“The loan agreement negotiations between the Ministry of Finance and China’s Exim Bank relating to the construction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line are to be accelerated”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed at a meeting in New York on Monday.

“The contract on the construction of the railway line, which is being realised with Chinese assistance, will only come into force if the related loan agreement is duly concluded”, the Minister explained in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following the meeting.

At the bilateral meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the session of the United Nations General Assembly, the parties determined that relations between Hungary and China have never been as good as they are today. “This is particularly welcome in light of the fact that this year the two countries are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations”, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted.

The Minister said that within the framework of cooperation in the UN, the parties had confirmed the agreement according to which China will be supporting Hungary’s bid for membership of the UNESCO Executive Board, while Hungary will be supporting China’s bid for membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

At the meeting, Mr. Szijjártó confirmed that Hungary remains committed to being the flagship of cooperation between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which, as he explained, not only serves the interests of the countries involved, but also those of the whole European Union.

The parties also confirmed their joint efforts relating to the establishment of a Chinese university in Hungary.

At the meeting, Mr. Szijjártó said that as a country with a small and open economy, Hungary has absolutely no interest in the escalation of trade conflicts. “We hope that our two largest trade partners outside the European Union, the United States and China, will be able to resolve their disputed issues without the introduction of customs duties and other restrictions, while standing on a foundation of reciprocity”, he said following the meeting.

The Minister said that Hungary’s economy is export orientated and extremely competitive, as also indicated by the fact that the country is in 92nd place with relation to the size of its population, but ranked 34 in the world according to export performance. “Accordingly, any and all restriction of the global economy, and the introduction of customs duties or other stricter measures, are at odds with Hungary’s economic interests”, he declared.

Mr. Szijjártó reported on the fact that on the sidelines of the session of the UN General Assembly, he has also held bilateral talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Ekaterina Zaharieva, during which the parties concluded an education and science agreement between the two countries.