CERCLE DIPLOMATIQUE - issue 02/2020

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CD is an independent and impartial magazine and is the medium of communication between foreign representatives of international and UN-organisations based in Vienna and the Austrian political classes, business, culture and tourism. CD features up-to-date information about and for the diplomatic corps, international organisations, society, politics, business, tourism, fashion and culture. Furthermore CD introduces the new ambassadors in Austria and informs about designations, awards and top-events. Interviews with leading personalities, country reports from all over the world and the presentation of Austria as a host country complement the wide range oft he magazine.

LE MONDE HUNGARY | INTERVIEW

H.E. Andor Nagy

“Austria is strategically important for Hungary.“

The Ambassador of Hungary to Austria comments on the political situation in Hungary, the relation

between Hungary, Austria and the EU and measures against Covid-19.

Interview: Robert Winter

PHOTO: RALPH MANFREDA

CD: Like almost every country around the globe,

Hungary is also under the spell of the Corona

crisis. How is Hungary coping with it and which

measures have been successful?

Andor Nagy: Hungary, just like Austria,

took the situation very seriously and acted

responsibly right from the start. The situation

was under control all the time, the figures

are good, as in Austria. Thanks to the

timely reaction we were able to avoid the

rapid spread of the virus in Hungary. Our

country has an overall prevalence of 0.3 per

thousand of the resident population. By the

way, our constitution regulates in great detail

what the government has to do in such

a dangerous situation. The government has

adopted several measures in good time to

protect human lives, jobs and businesses,

such as tax breaks, short-time working,

loan guarantees and deferral of payments

for credit liabilities. The measures are similar

to those in other countries.

Will the Hungarian healthcare system, which has

been classified as in need of improvement since

the fall of communism some 30 years ago, be

reformed?

Reforming a healthcare system is a difficult

and complex task. Since the fall of the

Berlin Wall, at the beginning of the 90‘s,

every Hungarian government has started

to reform the healthcare system and it is

still not finished. We have a very good educational

system, with well qualified doctors,

nurses, many of them working in Austria.

In December last year, the Government

published a government decision on the

complete reorganisation of the financing

system and the structure of healthcare provision.

It was announced earlier this year

that it would provide financial support to

hospitals for the reform costs in order to

renew the system. The Corona crisis has

rewritten some things. But the health system

has shown excellent performance in

this critical situation.

Covid-19 has a massive impact on the economy.

What steps are planned in Hungary to reduce the

consequences?

As in Austria, the government is granting

an aid package. There are aid measures

such as wage subsidies through short-time

work, tax cuts and zero-percent credits.

Even loan repayments are suspended. The

Hungarian government is making 26 billion

euro available for economic development.

“We are creating as many new jobs as

the virus has destroyed“, is the prime

minister‘s motto.

From 2013 to 2019, Hungary‘s GDP growth was

above the EU average. What development can be

expected for the current year and the next years?

We must first get out of the crisis in order

to be able to observe the consequences

closely. All EU countries are of course affected,

we will experience a recession. The

sectors that are less dependent on foreign

trade and tourism will also experience milder

economic downturns. According to the

EU pre-year forecast, Hungary‘s GDP is

expected to fall by six percent in 2020/2021.

Which sectors are most important for Hungary‘s

economy?

Due to its geopolitical position in Central

Europe, Hungary plays an important

role in logistics, as a hub connecting East

with West, North with South. But Hungary

offers much more than just being a transit

country. We have taken on a pioneering

role in the automotive and e-mobility sectors,

and have, for example, developed a

unique test track called Zalazone for autonomous

vehicles, so that we can ensure the

strengthening of innovative research and

development capacities. Other strengths

are electronics and mechatronics, structural

and civil engineering, pharmaceuticals,

agriculture and tourism, of course. Hungary

has always been a popular destination

for Austrians, and hopefully it will remain

so. And just as gladly, Hungarians come to

Austria to spend their holidays here.

How do you rate the political and economic

relations of Hungary with the European Union and

in particular with Austria? Are there areas where

improvements are desirable?

Austria is a strategically important partner

for Hungary. 150,000 Hungarians live

and work in Austria. Every 5th employee in

Austria is a foreigner. This includes many

Hungarian guest workers and many commuters

as well, in healthcare, tourism, gastronomy,

trade and the construction industry.

They earn good money and work

diligently and reliably. Hungary is Austria‘s

most important export partner in Central

and Eastern Europe and Austria‘s sixth

most important export market in the EU.

Hungary is also one of the top 10 countries

with the strongest export increases, compared

to the same period last year. But Austria

is also very important for Hungary.

Austria is Hungary‘s second most important

trading partner after Germany. With

many Austrian companies and over 70,000

employees. That means: 70,000 families receive

their living directly from Austrian

owners.

Hungary is one of the largest net beneficiaries of

the European Union. Nevertheless, voices critical

of the EU can be heard time and again from

Budapest. How does that fit together?

Hungary is one of the four largest net

beneficiaries. That is correct. But we are tal-

H.E. ANDOR NAGY

is the Ambassador of Hungary to Austria

since 2018. He graduated at the Eötvös

Loránd University in Budapest at the

Faculty of Law and holds a MSc. in legal

and political studies. He is married and

the father of four girls.

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Cercle Diplomatique 2/2020

Cercle Diplomatique 2/2020

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