First part of the interview with. H.E. Ambassador of Hungary in the Kingdom of the Netherlands Mr. András Kocsis on Dutch-Hungarian relations, cultural diplomacy and relations in the field of trade, education and science.
Hungary and the Netherlands have had diplomatic relations since 1921, when embassies were opened in both countries, but the relations started much earlier since the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter’s liberation of 28 Hungarian Protestant preachers from slavery in 1676. There were also some other milestones of cooperation between the Netherlands and Hungary in the past?
Dutch-Hungarian relations date back centuries. Already in the 17th century, Hungarian Protestant students went to study theology or law at the universities of Franeker, Groningen, Leiden, Amsterdam and Utrecht. After World War I, approximately 30,000 Hungarian children came to the Netherlands for a short holiday and stayed with a foster family to regain strength. After the 1956 revolution, around 3000 Hungarian refugees settled down in the Netherlands, having contributed to the Dutch economic development and cultural life. Nowadays our countries are allies in the EU, the NATO and also in the UN. Our economic ties are strong: trade and investment relations are one of our most successful areas of cooperation. In recent years, the Netherlands has regularly been one of the most important trading partners for Hungary.
Ambassador Kocsis hands over a Hungarian decoration to Bernard Bot, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs
How many Dutch citizens live in Hungary and what were the reasons to come to Hungary?
The Embassy of Hungary does not have exact information about the number of Dutch citizens living in Hungary. There are approximately 5000 registered Dutch inhabitants according to the Dutch Embassy in Budapest. In a recent article about Dutch citizens living in Hungary published in the Algemeen Dagblad, the author pointed out the low taxes and house prices, space and silence as the main attractions for the Dutch to settle in Hungary.
How big is the Hungarian Community in the Netherlands and when were the main waves of immigration?
According to the latest figures published by the Dutch Central Agency for Statistics (CBS) in 2017, the number of registered Hungarians living in the Netherlands surpassed 23000. In a historical perspective, after the Reformation close contacts developed between the Seven Provinces of the Netherlands and Hungary, a great number of protestant students from Hungary visited the universities of Holland. After World War I, many ‘children trains’ came to Holland out of Hungary with under-nourished kids in order to get them fit again, during and after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 3000 refugees found a new home in Holland. Nowadays there is a growing number of the millennial generation of Hungarians settling in the country with marketable professional skills and education.
By following your monthly newsletter and social media channels, I see that your Embassy is very active in the field of cultural diplomacy. Could you tell us about the most successful events since you became the Ambassador of Hungary?
Our cultural department is a very important contact point for Hungarian cultural professionals. It is involved in almost every Hungarian cultural event that takes place in the Netherlands. By supporting, promoting and organizing these events, our Embassy aims to show the best of what Hungary has to offer, to the Dutch audience. Our main target audience is the Dutch youth and since 2016, each year has had a different cultural focus. 2016 was very much about the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We organized ten events throughout the Netherlands ranging from exhibitions to concerts, with the aim to transfer the knowledge and experiences of the historic event to younger generations. 2017 shone a spotlight on classical music and the famous Kodály concept for musical education. Together with the Liszt Academy in Budapest and the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, we organized beautiful events for Dutch music teachers and children. I am very proud of this multiplier effect; Dutch teachers are enriched with Hungarian expertise, which they later transfer to their pupils. 2018 is a little more like the other years, about bringing young Hungarian bands to the Netherlands. We support festivals such as Eurosonic, The Life I Live and the Embassy Festival, which invite promising Hungarian acts to perform in the Netherlands. We often see these bands return to play on major Dutch festivals. I consider this as a great success and an important feedback on our activities.
Hungarian band Blahalousiana performs at the Embassy Festival in The Hague
The Zoltán Kodály Festival is concluded by a Children’s Choir Day at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague
Dutch exports have risen since Hungary’s accession to the EU in 2004. How many Dutch companies are located in Hungary and in what sectors?
Numerous foreign and multinational companies are present in Hungary. Generating over 760 million EUR in investments in 2015, the Netherlands is the ninth largest foreign investor in Hungary. The most significant Dutch investors in Hungary are Aegon, Bosal, FrieslandCampina, Heineken, NN, Philips, Royal Dutch Shell and Unilever.
In 2015, Forbes published a list of five places in Europe which really matter as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. This is what Forbes said about Budapest: ‘’its capital city is now acknowledged as a prime draw for start-ups, investors and incubators in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region.” Can you provide us with some examples of successful start-ups, ICT companies?
The number of innovative Hungarian ICT and start-up companies with international presence is constantly growing, some examples: Ustream – provides video streaming services to more than 80 million viewers and broadcasters with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Budapest. Prezi – online presentation tool with a special set of graphic and functional tools, in 2010 the company was awarded with the European Seal of e-Excellence Platinum Award. LogMeIn – the application allows the more than 125 million users worldwide to control their computer remotely via a client program, a browser and a mobile device. NNG – navigation software provider present in 190 countries in 50 languages, the fastest growing company in Europe in 2014.
Could you elaborate please on the cooperation between Hungary and the Netherlands in the fields of education and science?
Hungary currently has bilateral science and technology cooperation with 46 countries, from which 37 are intergovernmental and nine are inter-institutional. The National Research, Development and Innovation Office is in charge of coordinating the joint activities. On 7 February 2017, we kicked off a new partnership between the Hungarian University of Pécs and the Business Studies program of the HAN University of Applied Sciences. In May 2017, the Club of Dutch Hungarian Scientists was launched at the initiative of our Embassy.
The Embassy of Hungary kicked-off a new partnership between the Hungarian University of Pécs and the Business Studies program of the HAN University of Applied Sciences
Ambassador Kocsis: @amb_kocsis
Website of the Embassy of Hungary: https://haga.mfa.gov.hu/eng
Hungarian Tourism Office on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/hellohungaryHU/
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