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Hungary looks east in bid to join Russia-led Eurasian Development Bank


Budapest, Hungary – Hungary plans to become the first EU member state to join the Moscow-based Eurasian Development Bank (EDB).

Hungary ready to start talks to join Eurasian Development Bank

According to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, whose most recent statement echoed previous declarations from government officials, joining the bank will help Hungary expand its investment opportunities and make new inroads in the region’s developing markets.

Speaking from Astana earlier this week, M. Szijjarto added that Hungary’s state-owned Eximbank also plans to open up a $170 million credit facility to boost business ties with Kazakhstan.

Joining the EDB “aims to open up new financing sources for Hungarian firms to help them be even more successful in Eurasian markets,” Szijjarto stated.

Two years ago, Hungarian Finance Minister Mihály Varga had already revealed the government’s plan to join the Russia-led lender, hoping for a full membership by 2020.

Based in Moscow and established in 2006, the Eurasian Development Bank groups Russia and five other former members of the Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus), and seeks to boost trade and further the economic integration of its member states in a number of key sectors.

The IIB precedent

Starting accession talks to become a full member of the Eurasian Development Bank is only the latest sign of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s eastward strategy of diplomatic rapprochement with Eurasian and Asian countries, first and foremost Russia and China.

Hungary is already a member of the International Investment Bank (IIB), another Russian-led banking institution, and managed to relocate its headquarters to Budapest in a controversial move two years ago.

Presented by PM Orban as part of Hungary’s plan to become an important financial hub in Central and Eastern Europe, the move caused controversy and raised a few eyebrows among Hungary’s western allies, concerned the bank would be used as “Putin’s Trojan horse” and a covert for Russian espionage activities at the heart of a NATO and EU member state.