Orbán: Hungary can support closer ties between Europe, Asia

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Balázs Szecsődi/kormany.hu

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán outlined ways Hungary can contribute to stronger cooperation between East and West at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Brussels on Friday, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

Orbán meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (photo by Balázs Szecsődi/kormany.hu)

Hungary can support this cooperation by removing obstacles to trade and investments, by developing connecting points between East and West, and by forging closer ties between people in both places, Orbán told the summit.

The Hungarian prime minister urged faster progress on free trade agreements, regardless of whether they are at the negotiation or the ratification stage. These agreements should include the widest possible range of goods and services, he added.

Cooperation between regional financial institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the International Investment Bank (IIB), should also be deepened, Orbán said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the conference, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó echoed Orbánʼs remarks, saying Hungary is pressing for closer cooperation between Europe and Asia in key areas. Talks on free trade agreements need to be accelerated, he added.

Heads of government and state from 51 countries participated at the 12th ASEM Summit last Thursday and Friday, October 18-19.

Friction reported over Hungaryʼs China stance

A report on news site 444.hu said that participants at a meeting of the V4 countries with Japan had failed to sign a common declaration due to Hungaryʼs pro-China stance.

The planned declaration by Japan and the V4 countries - Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia - had initially contained two references to controversial China-related topics: one relating to South China Sea disputes, and another to the safety of sea travel.

According to the 444.hu report, both references cast a negative light on the current Chinese stance regarding these issues and diplomatically condemned them. The report added that the Hungarian government insisted on deleting these references from the document, but Japan was unwilling to sign a declaration modified in this way.

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