In 2022, Belgium and Hungary celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations. On February 20, 1922, the Hungarian Ambassador, Count Olivér Woracziczky, presented his credentials to the Belgian Foreign Minister Henri Jaspar. This was the culmination of a process that had already begun in 1921 when Belgium opened a legation in Budapest.

The ties between our two countries go back much further. One important element in our common history is the so-called “children’s trains”, whereby Belgium, out of solidarity, took in 20,000 Hungarian children in Belgian families just after World War I. The children came by train from Hungary to our country to recuperate after the suffering of the war. An exhibition about this topic is currently running in the Historical Museum of Budapest.

After World War II and the Hungarian uprising of October 1956, Belgium offered welcome and shelter to some 7000 Hungarian refugees. This partly explains why there is still a large Hungarian-Belgian community in our country today. The most famous among them is the Belgian-Hungarian economist Alexandre Lamfalussy, founder of the European Monetary Institute, the forerunner of the European Central Bank. For this reason he is considered one of the fathers of the euro.

King Albert II and Queen Paola paid a State visit to Hungary in 2002, then the Hungarian President Sólyom in turn paid a State visit to Belgium in April 2008. Hungary’s accession to NATO in 1999 and to the EU in 2004 brought a new impetus to our bilateral ties. As a result, our trade relations also improved at a rapid pace. Many Belgian companies found their way to Hungary for major investments. Belgium is now one of the ten largest investors in Hungary. Both countries are very open economies, which is why we are more aware than anyone else of the enormous advantages the single European market offers us. In the second half of 2010, Belgium held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in trio with Hungary and Spain. This cooperation in trio will be effective again in 2023-2024, when Hungary will take over from Belgium in mid-2024.

Looking to the future, this 100th anniversary is above all a great opportunity to further strengthen the bonds of friendship between our countries and citizens. As EU partners, we look forward to tackling the many challenges within the EU together, in a constructive understanding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès: “let us take advantage of the centenary that we are celebrating together to reflect on the deep, historical ties between our two countries, which share a rich history and culture and are strongly linked economically. Let it also be an opportunity for dialogue among partners and friends. Friends who can openly discuss what they disagree about. Partners, too, who must share responsibility for our European project, based on common values and principles.”