by Anna POPPER, Courtesy of Diplomatic Magazine
Your Excellency, after the highly destructive earthquake in Mexico City, on behalf of the Diplomatic Magazine I would like to express our condolences and solidarity with the Mexican people and with the families of the victims.
Many thanks to you and to all the people, who jointly expressed their regret for the earthquakes in Mexico. Solidarity is the best gift that can be given in this misfortune and my nation appreciates it.
Could You describe the current status of the Mexican-Hungarian relationship?
Political and diplomatic relations are excellent but an optimal level in the economic field hasn't been achieved. Both countries have much to offer and currently we are working on this. Mexico is the main destination of the Hungarian investments in Latin America.
For Mexico, Hungary can constitute an important economic partner in Central Europe. The bilateral cooperation fields are varied: auto parts, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, hydric resources, new technologies and the so-called smart cities. In international forums, we actively participate and maintain similar policies on issues such as climate change and the conservation of water resources. Both governments offer its support for the candidacies in international organizations.
How to develop the economic ties of the two countries?
The 3rd meeting of the Joint Economic Commission Mexico-Hungary will take place in November in Budapest. In parallel, a Mexico-Hungary business forum will be held and we expect the participation of Mexican companies (particularly SMEs) that are interested in cooperating with Hungarian companies.
Mexico is one of the world’s largest economies. What are its main sectors?
Mexico is a relevant actor on the automotive industry and fully integrated in North America. With a strong manufacture sector that has expanded to more and more complex both on technological aspects as well as innovation, complexity and logistics. We are quite strong in the aeronautical industry and have a developed agro-industrial sector. We trade one million US dollars every minute trough our Northern border, where we have a million legal crossings every day that reflect the dynamic of our society and economy.
Tourism is one of our strongest sectors (8.7% of GDP). With more than 34 million visitors last year, Mexico is already the 8th world top destination. We will have received around 6,000 Hungarians visiting our country in 2017, certainly, at the Mexican Embassy we have the challenge to motivate more Hungarians to discover the wide array of options that Mexico offers.
What do You think are the most significant challenges that Your society faces today and the priorities of the Mexican politics as a regional power?
The Mexican society is dynamic and adapts quickly to the changes at global level, a significant percentage of our population is under 30 years, which represents a fundamental workforce for the development of the country. A profound educational reform is currently being implemented to prepare the young people to be more competitive for this new century. This makes our society participate actively in the political, economic and social changes that the country needs.
We have a congress composed of parties with multiple political tendencies. Democracy is an imperative for my country.
In the international arena, we want to have good relations with all nations. Naturally we concentrate a huge part of our activities on the American continent. In fact, we have an important political and economic presence in Latin America.
Mexico is a member of the G20 and the OECD among others. Also in this context, we want to strengthen our relations with the most important economies of the world and to participate on solving the problems that affect the international community. We have also signed free trade agreements (including EU) that link us with 54 different national economies, which makes my country one of the most open economies in the world and ready to work for mutual benefits.
What is the heritage of Mexico from its five great ancient civilizations: the Maya, the Aztec, the Toltec, the Olmec and the Teotihuacan?
The Mexican nation is a direct result from the mestization of European Christian influence and the polytheistic cosmogony of pre-Hispanic civilizations. Mexico was built on that heritage that characterizes us and makes us proud. These great civilizations stand out for their monumental architecture and for their influence in our traditions and everyday lifestyle. The continuity of these civilizations is seen in many aspects of our culture such as our cuisine, national holidays, our version of the Spanish language and the 12 million Mexicans, who belong to different ethnic groups with their native tongue and culture. Mexico's young population has integrated our rich history into contemporary trends such as music, architecture, plastic arts and business.
Not many people know that Mexico is multilingual country.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, the recognition of Amerindian languages as part of the national languages guarantees the right of bilingual education and respect to customs and cultures of indigenous groups. With 120 million inhabitants, Mexico is the largest of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world. It is also relevant to refer to the almost 18 million Mexican and American of Mexican origin living in the United States that constitutes a dynamic community by itself.
The language and cultural identity that characterizes the majority of Latin American countries is also reflected in the reality of peaceful coexistence of the people in that region. The recent development of a group of Spanish-speaking diplomats here in Budapest that includes colleagues from all nations in the world reflects the expanding growth and use of this language.
What are the advantages of the cultural diplomacy that You practice very actively?
Historically, Mexico has sought out to promote its culture in international relations, this is a way to increase its presence in society, to project its values and contribute to coexistence. Nowadays, when the concept of “soft power” is in force in the international strategy of the countries, I would like to emphasize that culture as a means of promoting México is a historical component of our foreign policy and does not seek to impose any power with it. On the contrary, we consider that the understanding between nations passes precisely through the knowledge of others, a path that allows peaceful and constructive solutions to international challenges.
Tell us please, how did You become a diplomat?
I will tell you a personal story: when my wife, who was then only a friend, whom I was infatuated with told me that she would not be able to see me for a prolonged period, because she had to prepare for her entrance to the foreign service, I searched for an opportunity to accompany her in preparation. Her friends suggested that I should tutor them in a few subjects of my expertise at the time, which allowed also me to stay in touch with her. When those lessons ended, they told me that I should apply for entry to the diplomatic service. So, this has been a career for love of my country and my family. My wife is currently the Alternate Representative of Mexico to multilateral organizations in London and we see each other as many times as our agendas allow it and that includes my daughter. She recently started her bachelor studies in London at King’s College, no question that she’s going on to become an International Relations graduate in the future.
As Ambassador to Hungary there is an opportunity to foster the relations that have been historically friendly but requires a greater commercial and cultural boost that will bring our societies closer. I can see many similarities between both countries and we share core values and views about the international scene in many aspects. Increasing the presence of Mexico in Hungary is my main aim.
How do You spend Your leisure time for recharging Your inner batteries?
For many years, I had considered photography as a possible professional option so, to this day I do not like to refer to it as a hobby. It’s a fundamental language that I dedicate time to, almost as much as reading and without doubt Hungarian literature is full of great writers so I have a big challenge waiting me at home.