Hungary evermore Eastward-looking


Another week, another seven days of Hungary’s government advancing its goal of increased closeness to Eastern countries for its economic future, it seems.

Again visiting Hungary from Vietnam this week was that country’s deputy prime minister, Nguyen Thien Nhan. Early stops for Nguyen have included a meeting with National Development Minister Zsuzsa Németh and a visit to the Paks nuclear power plant. The latter represented a fact-finding mission to advance Vietnam’s plans to install its own nuclear plant in 2020, which would be the first for that country. In conjunction with the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME), the Paks plant has trained some 116 Vietnamese students thus far and a further 40 will be taking a course there beginning in September.

Accompanying Nguyen to Paks was Energy Affairs Minister Pál Kovács, who spoke on the importance of educational exchange between the two nations; in late July, Higher Education State Secretary István Klinghammer had announced a new scholarship program for 40 Vietnamese students in Budapest to begin in academic year 2014-15, “primarily in the technical and agricultural fields.” At that time, Klinghammer stated that some 234 Vietnamese students are currently attending higher ed schools in Hungary.

Meanwhile, the government is touting its cooperation agreements with Japan vis-à-vis another sort of energy solution, i.e. “clean” coal/lignite operations. Energy Affairs Minister Pál Kovács reported to media the advancement of cooperation between his ministry, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics of Japan (IEEJ) on environmentally-friendly coal/lignite-based energy systems.

A delegation from Japan had visited Kovács in late July for discussions on establishing a multiple-function plant in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County within the next few years, and the IEEJ is currently preparing a pre-feasibility study on the project, with various consultation meetings scheduled through March 2014. The Japanese delegation had also met with representatives of the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary, the University of Miskolc and the Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County government.

Finally, yesterday’s big overall jump on the Budapest Stock Exchange was attributed in great part to impressive export numbers from China to Brazil and European Union nations, among others, as global markets enjoyed the benefits of the big country’s foreign trade.

Hungary did its part in firming up cultural relations with the Asian market leader, as 50 students from China’s Sichuan province concluded a two-week study exchange hosted by the University of Szeged’s Confucius Institute this week after visits to Budapest and Lake Balaton. The students were from the Ya’an region of China, an area which suffered a massive earthquake in April, and had received an invitation from Parliament Vice-Chairman/Confucius Institute Chairman István Ujhelyi while in China with a Hungarian student group around the time of the natural disaster.

In a report on the visit given back home, China Foundation for Peace and Development Deputy Secretary-General Ji Ping stated that “The trip helped promote Sino-Hungarian friendship,” which “gave us a chance to feel the exotic scenery in Hungary and the friendly, hospitable character of Hungarian people ... Through this special experience, I realized the value of international cultural exchanges. I’m determined to become a diplomat.”

And if Ji succeeds in his personal goal, he’ll surely have support in Hungary...

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