Viktor Orbán on a diplomatic mission in Mongolia?

Hungarian opposition papers usually have a jolly time making fun of Viktor Orbán’s slim pickings when it comes to making fancy state visits to countries that, from the vantage point of Budapest, don’t seem especially important. Certainly not important enough to visit with an entourage of sixty or seventy people, including five cabinet ministers and about fifty businessmen. This was certainly the situation when the prime minister’s office announced on January 18 that Viktor Orbán would spend three days in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital.

For Hungarians, Mongols will always be associated with the visit they paid to Hungary in 1241-1242, with devastating consequences. Their brief conquest of large parts of the kingdom is considered one of the many tragedies that have befallen Hungary over the centuries. Otherwise, most Hungarians know little about the country, except perhaps that there are more horses than people in Mongolia. This vast country has only three million inhabitants. Although 30% of the Mongols are still nomadic herders, in recent years the country’s extensive deposits of copper, coal, tin, tungsten, and gold have emerged as a driver of industrial production. Mining now contributes 22% to the GDP and agriculture only 16%. Yet Mongolia is a poor country where 22% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. In 2011 GDP per capita was $3,100. Because of the boom in the mining sector, Mongolia had high growth rates in 2007 and 2008 (9.9% and 8.9%), but since then, with the world financial crisis and the commodity bust, its economy has slowed substantially. In 2015 GDP growth was only 2.3% and inflation was 8.9%. As for the future, analysts are not exactly sanguine. They predict slower growth due to drought-affected harvests and tight monetary and fiscal policies. The country is riddled with corruption and graft is endemic. The judiciary is vulnerable to political interference. In brief, it is a country where Viktor Orbán would feel at home.

After the announcement of the impending visit of the prime minister to Mongolia, 444.hu reported that Viktor Orbán had signed an agreement for Hungary to lend $25 million to Mongolia through the state-owned Eximbank. The money will be spent on the reconstruction of the Songino Bio Kombinat, which apparently Hungarians built back in the socialist period. The Bio Kombinat produces veterinary medicine, which is of vital importance to Mongolia’s livestock. This “financial assistance” package met with mixed emotions in Hungary. 444.hu wondered why Mongolia would need a loan from Hungary while others felt that this money could be used more profitably at home.

A quick look at Hungarian-Mongolian relations in the last couple of years indicates that the Orbán government has far-reaching economic plans as far as Mongolia is concerned. In October 2014 a Mongolian Cultural Institute was established at ELTE in Budapest, which was opened by President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj. On January 1, 2015 Hungary reopened its embassy in the Mongolian capital, and in April President János Áder visited Ulaanbaatar. In May, after a visit of Péter Szijjártó to Mongolia, Magyar Hírlap triumphantly announced that “Mongolia will be Hungary’s new technological target country.”

On January 25 the large Hungarian delegation arrived at Genghis Khan Airport. The temperature, a bone-chilling -32C, didn’t prevent the usual military fanfare, part and parcel of a state visit, from taking place. After meeting with Prime Minister Chimedin Saikhanbileg, Orbán as usual was full of praise for both the host country and Hungary which, according to him, has been thriving in the last few years. In fact, it, along with other eastern European countries, is the engine of the European Union’s economic growth. Both Mongolia and Hungary are successful countries which should join forces. “We have returned,” he said, referring to the earlier closing of the Hungarian embassy in Ulaanbaatar, because Hungary under his guidance has created an entirely new social and economic regime. He specifically noted that 400 Mongolian students have studied in Hungary. I assume that this number includes those who spent time in Hungary during the socialist period. In turn, the Mongolian prime minister welcomed the reopening of the embassy, a gesture that shows that “Hungary considers bilateral relations with Mongolia important.” From his speech we learned that Hungary has doubled the number of scholarships to Mongolian college students, from 100 to 200.

