On 1st January 2017, a new chapter will begin in the history of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT).
In summer 2016, as part of its efforts to reduce state bureaucracy, the Hungarian government decided that IFAT will cease to exist as a central governmental office as of 31st December 2016. Instead, its role and tasks shall be carried out under the aegis of the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation.
This decision marked a key turning point in a transformation process that already started in December 2014. It allows IFAT to continue its operations in an organizational structure more suited to its professional tasks and changing academic profile.
The Center for Democracy Public Foundation (DEMKK in Hungarian) was established by the Government in 2005. Its two organizational units (legally independent in their own right), namely the Tom Lantos Institute and the International Center for Democratic Transition, were intended to contribute to Hungarian efforts in taking on a more prominent role in international affairs.
It is within the same framework that IFAT will be incorporated as a separate legal entity under the DEMKK from 1st January 2017. The Hungarian Government has amended the articles of association of the DEMKK accordingly.
Following the governmental decisions made in summer 2016, the necessary legal changes have successfully been made. Since the governmental decree on IFAT will expire once it ceases to exist as a central governmental office from 1st January 2017 onwards, the Government has extensively elaborated the foreign policy and foreign trade-related strategic research functions of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is precisely these public tasks that IFAT will continue to undertake as a separate legal entity within the framework of the DEMKK.
According to the unanimous decision of the DEMKK’s Board of Trustees, Ambassador Márton Schőberl, the current Director-General, shall remain in his position at the head of IFAT as of 1st January 2017.
In short: 1st January 2017 marks the start of a new chapter in the history of IFAT. We will continue to support Hungary’s foreign policy and trade goals in a more streamlined and flexible organizational form, with a practically unchanged pool of researchers, in the hope that we can uphold the fruitful cooperation with our existing partners and open towards new ones as well.