Look more actively for potential partners in the Russian regions, is the message to Hungarian investors from the Russian Ambassador to Hungary. According to the Ambassador, there is huge potential for bilateral co-operation in high-tech, space exploration, the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical technologies. Interview with Sergejev Vladimir Nikolajevits.
Vladimir Putin’s visit to Hungary was covered extensively by the international media. What was especially important for you Russians in those high level talks?
- Durable political dialogue is important to Russia, even if there are no unresolved problems in the bilateral relations. The same also applies to our President’s visit in February, in the course of which an objective ‘clock adjustment’ took place in the key aspects of bilateral relations and international policy.
How much can the changing, and clearly improving, Russian-Hungarian relations alter or shape Hungary’s image for Russians?
- Some people may be surprised, but the image about Hungary or the other countries of the region has never really degraded much in Russian eyes. The regular relations between the Governments of our countries create a positive background for co-operation in other spheres of bilateral relations, too. The improving relations between the Russian regions and Hungary as well as the cultural and other exchanges fall into that category. Naturally, it that improves the, already positive, image of Hungary in the eyes of the Russians.
Many people in Europe today consider Russia to be a dangerous and aggressive country. How do you counter that, is Russia planning a ‘charm offensive?’
- Russia is open to dialogue with any county or international organisation that is willing to act with respect to international law and our mutual interests, in the spirit of equal partnership. I can assure you that the active spread of the stereotype of the Russian threat or the aggressive empirical ambitions of our country is nothing but a targeted campaign by certain well-known political forces and the media serving them. We must admit that, unfortunately, such forces also exist in Hungary, despite the relationship between our countries that proves it is possible to develop mutually advantageous, future focussed, fair and progressive relations with a reasonable and respectful approach.
Hungary is part of the European Union and therefore Russian-Hungarian relations are directly related to co-operation between Russia and the EU. What kind of European Union would be in the interest of Russia?
- As the President and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation have stressed on a number of occasions, Russia is interested in a strong, flourishing and independent European Union, which adopts its decisions independently of any external factors and which is willing to act objectively and reasonably in building its relationships with Moscow, with mutual respect of each other’s interests. I am sure that our partners in Brussels and in other European capital cities are well aware of our approach.
How important is Europe to Russia because, as a Eurasian great power, it maintains direct relations with dynamically developing regions such as the People’s Republic of China or India, which are ahead of Europe?
- In terms of ethnographical history, culture and civilisation, Russia is an integral part of Europe. That is a scientific fact, which has never been questioned. At the same time, Russia also has a special feature in that a considerable part of its territory is situated in Asia, making it a Eurasian power in geopolitical terms. That is why the historic, active co-operation with Europe does not preclude our endeavours to build equally fruitful, pragmatic and mutually beneficial relations with our Asian neighbours, including the People’s Republic of China and India you mentioned and countries such as Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and others. In relation to the European Union, it is clear that we are destined to exist side by side and, as we all know, a bad peace is better than a good war, and good neighbourliness is even better.
In his press statement, Vladimir Putin underlined co-operation in the high-tech sector. In theory, there many initiatives in that area. What would you suggest Hungarian companies and research centres do in order to find partners in Russia?
- They should look for potential partners more actively in the Russian regions, the investment potential and reliability of which are already well known in Hungarian business circles. They should especially do so because there are many projects implemented with bilateral co-operation in the high-tech sector. In addition to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, reviving co-operation in space exploration, the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical technologies are worth mentioning. As regards the practical issues of building business relations, I advise to all those interested to contact the Russian foreign trade representation in Hungary and the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Although, the latter organisation does not have an office in Budapest, it has still preserved the relations it built with Hungarian partner organisations over many years.
You have visited a number countries and regions in Hungary. Have you a favourite town or a favourite Hungarian food?
- There are truly many interesting and beautiful places in Hungary, though as I live and work in Budapest, I believe that Budapest is one of the most beautiful and liveable cities of the world. I also learned in Budapest that the Hungarian cuisine is not much different from Russian. My favourites are goulash soup and fish soup. Those may not be ideal in a modern diet but they are both very tasty and irresistible.