Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman has concluded a successful, two-day working visit to Hungary.
Fransman was in Hungary from 14 - 15 May. According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the objectives of the visit were to consolidate and strengthen political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries.
In addition, the deputy minister's visit also sought to explore further opportunities for cooperation that would address the country's national and regional developmental goals, particularly in the areas of poverty and unemployment; education, research and skills development; improving the quality of healthcare; boosting trade and economic growth and infrastructure development.
"South Africa and Hungary exchanged views on global governance issues of common interest pertaining to multilateral institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, as well as formations such as BRICS and IBSA.
"Outcomes of major UN conferences and summits, including the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP17) and preparations for the Rio Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), were also discussed," DIRCO said.
It noted that during Fransman's meetings with the various ministries of the Hungarian government, academia and business, it was evident that Hungary was increasingly focusing on South Africa and the sub-region as an important developmental partner, with SADC as a strategic link.
Trade, investment, education, skills development, agriculture and mining, amongst others, were identified by South Africa and Hungary as key areas of opportunity for establishing initiatives, partnerships and cooperation.
With regard to trade and economic cooperation, a high-level Joint Economic Commission will be held in Budapest later this year to facilitate the strengthening of economic and commercial relations between the two countries.
Fransman called on South African and Hungarian business to forge partnerships and invest in the key strategic areas linked to Southern Africa and the continent's development.
In the area of health, experiences and best practices were shared with regard to public healthcare and the benefits of a National Health Insurance.
In the field of education, proposed institutional partnerships, scholarships, exchange of students and academics and joint research projects in fields such as medicine and the sciences, were discussed, as well as vocational training opportunities for youth.
With regard to culture, South Africa and Hungary expressed keen interest in renewing its agreement and programme of action on arts and culture and to strengthen cooperation in the preservation of world heritage sites in line with UNESCO's convention on cultural diversity.
South Africa has a long-standing, historical and cordial relationship with Hungary. During the late 70s and 80s, a number of South African students studied in Hungary and formulated an active link between the two countries.
Historical links between South Africa and Hungary are also due to a strong presence of the Hungarian community in South Africa, DIRCO noted.