On 5 December 2016, H.E. Mr. Zeneemyadar Batbayar, Ambassador of Mongolia, delivered a public lecture at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, entitled «Hungarian-Mongolian “neighborhood”– The Hungarian-Mongolian economic relationship in light of the Eastern Opening». Ambassador Márton Schőberl, Director-General of the Institute greeted the audience, while Zsolt Csutora, Deputy State Secretary for Eastern Opening of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade delivered the opening statement. The following debate was moderated by Anna Fülöp, research fellow of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Márton Schőberl, Director-General, welcomed the audience large in number and spoke about how the Eastern Opening brought the two countries closer.

Zsolt Csutora, Deputy State Secretary for Eastern Opening praised Mongolia as having a “great past, a strong present and an even more beautiful future”. The Deputy State Secretary believes that the legacy of the prosperous relationship could be one of the successes of the Eastern Opening policy because of the ongoing progress in the economic, political, educational, cultural and financial bilateral relations. One of the goals of Hungary is to profit from the best economic opportunities offered by the Eastern-Asian area. On the 29th of May 2015, the Embassy of Hungary was officially re-opened in Ulaanbaatar in the presence of Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. In late January 2016, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary made an official visit to Ulaanbaatar. Zsolt Csutora announced that the Hungarian government will expand the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship program from 100 up to 200 persons. During the 1990s, through the educational co-operation between the two countries, the Hungarian government provided 400 scholarships to Mongolian students to study in Hungary; this was the case of Ambassador Batbayar as well.

The permanent representative of Mongolia highlighted in his public lecture the importance for Mongolia of building good relations with its “neighbors”, based mostly on common cultural and intellectual values. The largest share of Mongolia’s national income originates from the mining industry (the main exported minerals are gold, copper and coal). In the mining industry, during the recultivation period, it will be possible to use more environment-friendly methods with the involvement of Hungarian expertise, thus contributing to sustainable development. H.E. Mr. Batbayar sees great potential in his country’s livestock breeding and agriculture – Mongolia has 70 million livestock. Furthermore, showing many statistical data, he explained how important the development of tourism in his country is, in order to publicize his country and increase its national income. In addition, he stated that, in future, the government of Mongolia will place a greater emphasis on diversification.

Following his public lecture, Ambassador Batbayar answered several questions. Anna Fülöp, the moderator remarked that there is a long-standing tradition in the Hungarian-Mongolian geological, as well as in water management co-operation. Relating to water research and storage, with the help of Hungarian expertise, significant progress was achieved through the construction of a water purification plant. Furthermore, since its independence, the geopolitical status of Mongolia is defined by its place between China and Russia. Nevertheless, Mongolia, through its “third neighbor” policy, is looking for close co-operation with the main Asian, European and North American partners too. His Excellency also explained that during the new IMF negotiations, Mongolia seeks to reach an agreement which will not jeopardize the national development efforts and ongoing projects. In relation to the reconstruction project of the Songino Biocombinat, the Ambassador noted that the current allocation is, unfortunately, not sufficient, but the project is still of utmost importance. Finally, the Ambassador emphasized the importance of sport-, cultural- and water diplomacy, as well as the significance of discovering our common roots, acknowledging them and sharing these experiences with the broader public.