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The Berlin Dialogue on the future of Europe and the role of Central Europe
Climate, energy crisis, Covid-19, coalition talks and government formation in Germany, elections in Hungary - all these processes and factors affect our future in the European Union, and especially in the relationship between Germany and Central Europe. What is the role of Germany and Hungary in this and what do young people think about these?
1027 Budapest, Bem rakpart 47.
Event reportDiscourse between Dr. Péter Györkös, Ambassador of Hungary in Berlin and Dr. Katharina Landgraf, former Member of the Bundestag. Moderated by Maren Schöning German-Hungarian Youth Work Dr. Péter Györkös started the discussion by presenting Hungary’s economical achievements in the last eleven years. The pandemic showed clearly, that the Hungarian economy became resilient enough, to withstand any crisis: the ambassador listed some facts to bolster this statement, for example: - Today, more people are working, than in 2019, before the pandemic. - The Hungarian economy will grown this year beyond 6 %. - Hungary is trading more goods with Germany, than Russia does. - The V4 countries have a similar population (65 million), as France, by comparing the trading volume of France and the V4 with Germany, statistics show, that the V4 trade more goods with Germany, than France does. - The V4 are today the only region in the EU, with a substantial amount of economic growth every year. The ambassador stated about the German-Hungarian economic relations: - Including their families, German companies in Hungary provide a livelihood for almost 1 million people. - One of the reasons for this is, that German companies consider Hungary as a safe country to invest in. - Since 2018 an intensive economic development program has been taking place in Hungary, which means that instead of quantitative production, the emphasis is increasingly shifting on research and development. Companies invested in, do not only manufacture, but also install their research and development departments here. - Hungary has become from extended workbench (made in Hungary) to a successful location for innovation (invented in Hungary). After that, the Ambassador highlighted the importance of educational links, as the economy can only function well with a skilled workforce. Statesments: - Hungary is the only country outside the German-speaking countries where it is possible to participate in German-language education from kindergarten to university. He emphasized also, that the EU's only, but unavoidable strength today lies in the internal market, which, together with the Schengen system, ensures free trade and secures wealth. Katharina Landgraf, a former member of the Bundestag, first spoke about her experiences with South Korea and then with Hungary: - It is her personal experience that Hungary was a freer country – even before the fall of the Iron Curtain – than the other states of the Eastern Bloc, especially the GDR. - She finds that many people in Germany form an opinion about Hungary – often in a very polar way – only on the basis of what they have heard in the media. The reality is only seen by those who do visit Hungary personally. - Hungary does not need Western guidelines on freedom and sovereignty, which are not contrary to the idea of being a European. - She praised the Hungarian family policy, from which Germany could also take many elements. After both statements, questions followed: Regarding the campus of the Chinese Fudan University to be established in Budapest, the ambassador explained: - The Hungarian government is aware of the strategic shifts in the world, which mean an increase in the role and importance of China and South-East Asia in the world economy. This is well illustrated by the fact that last year most foreign investments came to Hungary from South Korea. - Hungary is trying to follow this shift and do everything in its power to benefit from this competition between the West and the East. In order for Hungary to remain competitive, it must be open to the East, one of the means of which is the close cooperation established in the fields of education, science and research and development, including with China. One, but not the only, element of this strategy is the care of the Fudan University to Budapest. The ambassador added, that negotiations are underway to bring a South Korean university to Budapest as well. A long-standing negative perception of Hungary in the German media was also mentioned in the discussion: - The ambassador expressed his hope that the co-operation between the two countries, based on the mutual respect experienced so far, would be maintained with the new German Government. At the same time it’s a matter of fact that the „about Hungary only negative or nothing” policy contributes to negative trends at the level of civic diplomacy. Therefore it’s of utmost importance to compensate the „losses” through corona by new engagements at the level of youth, schools, universities and cities. - According to Katharina Landgraf, the most important thing for maintaining good relations is that the citizens of the two countries do know- and communicate with each other on a personal level. A positive relationship between the two nations can be built example by means of culture, on the base of our common history, or through connections of the young generations, which exist regardless of political differences.
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