for each other, and I thank the President for having acknowledged this. I can tell you that every agreement that we have signed in the past few years has been carried out in full. In world politics today predictability is an especially valuable currency, and therefore we prize the relations which exist between Russia and us. While we belong to different military alliances, we both have an interest in maximising our successes. Hungary’s interest is clear. We have learnt a simple historical lesson over the past hundred years or so: when there have been tensions and conflicts between the eastern and western halves of Europe, the Hungarians have always been adversely affected; and when there has been cooperation, we have always benefited. So Hungary’s national interest is for cooperation between the two halves of Europe to be as good as possible – and, within this, for the Russian-Hungarian system of relations to also be as good as possible. The President has outlined the most important topics.
I would like to add that our cooperation rests on special foundations, because both countries form part of Christian culture, and both of us believe that in the modern world it is important to preserve and strengthen Christian culture. To this end we are also making joint efforts to help Christians persecuted around the world. A special cornerstone of our cooperation is culture. I can only speak on behalf of Hungary, but the Hungarian people have always greatly admired the cultural achievements of other peoples. We are also proud of our own, but we have always recognised and admired the cultural achievements of other nations; and Russia enjoys high prestige in Hungary. Therefore I wish to thank the President for strengthening cultural relations between the two countries. The other day the Bolshoi Theatre staged an operetta, which I believe is unprecedented over here. It was an operetta by a Hungarian composer: Imre Kálmán. This is a great honour for Hungary, which we also wish to thank you for.
As regards economic cooperation, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are making good progress in agriculture, the energy sector and the pharmaceutical industry. We would also like to open up a new area: we would like to create cooperation in oncology, and establish a joint research and education institute together with Russia. We have good prospects of doing so in the future. All I would like to say regarding the issue of energy is that, after an agreement on gas supplies for 2019, we also managed to come to an agreement on supplies for 2020. And – as the President himself says – we make no secret of the fact that Hungary will compete for the opportunity to be a transit country for the gas pipeline running from the South and from Turkey as it enters our region. This would present the Hungarian economy with a great opportunity, and here today I have also asked the President to seriously consider the possibility of this gas pipeline entering Hungary. The Paks project is making good progress, and we have been making the necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
I also believe that financial cooperation is important. The President spoke about OTP Bank. I would just like to add that here in Russia the Hungarian OTP Bank provides jobs for five thousand people, and now we will also take a new step, because I have asked the President that we expand financial cooperation. As the third largest shareholder of the International Investment Bank, Hungary stands ready to host this bank in Budapest, and for its headquarters to be relocated to Budapest. I ask the President that the bank’s management and its board consider the Hungarian proposal. Similarly, I wish to address the Hungarian people, and inform them that I have also asked the President for his consent in the following joint ventures: launching a direct air route between Budapest and Kazan; extending mutual recognition of degrees; and increasing the number of scholarships provided for our students. This means that we are not only laying the foundations for cooperation between the two countries in the present, but – by involving younger generations – we can also ensure the two countries’ long-term, friendly, fair and reliable cooperation. This is something needed by both Hungary and the whole of Europe.
Mr. President, thank you for giving us the opportunity to engage in talks with you.