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Portugal and Hungary: Enhancing Economic and Cultural Cooperation

We want to make the 50th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Portugal memorable not only by presenting Hungarian folk art, culture and traditions, but we also try to present traditional Hungarian foods, handicrafts, and sports innovation (Hungarikums) to the Portuguese public. Between 10 and 13 in April, in Lisbon, Santiago de Cacém and Setúbal, everyone will have the opportunity to taste Hungarian flavours, and in the restaurant of Hyatt Regency Hotel, a Hungarian menu prepared by a Hungarian chef during the same week will be available. According to our plans, also in the same week, the Hungarian products will be found and can be tasted in the supermarket of the Continente chain in Colombo Shopping Mall.

As the Ambassador of Hungary, I would like to deepen the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of science, culture, and with a special emphasis on economy. My goal is to help Hungarian companies appear on the Portuguese market, but I am convinced, that these cooperation can bring a mutually fruitful relationship for both the Portuguese and Hungarian sides.

Given Hungary’s open economy, export activity, which has increased again compared to the previous year, is particularly important for maintaining our competitiveness. In 2023, the value of exports reached 41.5 billion euros, and imports exceeded 50.0 billion euros, resulting in a foreign trade balance approaching 1 billion euros. With Portugal our export exceeded 73 million euros, more than doubling the imports valued at 31 million euros.

Regarding the economy and science, we have the opportunity to work together mostly in the high added value, and the research-based sectors, but cannot ignore the effects of climate change affecting our world, which presents almost every country with a huge challenge in terms of agriculture and drinking water management. Hungarian water industrial companies have already successfully implemented projects in many parts of the world, and we do believe that there are opportunities for cooperation in Portugal as well, which we would like to explore and take advantage of.

In the almost six months since my arrival, we have implemented many successful programs that fit perfectly into these areas.

Last December we had a really successful Space Workshop, organized in cooperation of Portugal Space Agency, Aeronautics, Space and Defence Cluster, and University of Minho. Five Hungarian companies represented themselves personally on this two-day event, and it is no exaggeration to say that both Hungarian and Portuguese companies have gained a lot of new experience, which they will hopefully be able to use in the form of concrete business relationships in the future. This program was very important for us, considering that we have an existing cooperation agreement with the Portuguese Space Agency.

As the Ambassador of Hungary, I would like to deepen the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of science, culture, and with a special emphasis on economy

Emília Fabián, Ambassador of Hungary to Portugal

Let me mention another very important objective of ours, which is to promote those Hungarian companies that can be involved in the development of smart cities, and provide the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Portuguese market. To this end, this year we will participate in the Portugal Smart Cities Summit exhibition for the third year, which is an excellent venue for building relationships with companies offering innovative, smart solutions. So far, 10 Hungarian companies have participated in the exhibition, and we expect the participation of at least five companies this year as well.

Given that culture serves as a unifying force among people, our focus on cultural diplomacy stands as a pivotal aspect of our endeavors. We intend to perpetuate and broaden our engagements in this realm. Over the past decade, we have been consistent participants in the Night of European Literature, collaborated with the Terras sem Sombra festival, we will have the 10. St. Elisabeth charity concert in November. Our quest for collaborative prospects extends to musical festivals, film festivals, and various cultural events. On my initiative the embassy has started a Scholars’ Club, offering a platform for professionals in science and culture to impart their significant findings and expertise to a broader audience. These presentations specifically delve into aspects related to Hungary. In the autumn, we successfully conducted a lecture on the Kodály method, and more recently, an interactive lecture by a film music composer explored the intricacies of music in cinema, with additional events in preparation.

We already had some projects for presenting the work of the Hungarian-born 18th century architect Carlos Mardel in cooperation with Portuguese entities. Last year in cooperation with Museu de Lisboa we organised a conference, and a photo exhibition on the architectural heritage of Carlos Mardel.

Since February we have a Hungarian guest lecturer, an excellent professor at University of Porto, with whom we envisage orchestrating additional programs, extending our reach to the northern regions of Portugal. The robust religious diplomatic ties between Hungary and Portugal manifest through various notable expressions, such as the endeavors of Padre Luis Kondor, the Hungarian Calvary, and the Mindszenty statue unveiled last year in Fátima. Furthermore, the esteemed figure of the former Emperor Blessed Charles IV commands deep reverence in both Madeira and continental Portugal.

I am of the opinion that promoting expert-level and high-level bilateral dialogue is a crucial responsibility in sustaining discussions and fostering direct communication with key Portuguese decision-makers. Such engagements not only facilitate the development of robust personal connections but also contribute to a deeper mutual understanding. In the previous year, President Katalin Novák of Hungary, and several ministers visited Portugal to engage with their counterparts, and we are committed to sustaining the level of engagement.

In the second half of 2024 Hungary will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, already the second time since 2011. This responsibility entails a unique undertaking during the period of shaping the new European Parliament and European Commission after the June elections, along with the formidable logistical challenge of orchestrating numerous high-level meetings within Hungary. The Embassy in Lisbon anticipates an increased workload as it diligently prepares and executes various events in Portugal linked to the Hungarian Presidency.

It is a gratifying responsibility of the Embassy to nurture ties with the Hungarian community residing in Portugal. This community maintains direct interaction with the embassy, visiting our consular section and participating in diverse cultural and family programs organized by the Embassy, often in collaboration with the Association for Portuguese-Hungarian Cooperation.

Overall, we are proactively seeking opportunities for collaboration across the economic, political, and cultural domains to enhance the ties between our two nations and our citizenry.

Emília Fabián, Ambassador of Hungary to Portugal

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