Former Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy. Photo: Wu Gang
By Zuo Xuan
Despite the world economic crisis, Hungary, where the capital Budapest has more Chinese immigrants than any other nationality, has no plans to close its doors to Chinese labor and goods, says the country’s former prime minister.
Peter Medgyessy, 66, who was in office from May 2002 to September 2004, said the free market and Hungary’s openness to other cultures are fundamental values in his nation.
He was in Beijing to promote a Chinese language edition of his autobiography, Polgar a Palyan (A Citizen on a Political Road) and spoke with the Global Times.
“Hungarians have been open to the world for centuries,” he said. “Our country is like a logistical center for business between Asia and Western Europe … We don’t have any plans to close up because we know very well that the work of foreign people is an indispensable complement to our own workforce.”
Many Chinese workers in Hungary are in the trade or service industries, both severely affected by the financial slowdown. But Medgyessy said the country has big economic development plans that will need Chinese labor.
“We are going to build an airport and distribution center for Chinese goods in the west of the country and a huge tourist attraction on Balaton Lake, the biggest fresh water lake in Europe. Both the projects will offer jobs to Chinese immigrants in Hungary,” he said.
Eastern European countries have witnessed rapid development in recent years. Yet a large reliance on foreign investment and the free market made them vulnerable to the domino effect of the economic crisis.
In Hungary, foreign debts accounted for half of the GDP in 2008. The world watched to see if emerging markets in Eastern Europe would set the western European financial system on fire again if the debts were not paid.
“The solution to the current economic problem is to encourage immediate consumption,” Medgyessy said. “There has been much debate in Europe and the United States as how to stimulate the economy. The European Union has provided help to small countries to relieve the concerns. Now I think the primary tasks are to fix the banking and insurance systems. ”
While disclaiming the health of the political systems in Asia and Hungary, Medgyessy underscored the advantage of the systems during a crisis.
“Many Asian countries, such as China and India, abide by a strict principle of authority. They have different thinking habits than us … (but) I believe the traditions shaped by that philosophy enable them to see farther than us and to make long-term plans for social endeavors … that is what European countries, Hungary included, can learn from,” Medgyessy wrote in his autobiography.