Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his talks with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev
30 March 2021, Tashkent (Тошкент)

Honourable President, Dear Uzbek Hosts,

We came here to you with high hopes and optimism. It is always an honour to visit a country which has a great, ancient culture which we ourselves hold in high esteem. We also came here with a great sense of excitement because we can see the modernisation and the political and economic endeavours of the past few years. We can see that you, the Uzbek people, have taken on a huge challenge. Now you are striving to mobilise the fantastic wealth and resources available to you within the framework of a modern economy. This is an admirable programme. And, last but not least, we were delighted to visit your country because we saw this as an opportunity to thank President Mirziyoyev in person for the noble gesture he made a year ago. The pandemic started a year ago, and back then we lacked everything, including personal protective equipment, face masks. At that time vaccines were not even something we could talk about. And in that difficult situation, when everyone was in great need of personal protective equipment, Uzbekistan and your president had the Hungarian people in their thoughts, and sent many hundreds of thousands of face masks to Hungary, so that we could slow the spread of the pandemic. Honourable President, we are grateful for this; the Hungarian people will never forget this. I am happy that now I have the opportunity to thank you for this in person.

Honourable President,

We all feel that world politics and the world economy as a whole are undergoing profound changes. We can bet very large sums of money that if, God willing, we’re still alive in ten years’ time and we sit down together, we will be in a completely different world than the one we are in now. We can see that some regions are rising, the importance of others is declining, the world economy’s centres of gravity are shifting, new technologies are emerging, and the world around us is in constant motion. We Hungarians believe that at the beginning of this new era Hungarians and Uzbeks have joined hands at the right time, and together are striving to explore the opportunity this great transformation offers everyone – including Central Asia and Central Europe. So we came here not only with a sense of excitement, but also with high hopes for the future.

I have been travelling around the world for quite a long time, and I have built many relations for my country. I have learnt that if, right at the beginning, we fail to find a flagship or flagships symbolising economic cooperation, then good intentions crumble and eventually evaporate. We need one or two large programmes, one or two great joint ventures. We need one or two great shared economic tasks which clearly show both Uzbek and Hungarian businesses that something serious is in prospect here, and that they can safely navigate behind the large flagships in calmer waters, because others are breaking the ice, clearing the path and leading the way. I am grateful to President Mirziyoyev for the opportunity, with our similar way of thinking, to jointly identify those few flagships which will, in my opinion, pull the economies of our two countries forward. We are grateful for the opportunity of cooperation in the financial sector, and we are proud that you have also chosen us as partners in the modernisation of your agriculture. We know how proud the Uzbeks are of their agriculture, and how important it is for them: they see it as not simply an economic issue, but also as something existential. And we Hungarians, too, believe that we excel at agriculture. We believe that we possess the essential farming virtues, we know how to bring something from the soil, how to produce crops, and we do this with world-class technology. When it comes to agriculture, this is our self-image, this is how we think about ourselves. We are pleased to trade with and jointly invest with a country that places importance on agriculture, and to implement agricultural developments which also represent the highest technological standards. We are particularly grateful for this. That Uzbek-Hungarian relations stand on sound foundations can also be seen in the fact that while the pandemic has reduced the overall volume of world trade, the volume of Uzbek-Hungarian trade has increased – and has increased significantly. It is true that it started from a lower level, but it has increased significantly. This shows that it has legs, as we say: there is energy in this, there is potential which we can further enhance with intelligent policies. I am also grateful to the Honourable President for giving us the opportunity for future cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, and we also see opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector.

Of course Hungary is a strange and extraordinary country: a people without kinfolk in Europe. But we do live in a region: in the Central European region. We call the cooperation of these Central European countries the Visegrád Four. In the year ahead we will be coordinating the work of this group, and I have asked the Honourable President to assist me over the course of the year to explore the opportunities for cooperation between the countries of Central Europe and Central Asia. I believe that with today’s agreements and talks we have gained momentum. We have set out. We look forward to the Honourable President visiting Hungary, to reciprocating our visit here. And in six months or a year from now, when we can see the first results, I will propose to the Honourable President that our two governments hold a joint meeting to review the results achieved together. I say this in all modesty, but I truly hope that today we have all been part of a great historic new beginning.

Once more I thank the Honourable President for inviting us here.