Dr. János Bóka, Vice-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies opened the latest event of the Ambassadors' Forum at Ludovika with this renowned quote from German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Special guest of the current event was His Excellency Vladimir Sergeev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation accredited to Hungary. The invited experts, Anton Bendarzsevszkij, director of Pallas Athene Geopolitical Foundation, and András Rácz, Senior Research Fellow of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs also shared their thoughts on the themes highlighted by the ambassador.
Following the introductory of Mr Bóka, His Excellency presented a thematically structured speech focusing on the bilateral relations of Russia and Hungary, the Ukrainian situation, the global fight against terrorism concerning Syria and Iraq, as well as Russia's relations with the United States, the European Union, and NATO.
The conclusions regarding the Russian-Hungarian relations were that despite the fact that there was a 50% decline in trade between the two countries in the past two years, high-level visits in 2015 and 2016 as well as rich cultural relations are proofs of a complex and fruitful cooperation. His Excellency also stated that there is still a substantial potential for further development concerning economic and trade relations. As it was mentioned, cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, e.g. developments in Paks nuclear power plant, is of high importance, as well as regional cooperation. As Vladimir Sergeev explained there is a comprehensive and open foreign policy dialogue between the countries and even though there are issues with disagreements, the two states have a similar approach to most important questions.
The situation in Ukraine, the status of Crimea and the Donetsk Oblast region as well as the global fight against terrorism were topics of great interest among the participating analysts at the panel discussion. The abovementioned topics were discussed from different points of view, the action of NATO and the EU were also discussed from Russia’s viewpoint that differs from that of western countries.
The active discussion that developed among the ambassador and experts along with the activity of the audience clearly shows that the role of Russia as a global super-power in world politics is still followed with great interest as well as the fact that the actions of Russia divide policy makers, experts and public opinion alike.
Among others, participants asked His Excellency on his opinion about the turnout of the US elections, while there were also voices of criticism of Russian’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Regarding the American president-elect, both the special guest of the event and the experts were cautious to phrase strong statements. His Excellency was positive about Donald Trump’s statements of the US-Russian relations so far while he also noted that promises are one thing and what happens after he becomes a president is another. The experts agreed that foreign policy is a weakness of the president-elect, however it is clear that he will be advised by experienced consultants, thus a significant change cannot be expected, and it I too early for euphoria. As far as the Syrian conflict was concerned, Vladimir Sergeev underlined, that Russia urges a political solution, while the experts have highlighted the fact that despite the promises of the Russian president, military presence hasn’t been diminished but intensified in the region.
All these issues clearly show that Russia is a key player in world politics with a significant influence. The Henry Kissinger quote, cited by the moderator in his welcoming speech, describes the situation perfectly: “Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium.”
„Great-Britain is not turning its back on Europe and Hungary.” This was the main conclusion of the last event of the Ludovika Ambassador’s Forum series, the special guest of which was H.E. Iain Lindsay, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Hungary.
The last event of 12 October is considered to be a special one for many reasons. First of all, it took place in the Chapel of the Ludovika building due to the great interest, secondly, it was opened by Prof. Dr. András Patyi, Rector of the University. Mr János Bóka, Vide-Dean for Education at the Faculty of International and European Studies, took the role of the moderator and introduced the special guest of the Forum. Further increasing the uniqueness of the event, Mr Lindsay greeted the guests in Hungarian language, furthermore he honoured the audience with a Hungarian introduction of the current Forum’s topic.
The presence of His Excellency was determined by those significant events that occurred during the past few months in the United Kingdom, namely the referendum taking place on 23 June about the country’s EU membership that resulted in an overall vote to leave the European Union. The result of the referendum has shaken the governments and public opinion of the European states and third countries as well. The so called Brexit already took its economic and political effects right after the vote, however the consequences are going to be remarkable after the two-year-long series of negotiations and the closure of the withdrawal procedure.
Since the abovementioned situation was accompanied by a great attention in Hungary as well, the visit of Mr Lindsay to the National University of Public Service enjoyed a great interest. As Mr Patyi mentioned in his opening remarks, the audience had a chance to get first-hand insight into this complex political issue. Accordingly, the details of the referendum, the viewpoints of the different groups of the society, as well as the presence and future of the United Kingdom and its relationship with European countries and international organisations were discussed during the Forum.
The opening speech of His Excellency was followed by a round table discussion with Prof. Dr. Gergely Egedy, professor of the University and Márton Ugrósdy, researcher of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Ludovika Ambassador Forum series will continue with the Russian Federation as the special guest represented by H. E. Szergejev Vlagyimir Nikolájevics.
Following the opening remarks made by Dr. Gábor Kovács, Vice-Rector for Education at NUPS, H.E. Kosuge reminded that the Japanese-Hungarian friendship dates back 147 year in history, as the official, diplomatic relations with Japan were established by Austria-Hungary in 1869. The relationship remained active until 1914, and entered a new stage after World War I. The two countries managed to exit the shadow of World War II in 1959: since then the dialogue between Japan and Hungary has been without barriers. Hungary has an embassy in Tokyo, and a honorary consular service in and Osaka, whereas Japan’s embassy is located in Budapest. In addition to the diplomatic relations, the two nations are held together through cultural, economic and scientific bonds. Thanks to the nearly 150 Japanese companies operating in Hungary, Japan is considered as one of the most important Asian investors in the country. Japanese capital is primary attracted through the opportunities in the car industry and electronic sector, leading to the employment of about 28.000 Hungarian citizens.
