The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Eötvös Loránd University have concluded a cooperation agreement.

At the official signing of the agreement at a science and technology conference in Budapest on Monday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said cooperation between the Ministry and the University has a long history, and that cooperation has now been modernised and placed within a uniform framework. “The Ministry will continue to assist the University with the expansion of its international relations; this is in everyone’s interests”, he added.

“The agreement is important because foreign policy experts can only reinforce the Hungarian economy’s dynamically growing trajectory amidst the increasingly tough international competition if Hungarian diplomats are the best trained”, he declared, pointing out that from this perspective higher education is a resource.

Mr. Szijjártó said the language training of the Hungarian diplomatic corps will continue to occur at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE). “The Central European state languages and the languages of eastern countries that are important from a foreign trade perspective, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese and various Turkic and Arab languages, will be at the focus of attention”, he added.

“We have also reinforced our cooperation with relation to the teaching of Hungarian as a foreign language and Hungarian studies”, he continued, adding that: “increasing the broad international understanding of the Hungarian language and culture is an important instrument of advocacy”.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that 48 guest lecturer posts at 46 universities in 26 countries are currently being maintained, partly in cooperation with ELTE, and this number will now be increased: a further 25 university lecturers will be posted during the next twelve months, who will be teaching Hungarian and Hungarian studies.

The Minister said the Stipendium Hungaricum state scholarship programme, within the framework of which thousands of foreign students are being afforded the opportunity to study in Hungary with financing from the Hungarian Government, was the best investment. “In future, they will most certainly be building relations between their home country and Hungary”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

He stressed that the world is primarily changing in accordance with new technologies, and the economic success of a country depends on to what extent it is capable of attracting the related investment projects. “The success of the Hungarian economy also depends on to what extent the related large corporations place their trust in Hungary”, he added.

The “new global economic era” is at least as much an opportunity as a challenge: it is no longer the size of a country that is important or the extent of its natural resources, and a much larger role is being played by human factors, and with relation to creativity, diligence, expertise and innovative capabilities, the Hungarians “have nothing at all to complain about”, the Minister said.

Mr. Szijjártó also told the press that the role of science and technology attachés is determinative in enabling Hungarians to achieve success internationally. “Hungary maintains such positions in, amongst others, Berlin, Paris, London, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Moscow”, he listed.

The Minister said Hungary wants to shift from the “Made in Hungary” period to an “Invented in Hungary” period, meaning the goal is for Hungary, which is regarded as an outstanding production location, to also be acknowledged as an excellent centre for development.

As he explained, we are seeing the arrival of an increasingly high ratio of investments that have a high added value and a significant research & development content, and enterprises that have previously acquired positive experience with relation to production are increasingly also moving their innovation centres to Hungary.

Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics stressed that the Hungarian research environment is currently bad, and this is something that the administration definitely wants to change, and this is why it wants to restructure the institution network and its financing.

He highlighted the fact that the research network is fragmented, and the various units are not working together. The country’s universities are operating separately from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Mr. Palkovics said that in his opinion, although a major debate has developed with relation to the issue, the claims that the Government wants to “annex” the Academy and take away its autonomy and nationalise it are incomprehensible.

He stated that the Eötvös Loránd Research network, which will have its own line in the budget account book, will report directly to Parliament. With relation to the public body system “responsibility will be personified”: a group of acknowledged experts will be taking action with relation to such issues, and at least nine of the thirteen members must come from the field of science.

“The goal is the establishment of an independent organisation”, the Minister stressed, adding that a similar system is in operation in Germany. “All we want is what everyone else in the world is doing”, he stated.

He added that the Government would like to realise the changes as soon as possible, because “the uncertainty caused by such a situation is never good”. “The reorganisation of all major systems causes some turbulence, and this is what we are seeing now”, Mr. Palkovics said.

The Minister for innovation and Technology also spoke about the fact that the question of what will be financed simply requires a decision. “The research of topics related to gender will not be banned, but we will not be providing any funding for it”, he declared.

Rector of the Eötvös Loránd University László Borhy highlighted the fact that the cooperation agreement signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is based on mutuality, and as a result, other countries will have the opportunity to get to know Hungary’s language, culture and values.

The National Office for Research, Development and Innovation’s Vice President for Innovation and General Affairs István Szabó said it is evident that economic growth has become stable, and this can be further increased if added value is increased, meaning if Hungarian enterprises become more competitive. “We regard higher education as the key to the innovation system”, he stated.