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VeronicaChahin

Observing Hungarian identity

In its WittyLeaks series, Diplomacy and Trade regularly publishes the personal accounts of ambassadors accredited in the Hungarian capital. This time, it is the turn of the Chilean ambassador to tell about her observations in Hungary.

Being a
diplomat is like being a social engineer: one has to build motorways and
bridges for people from all walks of life and all parts of the world to get to
know each other, communicate, share their uniqueness and join their particular
potentials.

This
understanding builds inclusiveness and mutual respect for different ways of
thinking and living. The ultimate building with these fundamental elements,
cemented in dialog, is the peaceful resolution of conflict and differences,
granting a happier quality of life for mankind in our drastically interconnected
and globalized world.

As Ambassador
of Chile to Hungary, what strikes me most are the people, Hungarians on buses
and streets, old and young, at the shop or at university, at school or at the
working place. I perceive a certain stance, seemingly shaped by centuries of history and by being
at the crossroads for many of the mightiest and most advanced cultures of East
and West.

Many a great
empire put its eyes on Hungarian land to subdue their people as subjects of
their own civilizations. Nonetheless, through their shared struggle for survival,
with hard work and enormous strength and effort, they have managed to preserve
their language, the thinking that bred 14 Nobel Awards, their culture, their
values. There is a markedly Hungarian identity present in every aspect of life,
at home, in the streets, at work and at sunrise.

It is amazing
for me to see the elder people’s faces, still marked by their difficult life
under domination, by their fight against conquerors, live witnesses of hard
times: they stay up and face everyday life with enduring pride, their stern expressions
and strong but kind eyes hiding always a smile, waiting to provide a solidary
gesture, always prompt to help each other.

They look at
foreigners with interest and take them for what they are, not for their
position or what they own, or look like. I sense sort of a human equalitarian
air permeating all relations that prevails over any other consideration.

Youngsters
are strong minded, hard workers, proud of their ancestors and traditions; they
enjoy every aspect of living and show increasing curiosity for foreign lands
and cultures.  They seem to me like the young
flock that, coming from the harsh historical winter, begins to fly, eager to
test their wings around the world.

I might notice
this because I am Chilean, from one of the countries hardest stricken by
natural disasters; a land where our people and migrants from all around the
world have learnt to surmount unthinkable difficulties, historically isolated from
any immediate help, and learnt to start all over again, building from ashes. Much
as the Phoenix.

Another virtue
that amazes me in Hungary is the extraordinary professional competence,
ingenuity and abilities that I have seen all around in this first year living
in beautiful Budapest. Not only here, too. Back home, creative and innovative Hungarian
youngsters are participating with increasing success in the Chilean start-up
program. Also, young scientists are interested in our Atacama Desert and in Antarctica,
traveling there, exploring, visiting and studying, returning back home to share
and promote their findings.

Prestigious universities
have Departments of Spanish Studies, and they gather interested crowds through organizing
very successful events, which include professionals not only from Spain but
also from Latin American countries. More and more people are eager to know and
to learn about other countries’ experiences. People´s Diplomacy at its best.

I feel joyful
at this newer generation’s interest in their future, which is being decided
now. Luckily for them, their blooming curiosity paired with modern means of
communication – from cheaper flights to the online reality – have shortened distances,
making it possible to explore the world and make good friends across the oceans
too.

Thus, one of
my priorities as representative of my country is to support the consolidation of
these networks, to facilitate exchanges between Chile and Hungary in many fields,
with emphasis on younger people. In turn, the future will be an ever richer and
integrated framework of bonds, which I am convinced, can only bring benefits to
all. The potential seems endless.

During last April´s
Official Visit to Hungary of Chilean Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edgardo
Riveros, to hold Political Consultations with his Hungarian counterpart Vice-Minister
László Szabó, a Work and Holidays
Agreement was signed to allow young Chileans and Hungarians to visit, work
and live for a year in each other´s country.

This is a
substantial component for the shared world I was referring to, as their experiences,
while immersed in the other’s culture and language, will broaden the scope of
bonds bound to emerge. The signing of these kinds of agreements has been a most
positive initiative with valuable pluses for Chile. We have reached out to the
world and get firsthand experience of realities which seemed so far away,
discovering commonalities and expanding exchanges in businesses, investments,
academic, cultural and of student flows.

Furthermore,
we are looking forward for Chilean students to join the Stipendium Hungaricum Program, working with various universities interested
in accepting Chilean students into their international post-graduate programs. On
this tune, an agreement on promoting academic and student exchanges was signed last
March between the General Secretary of the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference, Mr.
Zoltán Dubéczi, and his Chilean counterpart.

We are very
enthusiastic in supporting the bonds of Chile with the founders of Europe’s first
Academy of Sciences and with the knowledge-seeking tradition of a culture, which
is justly proud of providing the world with 14 Nobel Prize Winners.

These
developments stem from the reinstallation of the Embassy of Hungary in Chile in
2014, in the framework of Hungary’s South-Opening Policy, followed by last
year’s appointment in Santiago of a Commercial Attaché and the opening of a
National Trade House in 2015. Concrete steps that contribute in great measure
to consolidate trends, like the steady growth of trade, totaling USD 81.4
million in 2015 from USD 60.6 million a year before. We hope the near future will
see crossed investments materializing in each other’s societies.

In the
multilateral arena, Chile and Hungary share a like-minded approach and joint
actions on key issues such as disarmament, global warming, sustainable
development and gender initiatives. Accordingly, during the last OECD Summit –
Chile presided while Hungary held one of the Vice-Presidencies –, Budapest and
Santiago supported a most important initiative for middle-income countries in
the field of international cooperation.

Furthermore,
as an Observer country to the Pacific Alliance mechanism (PA), which is
presided over by Chile until July 2017, Hungary and Canada were the first countries
to propose a concrete project – in education – to jointly work with the four PA
Member States (namely Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru).

The above mentioned
are but some examples that the bridges and motorways are working to get people
together, to build a better world for our children and future citizens through
knowledge, respect and inclusiveness. That will allow us all to have a more
secure, sustainable and harmoniously developed world where people can live free
and happy.

Verónica Chahín, Ambassador of Chile

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