Can Poem Be Catalyst for Closer Economic Links with Hungary?

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), December 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

Can Poem Be Catalyst for Closer Economic Links with Hungary?


MANY would be surprised to know that in the Central European country of Hungary, all schoolchildren are taught a poem in which Wales is the main subject.

Written by Janos Arany in the middle of the 19th Century, the poem 'Bards of Wales' (A walesi bardok) is a vivid description of the alleged slaughter of 500 Welsh druids by King Edward I for refusing to acknowledge his claim on the nation.

At a time when direct criticism of government was banned, it became a call for Hungarian self-determination not only from the Hapsburg Empire but also when Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956 to quell a popular uprising.

The importance of that poem and the potential for greater links between our two countries was the theme of a lunch last week with Peter Szabadhegy, the Hungarian Ambassador to the Court of St James. It was a wonderful event, especially in meeting some of the immigrants who had come over to Wales after the failure of the Hungarian revolution in 1956 and had made such a success of themselves in their adopted country.

Our conversations also took me back to the various research projects I undertook in Budapest during my first job at Durham University Business School, including the first analysis of academic entrepreneurship within this former Warsaw Pact country in 1993.

Since then, Hungary has developed considerably and the Ambassador, who started out in the private sector, described the enterprise and growth that has grown his country's economy over the last few years.

Hungary is certainly doing better compared to some Western European countries with inflation low, wages rising and unemployment down from 10.2% in 2013 to 7.1% in 2015.

The UK has been a major contributor to this success and is now the fourth largest investor in Hungary behind Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. British firms have made investments of PS2 billion pounds in sectors such as shared services centres, telecommunications, Wales '' can pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and retailing. Indeed, Tesco currently has 21,000 people working for it in Hungary and is the largest private sector employer in the country. …

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