Hungary and Pakistan are ready to strengthen business cooperation, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said on Friday, after meeting Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Szijjártó is heading a delegation of business leaders representing 17 Hungarian companies to Islamabad, who were scheduled to attend a business forum later in the day.
Szijjártó told the press conference held together with Qureshi that the two countries saw no political obstacles to stronger cooperation. They also agreed it was unnecessary to “lecture each other” on domestic policy issues, Szijjártó said. Szijjártó noted that Hungary’s new consulate in Karachi was scheduled to be opened be opened later on Friday. Hungary continues to offer 200 grants for Pakistani students every year, an opportunity that drew over 9,500 applications this year, he said. Currently, 510 Pakistani students attend Hungarian universities, he said. The Hungarian Eximbank has opened an 84 million US dollar credit line to boost cooperation between Pakistani and Hungarian companies, he noted.
Hungary’s flagship project in the country is oil and gas company MOL’s investment there, to the tune of 2 billion dollars, he said. As the second largest oil producer and fifth in natural gas production, MOL covers 14% of Pakistan’s energy needs, Szijjártó said. It also leads the utilisation of Pakistan’s largest natural gas field, he said. The Hungarian businessmen travelling with the minister included the CEO of Hungarian discount airline Wizzair and companies in the agricultural, food production, food safety, industrial cyber security and railway development sectors. The representatives of Hungarian and Pakistani companies signed five cooperation agreements after the press conference in food production and IT services.
In a statement to MTI later in the day, Szijjártó said Hungary was also launching a 50 million US dollar tied-aid programme to support Hungarian companies exporting medical equipment, water management services and food safety technologies to Pakistan. Commenting on the United States’ decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, Szijjártó said the primary objective now was to avoid Afghanistan “sinking back into a hotbed of terrorism and extremist ideologies”. Stable countries in the region must be given help to protect their borders and stop the threat of terrorism, he said. That is also in Europe’s interest, as is a close cooperation with the region on the matter, he said.