Viktor Orbán and Chimedin give a press conference after their talk

Viktor Orbán and Chimedin give a press conference after their talk

On the surface, these conversations seem to have been dull, but we learned from Péter Szijjártó that Viktor Orbán and his foreign minister Péter Szijjártó wanted to achieve something more than expanding business opportunities in Mongolia. They would like to use Mongolia as an intermediary between Russia and the European Union. While the two prime ministers talked about the economic successes of their countries and the advisability of cooperation, Szijjártó had a conversation with Foreign Minister Lundeg Purevsuren. After the meeting Szijjártó revealed that the two men had discussed the chances of “pragmatic cooperation” between Russia and the European Union. Mongolia could be a great help. According to Szijjártó, it is in the interest of Europe to develop cooperation between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. “The earlier concept of a free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok was never more important than now.” Mongolia signed a partnership agreement with the European Union and is in the middle of negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) for a similar partnership. Therefore Szijjártó asked his Mongolian colleague to use his good offices between the EU and the AEEU. I consider this opening gambit by Szijjártó a naïve move leading nowhere.

As for the actual business deals, the results are meager. While Hungary lent $25 million to Mongolia, the Hungarians signed business ventures amounting to $40 million. But there were many future plans that may or may not materialize. Miháy Varga, minister of national economy, held conversations with the Mongolian finance and industrial ministers. According to him, “decidedly good cooperation may develop in food processing, construction, transportation, alternative energy, and even in mining.” They specifically talked about selling Hungarian buses to Mongolia. Earlier attempts at increasing trade and business opportunities with other Central Asian countries brought no results. Perhaps Mongolia will be different, but I doubt it.

January 26, 2016
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Guest

London Calling!

Mongolia has a population of 2,800,000

That’s 40,000 per delegate!

That’s a loan of 9 Euros per person –

or 8 Euros per horse.

Yes Hungary will be the engine that drives the EU out of recession!

A great investment there!

Can we know how much will be spent on this jolly?

Regards

Charlie

Andras Hirschler
Guest

Just to correct a minor mistake: The given name of the Minister for National Economy is Mihály, not János.

Paul
Guest

Reading this, an odd memory popped up. On one of my many failed attempts to improve my Hungarian attended a Summer School at Debrecen Egyetem some years ago (2009?). And attending this school was a woman from Mongolia – the only Mongolian (as far as I know) I have ever met.

Although, as odd as that sounds, those schools do attract some unexpected people. On that one there were also a couple from Japan, who struggled in English, let alone Hungarian (the course was taught in English), and a Russian woman who spoke one of the Ugric(?) languages (and who thought Putin was the son of God!).

Paul
Guest

I don’t post much these days, so I have only just discovered you can no longer edit your posts!!

Guest

Paul, you have to register and re-register regularly via wordpress e g.

Not too much OT:
Maybe a week ago there was an interesting documentation on Mongolia (on 3SAT if I remember correctly). The contrast between those Nomads and the modern, worldly capital Ulanbator was fantastic.

One shouldn\’t forget that the country is really big and sparsely populated – while here in Hungary students go home to their families over the weekend via railway, in Mongolia they do this maybe once a year – because it\’s more than a thousand kilometers and the roads are, well …

PS:
I\’m also a guest – but I can edit it seems, strange.
So there are two types of guests now, registered and unregistered – which can\’t edit?

Guest

Just an FYI regarding posting… For the first time today since I did not enter HS by tapping the \’W\’ icon I received an error message blocking my entire post.

The message came after I entered my user id and email on the fly. Something about it being \’invalid\’. I have found that upon entering HS if I immediately click on the \’W\’ icon prior to posting I don\’t have a problem posting. But I at times think something is going on with paragraphing. They don\’t show up when I submit. Perhaps it has something to do with my particular setup to HS here.

Guest

Re: \’ As for the future, analysts are not exactly sanguine. They predict slower growth due to drought-affected harvests and tight monetary and fiscal policies. The country is riddled with corruption and graft is endemic. The judiciary is vulnerable to political interference. In brief, it is a country where Viktor Orbán would feel at home\’

Allegedly Mongolia is a democracy. However it would appear the country also has its issues in trying to move its development along since the big boys like Russia and China see Mongolia as great potential goldmine when it comes to industry. Mongolia has to try to manage that concern to retain its independence from outside pressure. Looks that Orban wants to get in at the ground floor. Mongolia I think now has to worry about another country licking its chops at the opportunity to \’feast\’ on the nation. For from what we have already seen whatever Orban touches arguably goes under say a \’reformation\’.

Member

The site is currently experiencing some problems with posting comments. The problem only exist if you are not logged in. I am looking into the issue.

