Astana Welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister and Estonian Foreign Minister

May 04. MFA

Astana Welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister and Estonian Foreign MinisterA number of important events for Kazakhstan’s foreign relations have marked the beginning of the current month. On May 3, the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban arrived in Astana for an official two-day visit. Kazakhstan also welcomed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Paet, whose visit resulted in the opening of Estonian Embassy in Astana on May 4.

Kazakhs and Hungarians have historically enjoyed good relations, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said to Viktor Orban during a meeting in Akorda on May 4.

“We welcome your intention to raise the relations between the two countries to new heights. Hungary supports Kazakhstan’s initiatives; your President took part in the OSCE Summit in Astana. Today, you had a meeting with Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister and held an intergovernmental session. I am confident that you have agreed on specifics of our relationship. For my part, I will support these processes,” Nazarbayev said.

“We attach great importance to the historical and cultural ties that unite our peoples. I admire the capital city of Kazakhstan, which symbolizes the transition of humanity into a new phase of development. At a time when much of the world is in crisis, your country continues to advance,” Viktor Orban said.

Earlier the same day, Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Massimov and his Hungarian counterpart opened a joint business forum that resulted in a number of bilateral agreements.

Speaking at the forum, Karim Massimov praised dynamic development of bilateral ties between the two countries and emphasized that the business forum would help define new cooperation areas, as well as integrate economic interests of business communities of each state.

At present, Kazakhstan has more than 50 joint ventures with Hungary operating in the country. The mutual trade turnover in 2011 amounted to more than U.S. $ 270 million, while the volume of Hungarian investments in Kazakhstan economy totalled more than U.S. $ 57 million, Massimov said.

“The success of Kazakhstan’s industrialization programme depends on the investment climate. Agriculture has traditionally been one of the leading sectors of Kazakhstan, and we are interested in Hungary’s experience in implementation of innovative technologies in this sector. I believe that engineering, chemical industry, and tourism are also promising areas for in-depth cooperation,” Massimov said.

Victor Orban, in his turn, said that Kazakhstan is the largest partner of Hungary in Central Asia.

“I think we have not used all the opportunities for development of our economic relations. The Hungarian Government believes that we should develop cooperation with the East in order to diversify our economic relations. Kazakhstan plays an important role in it,” Orban said at the forum.

The business forum resulted in seven new documents between Kazakhstan and Hungary. In particular, the two Prime Ministers signed a joint statement, while the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan and the Ministry for National Economy of Hungary signed an agreement “On information exchange on tax matters.”

Other documents include a protocol of intent on cooperation in healthcare and a cooperation agreement between the chambers of commerce of both countries.

In addition, the Almaty region in Kazakhstan and J?sz-Nagykun-Szolnok County in Hungary signed an agreement on cooperation at the regional level. Kazakhstan’s National Agency for Export and Investment Kaznex Invest and the Hungarian Investment and Trade Agency HITA also signed a memorandum of understanding.

Protocol of intent to create a strategic cooperation in railway transport between the Kazakhstan Temir Zholy railway company and the Hungarian Railways Company became a final document in the package.

On May 3, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade Bakhytzhan Sagintayev and the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Mihaly Varga held the third session of the Kazakh-Hungarian intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation.

“We commend the growing economic interaction between Kazakhstan and Hungary, which is based on the increasing interest among Hungarian businesses for a mutually beneficial cooperation with our country. I am confident that today’s decisions will have a positive impact on bilateral relations and provide new opportunities for development of the national economies,” Sagintayev said at the session.

The session attendees evaluated the current state of bilateral cooperation and discussed its further development. The meeting resulted in a number of memorandums on cooperation signed, in particular, between Kazakhstan’s Parasat National Scientific and Technological Holding and the Hungarian National Innovation Agency, the Kazakh National Music Academy and the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, as well as between the Almaty Zoo and the Budapest Zoo.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Paet arrived in Astana on May 4 for an official visit at the invitation of Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov.

“Kazakhstan attaches great importance to developing friendly cooperation with Estonia. I would like to remind that the state visit by Kazakhstan’s President to Tallinn in April 2011 has given a powerful impetus to the further expansion of comprehensive cooperation between our countries,” Minister Kazykhanov said at a briefing following the bilateral talks.

Kazakhstan and Estonia are ready to implement agreements reached during President Nazarbayev’s visit specific deals and new agreements. Opening of the Estonian Embassy in Astana today clearly demonstrates this attitude, Kazykhanov said.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed developing closer cooperation in transit and transport. “We are interested in the terminals and distribution centres in Estonian ports to tranship Kazakhstan’s goods and energy resources to European markets,” Kazykhanov said.

The sides also discussed prospects for cooperation in e-government development, engineering, processing of agricultural products, livestock, and food industries.

“We intend to expand cooperation with Estonia in the new EU Strategy for Partnership with Central Asia. In conclusion, I would like to note that the talks have once again demonstrated our commitment to the progressive strengthening of bilateral cooperation on a wide range of areas,” Kazykhanov said.

In the afternoon, the ministers attended the opening of the Estonian Embassy in Astana.

As part of his visit, Urmas Paet also met Kairat Mami, Speaker of the Senate Parliament of Kazakhstan. During the meeting, Mami called for strengthening the potential of cooperation groups active in the parliaments of both countries.

The Estonian Foreign Minister supported Kairat Mami’s proposal to enhance inter-parliamentary relations at the level of cooperation groups. This, according to Urmas Paet, “will facilitate the creation of legal conditions for the development of ties in trade, economic, cultural, and educational fields.”