H.E. Mr. Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary H.E. Mr Péter Szijjártó during the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Hungarian Embassy in The Hague.
By Roy Lie Atjam.
The Ambassador of Hungary in the Netherlands, H.E. Mr András Kocsis cordially welcomed guests to the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Hungarian Embassy in The Hague on 31 October 2019. The inauguration was held in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary H.E. Mr Péter Szijjártó and his Dutch counterpart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr Stef Blok. The two performed the official opening by cutting of a ribbon.
Among the dignitaries attending the inauguration ceremony were the Director General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr. Fernando Arias and his deputy, Ms. Odette Melono. Furthermore, the Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jhr Ir József Béla Jankovich de Jeszenice, Hon Consul of Hungary, members of the Hungarian community and others.
The playing of the Hungarian and Dutch national anthem was followed by the inaugural speech by Ministers Péter Szijjártó and Stef Blok. In short, this is what they said.
Contribution by H.E. Minister Péter Szijjártó:
“We respect the Netherland a lot, we respect the Dutch people a lot. And we know we have debates when it comes to some issues on our agendas. We have to accept that we look at the world from a different angle; we have a different vision. This should not prevent us from cooperation on some very important issues.
First of all, I hope today at this meeting we can come to some kind of agreement to help the Christian communities being prosecuted in the world. We are a country which has been Christian for more than a thousand years. Our heritage is that we feel responsibility for persecuted Christians in the world.
In the framework of NATO we have a strong defence cooperation. Military practices have been carried out together and we respect the role of the 24 Dutch soldiers serving in Hungary in the framework of the heavy [airwave wing] capacity. We respect that the Netherlands is the number one contributor to the [B4 fund], especially when it comes to the Eastern partnership. We do agree that countries East from the European Union who would like to have an European future should be helped and assisted by us. And we have a common position when it comes to managing security as well.
We both believe that the composition of the national [..] should be taken in consideration as a national competence. Here as we are present at the opening of the newly renovated embassy, we have to say thank you to our Dutch colleagues for our consular cooperation. The Netherlands provides consular service to Hungarian citizens at eight locations. Soon it will be seven since I will follow my Dutch colleague and we reopen our embassy at Amsterdam.
When it comes to economy, I am happy to note that the Netherlands is the seventh most important trading part for Hungary. We have a strong cooperation which is reflected by the figure of 8.7 billion euros of trade exchange. Last year we had 7% growth and so far this year we had 6% growth. As we can recognize representatives of some Dutch companies investing in Hungary I would like to mention that the Dutch companies form the eight largest group of investors in Hungary. We respect them very much given the fact that there are 15.000 Hungarians who have been employed by Dutch companies. Even the big ones like Shell, Heineken, Phillips or FrieslandCampina. We are happy that they are happy.
We are happy that they are take advantage of a very competitive business environment offering the lowest tax rates in Europe. In order to improve our trade exchange, I just gave instructions our [man] to open a 1.7-billion-euro credit line to finance Hungarian Dutch business to business cooperation.
So, regarding the future we are interest in a constructive, mutual beneficial cooperation. And we are definitively ready. And you can count on me when it comes to the mutual benefits and the mutual interest to be realized. “
Contribution by H.E. Minister Stef Blok:
“This neighbourhood was designed in the 19th century and has the elegance of that era. It has pleasant parks and villa’s and breathes the spirit of diplomacy. The Hague is internationally known as the city of peace and justice. Many of the embassies, missions and organisations work hard to make this slogan a reality. This gives the neighbourhood also a kind of togetherness and unity and the buildings reflect that. This embassy is a fine example. The villa has connected our two nations since 1971. It has been home to a generation of Hungarian diplomats and many visitors who received the Hungarian hospitality, right here.
This year we celebrate a century of our bilateral relations.It is a year to look back on our shared history and look forward to our common future. Our economic ties are stronger than ever. As you have explained we are working hard to reach ten million euros and of course we are not only connected by economic interests. We are also united by NATO and part of the EU
These relationships come with responsibility. The best way we can be partners, is to be honest with each other. To give praise when its due, and express criticism when necessary. It is in the spirit of our partnership that I want to express my concern about the rule of law in Hungary. I worry about the recent developments in your country. This sits uneasily with the community of values that is the European norm.
No doubt, after a major renovation your embassy is once again fit to represent the Hungarian people. We can continue our dire work about these issue in a fitting location. Today would have been a memorable day for two reasons. Firstly, it is the opening of this wonderful embassy building. Secondly, today might have been Brexit day. The Brexit process turned out to be as complicated as the Hungarian language. Although the language is more beautiful than the Brexit.
But if the British do leave – and we will be sad to see them go – I see their departure as a wakeup call. We need to invest more in our European partnership. And above all we need to do a better job at explaining to our citizens why the EU is matters. And that is something, the remaining members of the European Union, need to do together. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree on one thing: that the EU makes our citizens safer, freer and more prospers. A shared notion on which I believe Hungary and the Netherlands can further strengthen our bilateral ties and continue our open dialogue.
Heartiest congratulations on your renovated embassy, may it be a source of prosperity and enjoyment for you.”
Availing himself of the opportunity, Minister Péter Szijjártó, met at OPCW Headquarters with H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, Director General of the OPCW.
Photography by the Embassy of Hungary in The Hague.