DUIHK 30th Anniversary Gala with President of Hungary and 400 Guests

In Budapest

DUIHK President András Sávos (right) chats with Hungary’s President Katalin Novák.

Photo by Pelsőczy / DUIHK

The German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DUIHK) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a gala evening on Friday at the Budapest Marriott Hotel. The 400 guests not only looked back on three decades of German-Hungarian economic relations but also enjoyed a party with dancing, bars and entertainment.

The high esteem for the work of the DUIHK over the past three decades was made clear by the guests in attendance: Hungary’s President Katalin Novák, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás, the Ambassadors of Hungary, Germany and Austria (Péter Györkös, Julia Gross and Alexander Grubmayr, respectively), the Vice President of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), Kirsten Schoder-Steinmüller, and the Head of Foreign Trade, Volker Treier.

President Novák emphasized in her speech that economic cooperation works when the “chemistry” is right, when good business figures are accompanied by emotional ties and when people understand, respect and accept each other.

Hungary welcomes all those looking for long-term investments in Hungary, the president said, because such companies seek to get to know the environment and Hungarians, build mutual trust, fit in, and, over time, help shape the local environment.

“In my opinion, this is how the relationship between two allied countries, between the economies of allied countries, is formed,” she said. “My thanks to you is that you believe in Hungarian-German friendship, that you believe in the ability of Hungarians and Germans to understand each other, and that you fight for it even in difficult times when more needs to be done for mutual understanding.”

DUIHK President András Sávos reminded the audience that intensive economic relations between the two countries existed long before the DUIHK was founded in 1993. The Budapest underground railway was planned and built by Siemens & Halse as early as 1896, a German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce was established in Budapest for the first time in 1920, and economic contacts with West Germany did not break off even during socialism.

After the change of system in 1989, all this made it possible for German companies to become intensively involved in Hungary at the beginning of the 1990s and to found the DUIHK in 1993.

Today, Germany is Hungary’s most important partner, both in trade and as an investor group. But bilateral relations are also enormously important the other way round, Sávos said. Regarding German foreign trade, Hungary ranks ahead of such large economies as Sweden, Japan, Canada, and South Korea.

Guests of honor at the DUIHK 30th Anniversary Gala.

Mutual Trust

Looking to the future, Sávos emphasized that mutual trust is fundamentally the basis of successful cooperation. The German and Hungarian members of the DUIHK are focused on a long-term partnership. Relations between the countries have always been characterized by shared values and interests, both on the governmental and the entrepreneurial side, he said.

In her welcome address, the German Ambassador Julia Gross called the DUIHK an “expert, advisor, trouble-shooter, motivational coach, mediator, coordinator and provider of ideas” for German companies and Hungarian partners. She thanked it for the consistently excellent cooperation with the embassy.

The ambassador also welcomed the fact that the Hungarian Government, despite all the differences of opinion at the moment, is open to dialogue with businesses and with the DUIHK and that she continues to see the presence of all sectors of the German economy as a valuable asset for Hungary.

Gross referred to the current upsets in German-Hungarian relations with a comparison to making a cake: In international relations, as in baking, it depends on the ingredients and their quantity, but also the right temperature. And if necessary, the recipe must be adjusted to ensure everyone is satisfied. According to the ambassador, the EU is characterized by balancing the interests of equal but very different partners.

“Together, we are undoubtedly stronger. The close integration of our economies is the best possible basis for this.”

Referring to the successes of the DUIHK over the past 30 years, the chamber’s managing director Barbara Zollmann also paid tribute to the achievements of former presidents, managing directors and staff on which it is building today.

Given the manifold transformations in the world and the global economy, the DUIHK also has a vital role to play in the future. A unique feature of the chamber is its bilateralism, which also gives Hungarian companies additional opportunities in the German market.

Esteem Expected

Zollmann expressed the expectation that member companies in Hungary would be held in the same esteem in all sectors. Even in challenging times, being speechless is not an option for the DUIHK: the priority is that the willingness to talk between the countries remains and promotes positive, value-creating cooperation.

DIHK Vice President Schoder-Steinmüller placed the DUIHK anniversary in the context of the German chamber network of regional IHKs, the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHK) and the joint umbrella organization, the DIHK. She made it clear, as had Ambassador Gross before her, that in the DIHK’s view, the unity of the EU is indispensable for Germany and Hungary if they want to position themselves well in competition with the large economic regions of the United States or China.

“The EU should counter the worrying trend towards protectionism by expanding the internal market as well as with further ambitious trade agreements in the world,” said Schoder-Steinmüller.

With the official part of the evening completed, the 400 guests could enjoy an entertaining party. Later, the Hungarian “mentalist” Danny Blue, who has an international reputation, amazed the audience and his “assistants,” drawn from the crowd, with tricks that were almost impossible to decipher.

In addition, guests could have memories of the evening created in virtual photo and video shoots, taste exclusive whiskies and rums in the Chill Out Room, and dance to live music with the Partyssimo Party Band and international hits with DJ Fery.

The DUIHK thanks its many sponsors of the anniversary gala and all their domestic and foreign guests for creating a memorable evening. Photos from it are available on the chamber website.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 16, 2023.

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