Media Statement

16 May 2012

Deputy Minister Fransman concludes a successful Working Visit to Hungary

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman concluded a successful, two-day Working Visit to Hungary on 14-15 May 2012.

The objectives of the Working Visit were to consolidate and strengthen political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries, whilst exploring further opportunities for cooperation that seek to address their national and regional developmental goals, particularly in the areas of poverty and unemployment; education, research and skills development; improving the quality of health care; boosting trade and economic growth; and infrastructure development.

South Africa and Hungary exchanged views on global governance issues of common interest pertaining to multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as formations such as BRICS and IBSA.

Outcomes of Major UN Conferences and Summits, including the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP17) and preparations for the Rio Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), were also discussed.

During his Working Visit in Budapest, Hungary, the Deputy Minister held bilateral consultations with Mr János Hόvári, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary; Mr Kristóf Szatmáry, Minister of State for Economic Regulation of the Ministry of National Economy; Dr Miklós Szócska, Minister of State for Health of the Ministry of Human Resources; Mr Géza Szőcs, Minister of State for Culture of the Ministry of Human Resources; and Dr. Rózsa Hoffmann,  Minister of State for Education of the Ministry of Human Resources.

The Deputy Minister paid courtesy calls on H.E. Mr Zsolt Semjén, Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, as well as Mr Iván Bába, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Deputy Minister Fransman also met with Academia and Business. Fruitful discussions were held with Prof. Dr. József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Dr Habil. Tamás Dezső PhD. Dean of the Humanities Faculty; Prof. Dr. Zoltán Horváth PhD. Vice-Rector for International Affairs at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) and other members of the Faculty.

The Deputy Minister also met with SAB Miller as a South African investor in Hungary, as well as with prominent members of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce representing sectors that are important to South Africa, such as vocational training, information technology, research and development, renewable energy, wine distribution and food processing, amongst others.

During Deputy Minister Fransman's meetings with the various Ministries of the Hungarian Government, as well as with Academia and Business, it was evident that Hungary is increasingly focusing on South Africa and the sub-region as an important developmental partner, with SADC as a strategic link.

In this regard, the following were identified by South Africa and Hungary as key areas of opportunities for establishing initiatives, partnerships and cooperation. These are: trade and investment; education, skills development and vocational training; agriculture; mining; food production; water and waste management; as well as horti-management.

In terms of science and technology, South Africa is keen to facilitate institutional partnerships between science councils and academic institutions.

With regard to trade and economic cooperation, a high-level Joint Economic Commission (JEC) will be held in Budapest in the second half of 2012 to facilitate the strengthening of economic and commercial relations between the two countries.

Bilateral trade between South Africa and Hungary has increased considerably over the last four years. However, the trade balance is currently in Hungary's favour.

Deputy Minister Fransman called on South African and Hungarian Business to forge partnerships and investment in the key strategic areas linked to Southern Africa and the Continent's development.

In the area of health, experiences and best practices were shared with regard to public health care and the benefits of a National Health Insurance scheme.

In the field of education and higher education, proposed institutional partnerships, scholarships, exchange of students and academics and joint research projects in fields such as medicine and the sciences, were discussed, as well as vocational training opportunities for youth.

With regard to culture, South Africa and Hungary expressed keen interest in renewing its agreement and programme of action on arts and culture and to strengthen cooperation in the preservation of world heritage sites in line with UNESCO's convention on cultural diversity. Strengthening cooperation in music was also proposed.

In an address to the diplomatic community, representatives of the Hungarian Government, Civil Society and Business in Budapest to mark South Africa's Freedom Day celebrations, Deputy Minister Fransman highlighted the commonalities between South Africa and Hungary i.e. that both countries are strategically placed in their respective regions and that therefore, both countries could be a catalyst for development, investment and trade, as well as skills exchange.

South Africa has a long-standing, historical and cordial relationship with Hungary. During the late 70s and 80s, a number of South African students studied in Hungary and formulated an active link between these two countries.

Deputy Minister Fransman stated that "as South Africa celebrates the centenary of the ANC this year, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, we look back on the unparalleled support we enjoyed from Hungary. The attainment of South Africa's freedom in 1994 and transition into a peaceful, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society were achieved due to the support by Hungary."

Historical links between South Africa and Hungary are also due to a strong presence of the Hungarian community in South Africa.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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