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Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi | Dávid Harangozó

Hungary to nurture relations between China and EU

The EU’s relation with China is one of the topics of discussion at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Diplomacy & Trade online takes a look at this issue that is likely to be also highlighted when Hungary takes over the rotating EU presidency next year.

The foreign ministers of the European Union have gathered in Brussels to discuss the concept of relations with the EU’s strategic partners: China, India and Brazil, in preparation for Thursday’s EU summit. “The aim is to make the EU’s foreign policy more effective,” says Steven Vanackere, the foreign minister of Belgium that fills the role of the EU’S rotating presidency in the second half of this year. Hungary is represented at the ministerial meeting by foreign minister János Martonyi.

It was him who held talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Hanoi, Vietnam on July 21, 2010 on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, where Mr Martonyi represented the EU. At the meeting, the two sides pledged to enhance mutual trust, expand and deepen economic, trade and investment co-operation, strengthen high-level exchanges and increase mutual understanding and traditional friendship. Hungary vowed to take this opportunity to push forward both China-Hungary and China-EU ties especially in the light of the upcoming Hungarian EU presidency in the beginning of next year. Given the historical friendly relations and economic incentives between the two countries, Hungary can play an important role in promoting, understanding and paving the way for friendly relations between China and the European Union.

One major objective that the Hungarian foreign policy has always sought to accomplish was to maintain good relations with China. Hungary was among the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China, and the bilateral relationship between China and Hungary has endured an uninterrupted trust-bond. Sino-Hungarian relations have also been experiencing a revival in recent years. Following Hungary’s EU membership in 2004, relations between the two countries became stronger resulting in regular high-level visits and leading to various agreements. This year, Hungary opened its third Consulate-General in China, in Chongqing, which reflects the developing strategic importance of bilateral relations.

Apart from political relations, Chinese co-operation with Hungary has reached high economic points with considerable investment from China in the Hungarian market. Given Hungary’s geographical location and traditional friendship with China, Hungary can benefit immensely from the Chinese economic expansion as a regional hub of China’s economic activities targeting Central Europe and could possibly serve as a bridge between other countries of the EU and China. Only time will tell whether Hungary can use its position to boost relations between China and the European Union when it holds the rotating presidency in the EU in the first half of 2011.

Dóra Zombori and Rudolf Sárdi

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