Szijjártó meets Philippine president, ministers

Int’l Relations

photo: KKM / MTI

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó met with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo and Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on an official visit to Manila on Monday. Szijjártó told state news wire MTI by telephone that today Hungary will reopen its embassy in Manila, which was closed in 1995.

Szijjártó (second from right) shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, flanked by Manalo (far left) and Lorenzana. Photo: Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Cooperation between Hungary and the Philippines is entering a new dimension thanks to the reopening of the Hungarian Embassy in Manila and the conclusion of several new agreements,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared by telephone to MTI on the first day of his official visit to the Philippines, as reported by official government website

“Economic cooperation with the Philippines has major advantages for Hungary and the Southeast Asian country occupies a prominent place in Hungary’s foreign economic strategy in view of the fact that its growth of 6.8% is one of the highest in Asia and it has a population of over 100 million. Its significance is further increased by the fact that the Philippines currently occupies the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),” the minister was quoted as saying.

Magyar Eximbank is opening a EUR 510 million credit line to support partnerships between Hungarian and Philippine businesses, Szijjártó said. Agreements are being signed by business chambers, as well as foreign trade institutions in Hungary and the Philippines, he added.   

The foreign minister noted that four Hungarian meat processing plants could start exporting to the country in the near future. The Philippines is also looking to purchase agricultural technology and acquire water management solutions from Hungary, he added.

Thirty-five students from the Philippines are receiving scholarships to study at Hungarian universities in 2017-2019.

“In the interests of making it even easier for Hungarian companies to enter the Filipino market, the Hungarian government is calling for the European Union and the Philippines to conclude a free trade agreement as soon as possible,” Szijjártó declared.

Silence on human rights

Making up for the absence of any comment by Szijjártó on the human rights situation in the Philippines, online news portal listed a number of areas in which the Philippines president has been the subject of global condemnation for various alleged human rights abuses. United Nations human rights experts have called for an end to extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers under Duterteʼs government, accusing him of "incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law."

Duterte has been linked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to extrajudicial killings of over 1,400 alleged criminals and street children by vigilante death squads during his tenure as mayor of Davao City. Duterte has denied responsibility for the extrajudicial killings, while at the same time frequently declaring his support for them.

On September 30, 2016, Duterte appeared to compare the killings of suspected drug addicts to the Holocaust by saying: "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. ... Iʼd be happy to slaughter them."

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