By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
“We fully support Hungary’s initiative on Danube-Mekong cooperation and will explore the possibility of having concrete cooperation in the near future,” Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said after meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi in Budapest on Tuesday.
During his official visit on Monday and Tuesday, there were reports that the Danube River was rising fast and Budapest was preparing for a flood that could possibly last for 10 days.
“Hungarian experts are keen on this matter although it is very rare that the Danube would overflow and cover Budapest,” Surapong said.“They can estimate the level and duration of the flood.”
Like the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, the Danube is an international river in Europe. For such waterways, water utilisation and water-related disaster management require cooperation among riparian states.
Hungary and many countries in the Danube basin have long experience in water and river management, which Thailand and countries in the Mekong basin could learn from.
Hungary sent representatives to the Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai last month and invited Thailand to join the Budapest Water Summit in October to continue the dialogue and exchange views on water management.
Martonyi urged Surapong to raise the issues of climate change and energy at the Asean ministerial meeting in Brunei late this month to forge cooperation between Asean and the European Union.
The two foreign ministers discussed plans for agreements on prisoner transfers and investment promotion.
Surapong invited Hungarian investors to participate in the government-sponsored Bt2-trillion development mega-project in Thailand as Hungary has expertise in many fields such as railway systems.
“I told them that investment in growing Asian economies like Thailand might help the Hungarian economy recover from the European crisis,” he said.
Surapong led a delegation of various academic and research agencies to meet with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to seek support on research and development.
Hungary pledged to grant 15 scholarships to Thai students to study in various fields in Hungary, notably medicine and science.
“If we want to be a medical hub, we should have our physicians study in various regions,” he said. Among Asean countries, Malaysia has plenty of medical students in Hungary but Thailand has few.