Hungary Aims to Boost Cooperation With Iran, Foreign Minister Szijjártó Declares in Tehran

  • 23 Feb 2024 6:58 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Hungary Aims to Boost Cooperation With Iran, Foreign Minister Szijjártó Declares in Tehran
Hungary and Iran both have an interest in developing economic cooperation in sectors not subject to sanctions, such as the pharmaceutical industry, the health and food industries and water management, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Tehran.

The broad international sanctions imposed on Iran do not make economic and trade cooperation easy, Szijjártó told a Hungarian-Iranian business forum.

“What we think about sanctions in general is irrelevant right now, and is a topic for another speech, but the point is that building economic cooperation isn’t easy,” Szijjártó said.

“But ‘not easy’ doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.” The minister said there were a number of areas that are not subject to sanctions, such as the pharmaceutical industry, the health and food industries and water management. He added that it was a “happy coincidence” that these are among the most-developed sectors of the Hungarian economy and global technological leaders.

Szijjártó said Hungary is the world’s 20th most significant pharma exporter, and that Iran has been using Hungarian-made X-ray machines for over 15 years.

The minister noted that he was accompanied on his visit by representatives of the most high-tech Hungarian agricultural firms which were technological leaders in seed production, animal and plant health as well as premix production.

“We have the food industry companies here with us … representing sectors ranging from milk processing to energy drinks,” he said. He added that water management businesses exporting modern technologies to Africa, Southeast Asia and the Western Balkans were also present.

Szijjártó asked the company executives to take advantage of the opportunity to boost cooperation between Hungary and Iran in the areas not affected by sanctions.

Meanwhile, the minister touched on recent crises such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the Middle East conflict, emphasising that the world had entered “an era of dangers” and a new global economic order was emerging.

Hungary, given its geographical location and economic structure, has a vested interest in the global economy “operating under open, peaceful and fair conditions”.

Szijjártó said Hungary was concerned about a potential re-emergence of geopolitical blocs in the world, noting that the country had already lost out on such a divide in the past.

“That’s why we’d much rather like the coming period to be one of connectivity,” he said, adding that Hungary saw cooperation between East and West as an opportunity, rather than a threat or a risk.

Speaking after a meeting of the Hungarian-Iranian Joint Economic Committee later in the day, Szijjártó said a new bilateral agriculture cooperation agreement would present new trade opportunities in agriculture and the food industry.

Trade turnover between Hungary and Iran exceeded 50 million dollars in 2022 despite the serious security and economic challenges, and reached a similar level last year, too, Szijjártó told a press conference, according to a ministry statement.

At a joint press conference with Iran’s finance minister, Szijjártó welcomed that the investment protection agreement between the two countries has entered into effect, and said Hungary’s and Iran’s tax and customs authorities will work together to eliminate barriers to bilateral business cooperation.

He said an agriculture cooperation agreement signed by the two countries could present new trade opportunities in agriculture and the food industry and boost the presence of advanced Hungarian farming technologies and food products on the Iranian market.

Hungarian pharmaceutical and medical technology products, which have already enjoyed considerable recognition in Iran, are expected to expand their presence on the market in the future, the minister said.

As regards water management cooperation, Szijjártó said Hungary and Iran are in talks on the export of more Hungarian water management technologies to the Middle Eastern country.

Hungary and Iran will also uphold an agreement under which they issue 5,500 transport permits a year to each other’s companies, he said.

He noted that Hungary offers scholarships to 100 Iranian university students each year, adding that currently there are more than 2,000 Iranians studying in Hungary.

There are six Hungarian universities cooperating with nine Iranian institutions, he said, adding that the next rectors’ conference is set to be held soon.

Szijjártó: Iran Talks Contribute to Avoiding Escalation in Middle East

The top priority for the international community is to prevent an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, which requires “parties of diverging opinion talking to each other”, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said in Tehran at a joint press conference held with Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Szijjártó said representatives of European Union and NATO countries “do not turn up in Iran often”, adding that “diplomacy aims to bring parties together even if their views diverge”. “Bad-mouthing others doesn’t require all that much courage… The real achievement is if they talk to each other, especially under such difficult circumstances,” he said.

Szijjártó said an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East would pose a huge danger to global security. “If just one more country is involved in the conflict, it will not stop at the border of that country but will lead to at least a regional war, not to mention further consequences,” the minister said.

Hungary and Iran “may see several aspects of the serious security challenges facing the world differently”, he said. But his visit was aimed at “creating an opportunity to prevent an even more serious situation”, he added.

Hungary, he said, was “deeply concerned” about the situation in the Middle East and “would not want to see another attack like the terrorist acts in Israel on October 7 anywhere in the world or against anybody.”
Szijjártó said “Iran is clearly needed” in the international community’s efforts to avoid escalation.

Concerning the Iran nuclear deal, Szijjártó said Hungary had a vested interest in improving global security, adding that full implementation of the agreement could serve that end.

He voiced support for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts, adding that the IAEA had asked Hungary several times to train Iranian nuclear experts. The Hungarian government has met those requests and is ready to continue, he added.

Szijjártó said that “mutual respect between the two countries” had offered an opportunity to for the talks, “even if the Iranian government is aware that Hungary is Israel’s strategic partner”.

The minister noted that Hungary and Iran next year will celebrate the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. He also mentioned that Hungary currently offers 2,000 scholarships to Iranian students at Hungarian universities.

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