A new chapter in Hungarian development policy cooperation begins on Friday, said the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Budapest, who is responsible for programmes to help persecuted Christians.
Speaking in English at the Africa Expo, Tristan Azbej stressed that the Hungary Helps Programme has already helped almost a million people in certain countries to create basic living conditions, enabling those who live there to stay and those who have been forced to flee to return.
The event was organized on the occasion of the peer review of Hungary by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year. The results were presented on Friday.
The OECD DAC plays a key role in international development policy, as it prepares international development policy guidelines and recommendations for member countries and monitors their aid policies.
The State Secretary said, Hungary aims to expand cooperation in the south and east. Their strategy up to 2025 aims to address the main challenges facing the international community – he added.
The government aims to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities, said Azbej Tristan.
He said that they are not only focusing on Africa: they are also paying particular attention to the Middle East and the European Union’s neighbourhood.
The State Secretary also spoke about the Hungary Helps Programme and the need to protect Christians under attack by extremists.
Hungary has offered scholarships in sixty countries around the world since the launch of the Hungary Helps Programme in 2017 – Azbej Tristan said.
Pilar Garrido, head of the OECD’s Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, thanked the Hungarian government for its openness during the peer review. The new part of the process, which is now starting, is to put the recommendations into practice, he said.
Among Hungary’s strengths, the report cites a substantial four-fold increase in official development assistance (ODA) by 2021 compared to 2010. This amount now represents 0.29 percent of gross national income (GNI).
Another positive point was that Hungary is a leader in water diplomacy. It mixes diplomatic tools, expertise and development cooperation for sustainable water management.
Hungary’s strength is that it responds to the needs and requests of its partners, and that the government works together with local NGOs – the report highlights.
However, it considers strategic relations with other countries, focusing on long-term consequences and sustainability impacts, as an area for development.
According to the report, Hungary should better clarify certain responsibilities and rethink certain policies that contradict the international community’s efforts towards sustainable development.
In the invitation to the event, it was highlighted that Hungary joined the OECD DAC six years ago, in December 2016, as the 30th member. As part of its commitment to participate in peer reviews, members’ international development policies, systems and programmes in developing countries are assessed on average every 4–5 years.
In the case of Hungary, a peer review was carried out last year, during which the review team visited Hungary and held discussions with relevant government actors, key partners and prominent representatives of the civil society involved in the design and implementation of development policy.