From the political perspective, Hungary has always been an interesting example for Japan – said H.E. Junich Kosuge reminding that the Hungarian democratic transition processes have served with several lessons for the Asian country. That being said, nowadays the two countries’ relationship ought to be examined in an international context, as it has been determined by the efforts made for common goals such as fighting off terrorism, helping refugees, fighting against poverty and the negative consequences of climate change. In addition to these topics, the current Japanese declarations on economic and strategic cooperation include the peaceful utilization of aerospace, the freedom of shipping, the support for the concepts of territorial sovereignty, the promotion of growth and prosperity, and the advancement of research funding and innovation. Furthermore, His Excellency Kosuge pointed out that although these long-term goals are shared by other countries, it should also be noticed that Japan could still not manage to fully conclude World War II, as there is no peace treaty with the Russian Federation nor with the Republic of Korea, thus “Asia is far behind Europe” in this regard.
As for regional integration, unfortunately there are increasingly difficult processes and increasing dangers in sight. Peaceful settlement is hindered by both the debates concerning the South-China Sea and North Korea’s activity. Japan first and foremost promotes international law and condemns all activities that go against international law while supports peace and the economic development of the region.
Since the Netherlands is taking on the rotating presidency of the European Union between 1 January and 30 June, it seemed logical to invite HE Hugo Gajus Scheltema, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Hungary as the first guest of the Ludovica Ambassador’s Forum series this year. In his opening speech he briefly spoke about the programme of the presidency focusing on topics of migration, international security; sound, future-proof European finances and a robust Eurozone; the role of Europe as an innovator and job creator; in addition to advanced policies on climate and energy. Building on a national tradition, besides fostering active civilian participation, the Netherlands EU presidency looks forward to deal with questions that are relevant both to people and small ventures – said Mr. Scheltema.
In his lecture titled “Good governance, transparency and accountability in the Netherlands”, the ambassador pointed out that sustainable democracies are inevitably built on trias politica, the clear separation of powers. Other than horizontal accountability, however, great importance is laid on vertical processes as well. The reason why the Netherlands can be so successful is that its governing bodies view the citizens as partners. According to the Law of Public Access issued in 1991, everyone has the right to retrieve the information on which administrative decisions are based. Relying on facts, trade unions, civil bodies and non-governmental organizations are all provided the chance to have their say in an objective manner regarding the functioning of the authorities. As a result, in 2013, the environmental organisation Urgenda representing more than 900 people sued the Dutch government because of its perceptibly lenient provisions applying to the emission of harmful substances. Although the trial continued for almost two years, it finally saw the government lose under the decision of the court in The Hague which ordered the authorities to reduce the emission rate by 25% in the next five years.
In the follow-up panel discussion, dr. Magdolna Csath, research professor at NUPS, regarded the Dutch example as one to follow, but raised the question whether best practices can be exported and applied in countries that have a radically different setup. The concerns were shared by Kálmán Mizsei, former head of the EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform Ukraine, who said that external demands can often go against the national tendencies, as in the case of Ukraine or Moldova. Gaius Scheltema responded to the concerns by saying that only democracy can pay off in the long run. As he said, transparency is essential to a well-functioning economy, because predictability is one of the main demands of the investors. Dr. Krisztián Kádár, project manager of the Good Governance Report, asked Mr. Scheltema if he agrees with the tripartite classification of the governing structures differentiating between the robust German public administration, the output-oriented Anglo-Saxon legislation and the Nordic interest in transparency. The ambassador said that no models can be viable as they are much too simplistic in nature. As proposed by the moderator dr. János Bóka, associate professor of NUPS, the night concluded in an informal conversation in which members of the audience have joined in as well.
The National University of Public Service organized the second Ambassador’s Forum at Ludovika, this time with H.E. Ilan Mor, Ambassador of the State of Israel in Budapest as the guest of honour on the 18th of June 2015. The event series was initiated by NUPS with the aim of establishing a future meeting place and forum of discussions for representatives of diplomacy and academia.
Following the welcome address of Prof. Dr. András Patyi, Rector of NUPS, H.E. Ilan Mor gave a keynote speech titled “EU-Israel Relations: Constructive Dialogue or Two Monologue?” The ambassador made open remarks about the European Union and touched upon – inter alia – the subject of Arab-Israeli relations.
After the presentation, H.E. Ilan Mor, Dr. Erzsébet Nagyné Rózsa, Head of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at the Faculty of International and European Studies and Dr. Károly Grúber, former Ambassador (Representative to the PSC) in Brussels discussed the mentioned topics in a roundtable session. Dr. Károly Grúber and H.E. Ilan Mor agreed that the bilateral relations between Hungary and the State of Israel are specifically good, with Hungary currently holding the Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. According to H.E. Ilan Mor, however, in certain issues the EU and Israel do not have a proper dialogue. The participants of the roundtable discussion also emphasized the importance of common values within bilateral and multilateral relations.
H.E. Ilan Mor pointed out that the security situation of the State of Israel is constantly changing. Dr. Erzsébet Nagyné Rózsa added that the security environment of Hungary is also under change, in that the pressure of migration and the situation in Ukraine forced Hungary to face new challenges. During the Q&A session, H.E. Ilan Mor shortly touched upon the decision of the United States’ Supreme Court in the Jerusalem passport case.
After the roundtable session, the participants of the Forum carried on with their discussion while enjoying a selection of wine and cheese provided by the Embassy of the State of Israel in Budapest. In addition, they were acquainted with examples of Israeli literature through a book exhibition supported by the Embassy.