On 26 February the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) hosted a conference on nuclear and security challenges as well as connectivity issues of Asia with the participation of experts from Japan, Hungary, and Central and Eastern Europe.
In her opening remarks, Her Excellency Ms. Kuni Sato, Japan’s Ambassador to Hungary expressed her gratitude to the organisers of the event. In his welcoming speech, Mr. András Baranyi, Deputy State Secretary for Eastern Relations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, underlined the trust between the two nations and pointed out that Japanese car manufacturer, Suzuki, had been the first multinational company that established a production base in Hungary after the fall of communism. Mr. Márton Ugrósdy, director of IFAT also emphasized the importance of trade and investment relations and declared that without security there is no trade and real economic connections.
The first panel discussion of the conference focused on nuclear challenges in Northeast Asia. Panellists pointed out that the South China Sea is geopolitically very important for Japan while China intends to change the status quo by small scale actions. During the discussion, participants stated that there is a significant need for establishing rules for the development of nuclear warheads as since the Cold War there had been no real agreement in this field. Experts underlined that China is also developing its nuclear capabilities. It was discussed that the US seeks the denuclearisation of North Korea while in its declarations the North Korean regime refers to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The dispute on the short run seems unresolvable. On the other hand, two developed countries in the region, Japan and South Korea have no intention of developing nuclear weapons although they possess the technical capability.
The second panel analysed how the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept could enhance connectivity between Europe and Asia. Experts agreed that the rule of law is a key feature in this field, however, it is important how to define the rules. Nevertheless, the meaning of rule can be ambiguous. Language barriers and different interpretations can limit the effectiveness of this approach. It was discussed that China had begun to act like a superpower and had tried to establish an order in line with its interests. Human rights and transparency were mentioned as problematic issues. Panellists called for standards for high infrastructure projects, raising questions on what kind of future benchmarks would be developed and how they were going to be validated. The overall goal is to raise the bar in terms of quality of infrastructure development projects. In terms of connecting Asia and Europe, participants called for greater engagement with Central and Eastern Europe.