Guest

Thanks Some1. I hope you don’t get ‘Data Poisoned’ as you look at issues…;-)….

Member

When traveling East, I always anticipate some ridiculous statement from the cherished leader. That was the case with Egypt’s El-Sisi, Kazakhstan you name it. To my recollection, this time he said that the Hungarian people have no relatives in the West. He alluded that through the Huns, Magyars and Mongolian are somehow related. Wow.
By now, all those quotes and comments almost entirely disappeared from the press. Not surprisingly, his vast entourage had no space for a single “independent” journalist. Well, he never has.
Today I could find only one quote here, comments like “let him stay there forever with his relatives” also have gone. All.
http://magyarhirlap.hu/cikk/46039/Orban_Visszatertunk_Attila_sikeres_nepehez
PS: He forgot his hat home for -32C, that was his another “hit”.

Guest

Matolcsy said Hungarians are related because one in three Hungarian babies have pink spots on their derrières!

He was referring to the ‘Mongolian Spot’ which has no credible meaning in any science.

Member

Dear Commenters, I am working on some issues that caused some problems with the blog. I have contacted some of the “feature providers” in the past. Now when I am looking at some of the newer settings, I can see that some of the past problems have been addressed. Now, I have to turn on and off some new gadgets. If you experience any problems, please try to reply here. Of course if you cannot comment, you would not be able to that, but I am also trying with an “unregistered” account, and hoping to resolve most of the problems.

Guest

Thanks for your efforts, some1!
Now I\’ll try \”something\” …

PS:
I logged in via wordpress and I can edit, but it still says \”guest\” …

PPS:
At least those annoying backslashes have disappeared.

Guest

No, after the \”second\” edit they appeared again – crazy.

Guest

Who paid for that entourage of sixty or seventy people, including five cabinet ministers and about fifty businessmen. – were those businessmen (surely all Fidesz-leaning …) invited by the government?
If some took their wives/partners too it might have been more than a hundred people, three nights plus flights in business class, around a million €?
The delegation that Mrs Merkel took to China was smaller …

Member

I know. I am not sure what’s up with the backlashes……

Member

Now I’ll try ”something” …

test
Guest

Test

Member

Guest Comment error is fixed!

Member

Now, the program will recognize your email, even if you are not logged in with WP or Discuss. Unfortunately even though it will show you as member, if you are not logged in with Facebook, WP or Discuss, you will not be able to edit your posts. They are working on this.

bimbi
Guest

“The country is riddled with corruption and graft is endemic. The judiciary is vulnerable to political interference. In brief, it is a country where Viktor Orbán would feel at home.”

Today’s blog entry was a pleasure to read, but especially for the above classic. Succinct, to the point.

Ya wouldn’t read about it… …except that you would. Now we have the

“OLAF says Hungary misappropriated $9.7 million worth of anti-fraud funds”
http://budapestbeacon.com/public-policy/olaf-says-hungary-misappropriated-9-7-million-worth-of-anti-fraud-funds/31323
with Johnny Lazar with his nose stuck well into the corruption trough!

Observer
Guest

Test.

Member

Well, it did not show you as member… I give up. lol But at least you can post.
I am testing some stuff here: it’s “quote”

Member

test

Guest

I\’ve signed in with wp – now let\’s see what happens!
So I\’m still a guest – with editing power at least!

And after the second edit, what happens?
Fourth edit – really strange …
Return of the backslashes !

Ron
Guest

Well this is interesting, the next port of call is Indonesia, where they will sign an agreement in fisheries and aquaculture and granting 50 full scholarships in Hungary.

http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/102809/indonesia-views-hungary-as-gateway-to-eu-c-europe

Further, Hungarian ambassador to Azerbaijan Imre Laszloczki has made a visit to Ganja city, meeting there with the city’s mayor Elmar Valiyev.

Laszloczki in turn mentioned that students from all over the world receive education at Hungarian universities, noting that 20 places are available for Azerbaijani students. http://en.apa.az/xeber_hungarian_ambassador_visits_ganja_238541.html

Student from all over the world except Hungarians.

Interesting part is that all countries they visit are friendly to Russia and co-operate military wise one way or another.

Alternatively, VO is looking for a house after his “retirement” or cheap holiday.

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