The Hungarian EU Presidency has managed to fulfil its organisational and logistical tasks, at a high standard and also in a cost-efficient way, Ferenc Robák, Government Commissioner for the Presidency’s operative management, said at a press conference in Budapest on 16 June 2011.
Drawing the balance of the Hungarian Presidency’s term, Commissioner Ferenc Robák said that Hungary had hosted 261 Presidency events, including 26 informal and ministerial meetings, 92 senior officials’ meetings and 117 expert conferences in the first half of 2011. Before the end of June, senior officials and experts will have held another 10 and 14 meetings, respectively. Tens of thousands of visitors have travelled to Hungary with the delegations. The Hungarian Presidency has carried out approximately 2500 different meetings in Brussels. However, naturally, the number of events using the Presidency’s logo, totalled many more both in Hungary and abroad, he stressed, adding that many organisations and young artists were given the opportunity to introduce themselves in the country, as well as in various other places in Europe.
Mr Robák recalled that a relatively short period of time, 5-6 months, were available for preparing the Presidency, while this period is usually alloted 1-1.5 years in other countries. The Hungarian Government set a double objective in terms of organisation and logistics: to fulfil all task at a high standard and in a cost-efficient manner. The Government Commissioner believes that this has been achieved.
Mr Robák highlighted that he has always felt he had general political support and had received ample assistance for his work. After launching the Presidency, the officials who were responsible for the organisation, have tried to adapt flexibly to the requests and remarks of foreign guests, so the practise was constantly adjusted to the accumulating experience. As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received many letters of thanks from Brussels and other places, all of which have appreciated the high level of organisation.
The high standard had to be secured with a cost-efficient budget. According to the Commissioner, these requirement were also met, no supplementary budget had to be requested because the good economic management made the available financial framework sufficient. Last year, only HUF 6.9 billion was spent on the Presidencies instead of the planned HUF 9 billion, and the Presidencies will not exceed this year’s calculated HUF 15.5 billion framework either (EUR 57,785.845 at mid Juin rates).
The Hungarian Presidency was ambitious to utilise state resources, including for defence security and protocol tasks. As far as it was possible, the meetings took place at state-owned venues, such as historic memorial places. In addition to its positive impact on the country’s image, this made it possible to pay lower rents than the average commercial fees, Mr Robák said.
As for the tens of thousands of souvenirs, which were distributed to visitors, Hungary’s popularisation and cost-efficiency were again the mains aspects. According to the Commissioner’s evaluation, the strategy for giving simple but pleasing souvenirs that popularise Hungary, not only convey traditions but also the creativity and invention of Hungarians, as it proved to be successful. Speaking about Hungarian inventions, Ferenc Robák mentioned that visitors loved the Gömböc, a Hungarian invention, which was displayed in the Presidency Waiting Hall at Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport; while the news of the pálinka machine set up in the waiting room, received international press coverage.
Participants of the meetings in Hungary could learn about the specialities of Hungarian cuisine, the foods wines of different regions. During these events, more than 100,000 meals and around 26,000 bottles of wine were consumed. At the venues located in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg, several thousands of peoples clinked glasses with Hungarian wines and champagne. As a result of the tremendous success, Hungarian wines will also be served on the tables of the upcoming Polish Presidency.
According to the Commissioner, the Presidency had a beneficial effect on Hungary’s tourism as well, which is also indicated by the steady rise in the number of guests at Budapest hotels. Robák reiterated: the Hungarian Presidency’s image film, which received awards at several international festivals, ends with the invitation to return to Hungary. He expressed hopes that visitors of the Presidency will return as tourists with their families, and also to encourage their friends to do so as well.