Hungary, Europe need pragmatic cooperation with Russia: Hungarian FM
BUDAPEST, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Restoring pragmatic cooperation with Russia is vital to Hungarian and European competitiveness, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a Budapest news conference on Tuesday.
Szijjarto was speaking after holding talks with Aleksandr Mikhailov, governor of the Kursk Oblast in Russia, and signing a cooperation agreement between the Hungarian foreign ministry, the assembly of Baranya County in southern Hungary, and the Kursk Oblast.
Szijjarto acknowledged that the current European political atmosphere was not conducive to European-Russian cooperation, but noted that Europe had to be ready for pragmatic economic cooperation after the Minsk Accord was fulfilled since Europe, Russia, and Ukraine all had a vested interest in it.
The time leading up to fulfillment of the agreement should be used to prepare to cooperate, and regional cooperation, such as the cooperation venture between Kursk and Baranya, was one means of preparation, he said.
Szijjarto said it was clear that the European Union's sanctions against Russia and the Russian embargo launched in response had hurt the European economy which included Hungary, as well as Russia and Ukraine.
As far as Hungary's losses are concerned, he said that two years ago Russia was Hungary's second most important trading partner and today it was only fourteenth.
Hungarian businesses had been deprived of two billion dollars worth of export opportunities, Szijjarto added.
Cooperation between Kursk and Baranya was a deliberate move to boost economic cooperation and Hungary hoped to evolve similar cooperation agreements with as many Russian Oblasts as possible, he said.
Kursk Oblast, which borders on Ukraine, is comparatively close to Hungary, has an advanced agriculture, a heavy industry that relies on mining, and is also important for its nuclear power, the Hungarian foreign minister said.
He saw opportunities for cooperation in agriculture, health tourism, higher education, and nuclear energy.
Mikhailov said that the leadership of Kursk Oblast was ready to work with the business world and scientific community to implement cooperation agreements in a mutually beneficial manner.