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FM to open new diplomatic missions despite budget cuts

Despite a 6% reduction in its 2007 budget, Hungary's foreign ministry plans to open new diplomatic missions and set aside Ft 10 million (around €39,400) to rescue Hungarians from crisis areas, a ministry official told the daily Népszabadság on Friday.

Hungary is opening embassies in Minsk and Riga, and a consulate in Yekaterinburg to assist the Moscow embassy, and is moving the embassy in Kazakhstan from Almati to the new capital, Astana, foreign affairs undersecretary Márta Fekszi said. Fekszi also reported that coordination talks with the Austrian foreign ministry were underway to share premises in Astana and, for the time being, in Jakarta, too.

Joint premises have been so successful in Podgorica that Hungary and Austria have asked the Montenegrin government to return a villa that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy to use as a diplomatic mission for the two countries, she added. Budapest recently sent five travelling consuls to the Austrian embassy in Caracas who will act on behalf of Hungarians arrested throughout the region for drug trafficking.

Hungary will open consulate generals in Lyon and Chicago in April or May but will have to cut staff at consulates in Kosice and Krakow, Fekszi said. Another new development in 2007 will be the opening of a common visa application center at the Hungarian embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, where people may apply for Austrian and Slovenian visa in addition to Hungarian ones, Fekszi said. (