• 2015-03-05

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your attention and interest towards the actual developments in Hungary and in the Hungarian-Estonian bilateral relations. Having read the article, ,Estonia  and Hungary: a very Finno-Ugric feud” published on 14th February, I felt however a little bit disturbed and disappointed. I have no doubt that you also support the good contacts between Hungary and Estonia which are really excellent and in many aspects they are formulated by Hungarians and Estonians without any participation of governmental bodies. Of course we do not have to agree on the internal situation of Hungary or in some other issues, but I cannot leave without comments some errors of that article. I will only focus on facts.

Needless to remind anyone that Hungary and Estonia are democratic states, sharing the same values, members and reliable allies in the EU and the NATO, the freedom of expression and the freedom of press is guaranteed in both states. Moreover, the Fenno-Ugric kinship gives the chemistry to our ties.

Maybe it is hard to argue with opinions but in case of the facts it is easier to point at if they are misinterpreted or simply ignored. Let’s see for example the closure of the embassies in Tallinn and Budapest. The closure of the Hungarian embassy had a very pragmatic reason, that’s due to financial measurements that are being taken in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We have also heard of all types of interpretations when it comes to: why Hungary have closed the embassy in Tallinn, but I can assure you, it’s pure, pure financial reason that we had to close the embassy. There is a new structure in the foreign ministry, with a special emphasis on enhancing foreign trade, cultural diplomacy, and also the classical type of diplomacy. We are looking for the the countries where we can gain more investment from and also to help our small and medium-sized entrepreneurs to set foot in other  countries. And due to this reason, there was an overall review where to open and where to close embassies.

Taking into consideration all of these, we have a strong intention to continue to be present in Estonia, and we do hope that of the closure of the embassy will not affect our very good political, cultural and economic relations with Estonia. In this respect, we have a cultural institute in Tallinn, we are going to strenghten the work of the institute, to work there on the cultural level. We have accredited our ambassador in Helsinki to Estonia, so we have an ambassador there, not residing in Tallinn but in Helsinki, and we have two extra diplomats in Helsinki covering the political and economic affairs. This is what we could do in order to counterbalance the loss of the embassy. But I have to admit that it was not an easy decision. So anyone who sees the closure of the embassy as a kind of gesture to a third partner is simply wrong.

Kuusisaa r enkuja 6.  00340 Helsinki     Tel:  (358-9) 484-1 44  Fax: (358-9) 480-497

The Hungarian engagement in the Baltic region remains strong. For example, if autumn this year you will hear and see fighter jets flying over the sky above your office, you should know that they are those Hungarian planes which, in the framework of the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission, protect the airspace of our friends in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  I may draw the attention of those who says that Hungary is weakening the unity in the EU and in the NATO to these facts.
We have also very close contacts with Estonia when it comes to NGOs,   educational cooperation, we have quite succesful cooperation against the organised crime, I don’t see any changes. The same applies to the highest level of Hungarian politics. The bilateral consultations are frequent and we have almost similar views in many aspects in the EU or in the NATO. The special situation of the energy supply and the energy security in Hungary is different from that of Estonia so we have to find the solution  and it would be a big mistake to misinterpret  our steps. In this aspect, we are pragmatic as we have no other option.

It was sometimes amusing to read your article’s thoughts on certain historical aspects. Concerning Romania or Slovakia and Serbia, I must say, we never had such good and close contacts with our neighbours  and if you ask them, I am sure that they agree. The Fenno-Ugric  kinship  is alright, thanks! It  feels  well  and  and has  no  reason  to  be  afraid  of  being  neglected.  For  example  the Hungarian Parliament in 2013, on the basis of an Estonian proposal, declared the third Saturday of each October as the day of the Finno-Ugric kinship in Hungary.

World War II and its heritage in Hungary is also mentioned in the article. I think it is enough to quote  Hungarian  president,  Janos.  Ader  who  remarked,    that  Auschwitz  is  Hungary’s  largest cemetery. He said so on the international March of the Living memorial event held at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in last April.
I think the Hungarian domestic political situation can only be understood properly if one is aware of the historical background also and takes an opportunity to spend some days in Hungary. Should you be interested, I am happy to offer my help in compiling an interesting programme to you or any journalists of The Baltic Times wishing to visit Budapest and to get some information about the background reasons and motivations of government decisions directly from the decision makers themselves. You are also more than welcome to my residence in Helsinki for a personal meeting in order to help you to create a more balanced  view  about my country. Budapest  and Hungary in general has a wide range of cultural treasures to offer for visitors and I am sure that it could be also very interesting for you to get acquainted with our remarkable economic recovery recently.

Best regards,
Kristof Forrai
Hungarian Ambassador to Finland


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