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New diplomats to strengthen Hungarian and Dutch business ties

The Netherlands Hungarian Chamber of Commerce together with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Budapest organized a 'Meet & Greet' event for their members with two special guests: H.E. Ms Orsolya Szijjártó, the new Ambassador of Hungary in the Netherlands and Mr Elzo Molenberg the new Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Economics Section of the Netherlands Embassy. The event was hosted by H.E. Gajus Scheltema, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands at his spectacular Residency.

This was one of the first public appearances of Ms Szijjártó as Ambassador of Hungary. During her introductory speech she gave insight into the new diplomacy strategy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She emphasized that building business with a pragmatic approach has become first priority of Hungarian foreign diplomacy.  Another important, more emphasized pillar of diplomacy is Cultural diplomacy, represented by a new state secretariat within the ministry.

In the field of business-trade diplomacy the new Ambassador will have the task to care about Dutch investors in Hungary and enhance exports of Hungarian businesses, especially SME-s.

Besides these traditional business tasks, there is a new goal too:  to help Hungarian entities to get in touch with Dutch RD institutions, and companies, in order to apply together for EU subsidies in Brussels. She believes working together on common projects will lead to important exchanges of know-how and long term cooperations of Dutch and Hungarian.

Ms Szijjártó is an economist by profession, she started her career in the public sector, working at the Foreign Office of the National Assembly, later at the Deputy State Secretary for Tourism. Since 2001 she has been working in the consultancy sector: first as the director of international relations, then as the managing director of a consulting company. She also worked as the project director of the Valencian Regional Government’s Brussels Office initiating a high number of European projects for the region. She is fluent in German, English and Spanish.

Concerning Mr Elzo Molenberg, it was a re-introduction of him to the Dutch business community, since Mr Molenberg used to head the economic section of the Embassy between July 2007-July 2011. Mr Molenberg invited the representatives of Dutch business to exchange view concerning the way the Embassy can assist and support the Dutch business community in their existence on the Hungarian market. Mr Molenberg mentioned economic activities under way, like the Logistics Seminar on 16 October, which will be organised by DUTCHAM and MLE, sponsored by the Embassy, and like the Hungarian-Dutch Waterforum, which will take place on 17-18 November, being jointly organised by the Hungarian Water Board OVF and the Embassy. Last but not least, Mr. Molenberg told the audience that the Embassy is currently planning its activities for 2015-2016, with already a focus on the Dutch EU-presidency of the EU in the first half of 2016, which should offer an excellent opportunity to the Embassy and the Dutch business community to put Dutch business and culture in the Hungarian spotlights again, like nowadays during the "DACS" Dutch Cultural festival in Hungary.

The economic relationships between the Netherlands and Hungary have played a central role in the career of Mr Elzo Molenberg. As an employee of the European Commission, he was project manager of various EU Phare economic aid projects in Hungary (1990-1995) including projects to support medium-sized and small Hungarian companies (sme) and to support the set up and strategy of the Hungarian Investment & Trade Development Agency. As manager of the Rivierenland Chamber of Commerce (Tiel), he set up the Hungarian desk in 1996 to assist Dutch SME’s to enter the Hungarian market. He has been in service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2001 and between July 2007 and August 2011 he held the position of head of the Economic Affairs Department at the Dutch Embassy in Budapest. (source: HBN)

Both diplomats offered their assistance to the business community when it comes to negotiating with trade partners, bidding for EU funds or any other business relation.