Eurasia Forum kicks off in Budapest
The two-day Eurasia Forum, under the motto Transitions for Sustainability, kicked off in Budapest on Thursday morning, with more than 50 speakers from 15 countries attending the fourth edition of the conference.
Eurasia Forum kicks off in Budapest

Eurasia Forum kicks off in Budapest

Photo: Róbert Hegedüs
Mariann Őry 23/11/2023 13:13

The two-day Eurasia Forum, under the motto Transitions for Sustainability, kicked off in Budapest on Thursday morning, with more than 50 speakers from 15 countries attending the fourth edition of the conference.

In his opening speech, György Matolcsy, Governor of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB), the central bank of Hungary, recalled that with the Forum, the central bank has built a new framework for Eurasian dialogue and understanding between Asia, China and the Western world. He stressed that Eurasia and the concept of sustainability are two sides of the same coin, inseparable from each other, both necessary to build a win-win-win-win world order.

Sustainability, according to the Governor, means restoring harmony with nature, creating balance in our societies, ensuring access for all to new technologies and building a stable and balanced financial order.
György Matolcsy (Photo: Róbert Hegedüs)
György Matolcsy stressed that we need to reap the benefits of digitalisation, but we also need sustainability in technology, which means taking advantage of new technologies while keeping them in safe hands - for example, while artificial intelligence (AI) will contribute to our well-being in all areas of life, it is important to avoid its dangers. On energy, he stressed the need to accelerate the transition from the old energy mix to new sustainable energy sources, notably solar energy. "China is ahead of Europe and the world in the energy transition, but all countries need to take steps to accelerate the process to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, climate change," he said.

According to the central bank governor, Hungary is an intellectual hub within the Eurasian Connectivity and thus also within the Belt and Road Initiative. He stressed that knowledge sharing is essential to accelerate the transition, the most important resource for creating a win-win-win-win world order.

He also highlighted the historical cyclicality, stressing that the five-hundred-year Atlantic era is being replaced by the Eurasian era.
Mihály Varga (Photo: Róbert Hegedüs)
The government's work over the past decade has made Hungary the gateway to Europe and Asia, as confirmed by the increasing flow of investment from the East, said Finance Minister Varga Mihály. He stressed that "the government is also putting Hungarian interests first in economic policy, so instead of building blocs, it is promoting connectivity and broad cooperation between sovereign, independent countries".

In connection with Hungary's role in the Western alliance systems, Mihály Varga recalled that Hungary joined NATO as a defence organisation, and accordingly supports peace in Ukraine, not war. He also stressed that Hungary rejects political centralisation in the European Union. He recalled that Hungary is dependent on Russian energy resources due to its geographical location, but does not want to cut this link, but to diversify it by using other Asian sources, as it would not make sense to replace one dependency with another.
Wu Hongbo (Photo: Róbert Hegedüs)
Wu Hongbo, the Chinese government's special representative for European affairs, underlined China's commitment to peace, sustainability and multilateral cooperation. He said it was shocking that the international community could not stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Turning to the issue of international cooperation, he criticised phenomena such as unilateralism, protectionism and zero-sum thinking (i.e. the idea that in a game, as much as one side wins, the other loses). All these phenomena, he said, threaten multilateral cooperation. He noted that some big countries are abusing the concept of national security, creating new risks under the banner of derisking, and hampering cultural and technological exchanges under the banner of decoupling between the Chinese and Western economies. As he said, an open world economy is needed, which is why China is firmly opposed to these Western efforts. He also stressed China's commitment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to helping developing countries eradicate poverty and to making the fight against climate change a priority. Wu Hongbo said that we must work together for world peace and prevent the world from being dominated again by the Cold War mentality and zero-sum approach.
Sung-han Kim (Photo: Róbert Hegedüs)
Sung-han Kim, Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies, University of Korea and former National Security Advisor to the President of the Republic of Korea, spoke about South Korea's contribution to international development and peace. He argued that international relations need inclusiveness and reciprocity, i.e. cooperation that is open to all, sustainable and mutually beneficial.

He said it is also important for South Korea to diversify its supply of strategic raw materials, as resources and data have become weapons, and to reduce its dependence on individual countries.
Cai Xuejun (Photo: Róbert Hegedüs)
Cai Xuejun, CEO of China's Silk Road Fund, underlined the fund's commitment to open cooperation and greening. He pointed out that they have also increased sustainable investments in digital infrastructure, renewable energy and health. He also highlighted the importance of the transition to green energy. Cai Xuejun said that science, technology and innovation are the drivers of sustainable development. Like the previous speakers, he said that geopolitical tensions were hampering connectivity, but China would continue to promote multilateral cooperation. He also pointed out that Hungary and China have a stable cooperation in areas such as electric vehicles, battery production and digital infrastructure.

Following the high-level opening, the Eurasia Forum will feature panels on finance, technology, geopolitics, economics and education-innovation, with distinguished speakers from Hungary and abroad. The conference can be followed live on the MNB's YouTube channel. Details of the individual panels will be reported later on the Eurasia page, and you can follow our short reports on our social media pages.

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