In order for Hungary to be able to enforce its interests on the international markets in the ever keener global competition, we need flawless performance in diplomacy and cultural diplomacy, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stressed at the meeting of the directors of Hungarian institutes abroad held on Wednesday at the Balassi Institute.

Mr Szijjártó said: the new world order requires a new approach in foreign policy, and the Government of Hungary has taken every necessary action in recent periods to enforce this in Hungary’s foreign policy strategy.

The Minister added: therefore, the success of this new type of foreign policy and the efficiency of the enforcement of our interests in foreign trade will fundamentally depend on whether or not we perform our conventional duties in diplomacy, and as a niche segment thereof, in cultural diplomacy, flawlessly.

“Cultural diplomacy, and the presentation and popularisation of Hungarian culture must be looked upon as a resource”, the Minister stressed, adding: Hungarian culture may offer a competitive advantage when we wish to enforce our economic interests on the international scene.

As Mr Szijjártó said, the success of Hungarian foreign policy and foreign trade depends on exports and investments, and the country image which is embedded in the negotiating partner’s head is crucial in both cases. The Government will therefore lay particular emphasis in the future on the promotion of a positive country image in which Hungarian cultural and scientific diplomacy will play a key role. In the Minister’s opinion, if we are unable to present Hungarian culture abroad effectively and in a favourable light, it will lead to a major disadvantage.

In the context of scholarship programmes, Mr Szijjártó said: they are of the utmost significance. They function well, and emerge as a long-term investment for Hungary. “Each and every scholarship holder who enjoys themselves while acquiring useful knowledge in Hungary will be an ambassador of Hungary in the decades to come”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, adding: the Government will therefore also lay ample emphasis on educational exchange programmes and scholarship programmes.

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Regarding Hungarian institutes abroad, Mr Szijjártó said that they are currently concentrating on the better and more effective operation and the quality improvement of the 23 cultural institutes operational at present, and the enlargement of the network of institutes will only be placed on the agenda once this goal has been achieved. The Minister further pointed out that the Government is planning to open a cultural institute with a special profile in Tehran which will also serve to promote the rebuilding of bilateral relations.

In the interest of enhancing efficiency, the issue of educational and cultural diplomats will be tied to the issue of institutes. The essence of the new integrated foreign affairs system lies in the concept that institutes functioning in one and the same foreign city should operate in an integrated manner. “It is important that the cultural institutes of the Balassi Institute should operate in an integrated system with the embassies, on the basis of clear coordination and instructions”, the Minister added.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)