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New emphasis on regionalisation of Hungarian-Russian cooperation

Monday, March 21, 2016


“New emphasis is being placed on the regionalisation of Hungarian-Russian economic cooperation in the interests of decreasing the damage caused by EU and Russian measures”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Monday in Budapest.

Mr. Szijjártó and Governor of Saint Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko concluded a cooperation agreement between the Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the second largest city in Russia.

At a press conference following the signing of the agreement, Mr. Szijjártó stressed: The new agreement we have just signed with St. Petersburg fits into the process of expanding cooperation with regions. The volume of trade flow with the region was 120 million US Dollars in 2015, which is a major decrease compared to previous figures and this is the tendency we want to bring to a halt, he declared.

St. Petersburg is one of Russia’s most important industrial centres; the city and its vicinity is the sixth strongest region in the country. Six important Hungarian companies operate offices there, including OTP and Richter, meaning the Hungarian economy has a significant presence in the city, he pointed out, adding that Saint Petersburg plays an important role in Hungarian-Russian economic and trade relations.

The Foreign Minister also told the press that that European-Russian, and within that Hungarian-Russian trade flow has decreased significantly as a result of EU sanctions against Russia and Russian embargo measures. Hungarian enterprises have lost 4.5 billion US Dollars in export opportunities during the past two years, which has led to serious problems at several companies. While Russia used to be Hungary’s second largest trade partner, it has now slipped back to 15th place”, he added.

We are striving to strengthen relations with Russian regions in an attempt to reduce the damage, Mr. Szijjártó told reporters. The agreement we have just signed with St. Petersburg provides the framework for the further development of cooperation, he added. According to the Foreign Minister, relations with the region could be especially tightened within the fields of the automotive industry, water management, agricultural and food industry processing technologies, city management technologies and tourism. Negotiations are also underway on launching a direct air route between Budapest and St. Petersburg, he noted.

The Minister also stated that St. Petersburg University has already been offering Russian students the chance to study Hungarian, and since it is important that this opportunity should continue to be available the Hungarian Government is providing 40 thousand euros in funding for this purpose.

Governor Poltavchenko stressed that cooperation between Hungary and Saint Petersburg must be improved and both parties have the political will to achieve this. Mr. Poltavchenko confirmed the importance of developing relations with Russian regions and said he thought excellent cooperation could be developed with Hungary in several areas. A working group will now be set up to put the newly concluded agreement into practice, he added.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)

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