BUDAPEST, Hungary - Speaker of the Hungarian parliament, László Kövér, says Namibia is one of his country’s long-standing friends and that Hungary has started to heighten that friendship through its policy of “opening to the South strategy” which entails increasing economic ties with the African continent and Latin America.
Kövér said this when he hosted his counterpart, Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, in Budapest recently. Katjavivi was on a three-day reciprocal visit to the Hungarian legislature to seek ways in which the two legislatures could work together particularly with regard to parliamentary committee work and the implementation of sustainable development goals, among other important commitments.
Katjavivi held a series of meetings with Hungary’s political leadership including the Hungary Sub-Saharan parliamentary friendship group.
The Namibia-Hungary friendship dates back to the time of Namibia’s struggle for independence. Diplomatic relations were soon established shortly after Namibia attained its freedom.
The Hungarian Speaker noted that Hungary valued its friendship with Namibia and he praised the country’s democracy, adding that it has continued to serve as a beacon of hope in the world. “We consider Sub-Saharan Africa and Namibia in particular as a strategic partner. Our friendship comes a long way. We see Namibia as a model of democratic transition and it’s on this basis that we continue to cement our relations,” said Kövér.
He noted that Hungary has continued to fund Namibian students through a scholarship programme that is intended to equip the youth with the necessary skills needed to develop the country. He was however disappointed by the shortage of students making use of those study opportunities.
“Hungary considers the scholarship programme for Namibian youth to be a priority. Apart from this scholarship we also have many Namibian students studying in Hungary on tuition basis. The scholarship programme funds 10 students annually but unfortunately, this year we were not able to get enough students to fill up those places. Perhaps we need to find out why this low intake,” stated Kövér. Katjavivi noted during the meeting with his counterpart that Namibia was pleased with the friendship that exists and that more efforts were needed by both countries to elevate the existing relations. He stated that Namibia has already started moving in that direction as can be attested with its visa liberalisation efforts that include Hungary.
“We would not only want parliament cooperation but also in other sectors. We would also want Hungary that has vast experience to assist us in the implementation of SDGs and how we can align our goals to that effect. Hungary is one of countries we would want to exempt for visa requirement. It’s the first step and I hope in future we can completely do away with the visa regime. It’s important also that we fully utilise the study opportunities presented to us by Hungary,” said Katjavivi.
The two Speakers further pledged to cooperate in international forums such as the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and United Nations.
The Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister, Zsolt Semjén, who was also pleased with visa liberalization aims, assured Katjavivi during a separate meeting that Hungary was ready to assist Namibia in any area of mutual interest. He noted that Hungary has vast expertise in agriculture and water management. This after Katjavivi had revealed the devastation caused by drought in Namibia. Semjén further noted that visa liberalisation could increase the number of Hungarian visitors and boost Namibia’s tourism potential. “We could look at the areas of agriculture and water management. Hunting is also one of the major sources of income in Hungary. Many tourists go to Namibia and Botswana for hunting. The visa liberalisation will go a long way in boosting tourism. It would be nice if there’s progress in this regard. Hungary is known in the world as a leader in water management, particularly water recycling”, said Semjén.
He further praised Namibia’s nature conservation programme as exemplary promoting co-existence with wildlife, before extending an invitation to Namibia to participate in the upcoming 2021 “One with nature” world of hunting and nature exhibition to be held in Budapest.
Hungary Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Levente Magyar, promised to persuade Hungarian companies to invest in Namibia through the envisaged ambitious government investment programme which is intended to encourage local companies to invest in Africa. “We would love to see Hungarian companies going to Namibia. Through our financial programme, we will be giving non-refundable financial assistance to companies of up to 50% of total investment value to invest in Africa. I will personally make sure that some of these companies look for opportunities in Namibia. We need to involve government agencies of the two countries to realise this. We are ready to do that,” assured Magyar.
*George Sanzila works in the division, Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly.
2019-10-31 07:22:12 | 12 days ago