Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Georgian-Hungarian diplomatic relations. This is an opportunity to tell you that there are very few countries in the world with which the Hungarians have always maintained good relations and continue to do so; and we will strive to do so in the future. Therefore the relationship established with you, Prime Minister, has a special value. We have never tried to hide the fact that the Hungarians are a people that travelled from East to West, and we have always been proud of the research and scholarship which Hungarians carried out here, in the Caucasus region, searching for the roots of the Hungarian people, and which have yielded some fine academic and artistic achievements. In this area we also have a small share in your country’s cultural achievements. We have knowledge of this country, and we feel that we are related. As we see it, both peoples are proud nations which insist upon their independence, are free-spirited, and boast high cultural traditions. I am convinced that this creates a good basis for friendship. We Hungarians know only too well that independence is a difficult thing. I could recite a long list of empires which, at various times in history, deprived Hungary of its independence, but which now are nowhere to be found. And yet we are still here. So we appreciate the struggles you are going through for your independence and the preservation of your language and culture. And the success with which you have accomplished this over thousands of years elicits huge respect from us Hungarians.
If we compare this with the figures for our economic cooperation, our enthusiasm is suddenly dampened; because it is quite unparalleled for two nations which foster such positive political relations to have bilateral trade and investment levels as low as ours are. We have no reason for pride in this department. In addition to expressing the respect of the Hungarian people, the purpose of our visit today has been to boost our economic and trade relations, to exploit the potential that exists in Georgian-Hungarian relations, and to turn that potential into reality. We live in a world in which we must fight for every last economic opportunity, and in which it is not easy to create good political relations to serve as the foundations for business cooperation. The fact that we Georgians and Hungarians have failed to use our good political relations to our commercial advantage is profligacy. This is why we came here, and this is what we would like to change. We would like to take part in the modernisation of your economy. We would like to invest, and we would like to trade with you on a much larger scale. We are happy that this intention is mutual, and that the Prime Minister received this Hungarian intention with friendship and support.
Beyond political relations, we have also set up a financial framework. The Hungarian Eximbank has opened a credit line of USD 90 million, with a view to financing Georgian-Hungarian trade and investment relations. I informed the Prime Minister that, when this allocation is spent in full, we will be able to increase the available funding – and even multiply it. The composition of the business delegation that has accompanied me clearly demonstrates our primary fields of interest: water management and operation of urban water management systems; sewage treatment; the pharmaceutical industry; agriculture; the food industry; and the construction industry. We look forward to receiving students from your country at Hungarian universities. Our own fate has led us to conclude that learning, a free spirit and sharp wits are all sources of competitiveness. Large countries may lay the foundations for their future on other things, but countries of our size can mainly rely on learning, a free spirit and sharp wits, and therefore it is important that our students attend each other’s universities. I have also made a proposal in the field of agriculture, for which we have practically-oriented secondary education in the English language. And as you wish to modernise your agriculture, we are happy to receive secondary school students who, in programmes conducted in the English language, can acquire specific Hungarian technological know-how, training and practical experience. So we are happy to welcome an unrestricted number of secondary school students from Georgia who are interested in agriculture.
I would add that our intentions on cooperation with the Chinese also coincide. Both our countries see the “One Belt, One Road” project as important, and today I invited your government to attend the Central Europe-China summit in Budapest in September as an observer. The Prime Minister has accepted this invitation, and so your government will be in Budapest this September. I wish to thank the Prime Minister for mentioning that Hungary has from the outset spoken up for the EU granting Georgia visa-free travel. Hungary has always supported the soonest possible establishment of closer cooperation between your country and the European Union. Today the EU is not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of enlargement, and therefore it is important that the countries which joined the EU at a later stage maintain a level of openness and support for countries which seek to move closer and gain admission to the European Union. Visa-free travel is a key issue. I am convinced that the young people of Georgia will also be grateful for the opportunity to acquaint themselves with this new dimension of freedom. We Hungarians were once in the same position. One of the European Union’s great achievements is that we are free to move in one of the world’s richest cultural territories.
Finally, I would like to say that we greatly appreciate Georgia’s steadfast foreign policy, and the consistence, determination and calm that you have demonstrated. I would also like to make it clear that we Hungarians firmly and consistently stand up for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognised borders. And we also support you in your efforts towards the successful negotiated resolution of frozen conflicts.
To sum up, I can tell you that we are proud to be able to count Georgia among Hungary’s friends.