On 1 January 2013 Hungary assumed the Presidency of the Central European Initiative. On 1 July, 2013 Hungary will take over the Presidency of the Visegrad Group.

The Central European Initiative and the Visegrad Group are the two pre-eminent regional cooperation initiatives in Central Europe that have made important contributions in order to overcome the division of Europe by re-establishing intra-regional cooperation links, launching specific programs and projects aiming at a gradual harmonization of the socio-economic structures of their Member States, strengthening the process of European integration, and assisting economic transformation of their Member States in transition.

Regional cooperation is a cornerstone of Europe and is a key for finding solutions to the pressing issue of efficient energy supply, improving infrastructure and making better use of our competitive advantages. Overall, the security, stability and general well-being of Europe hinges on the quality of intra-regional interactions and good neighbourly relations.

The fundamental objective of the Hungarian presidency is to explore and exploit potentials of Central Europe by removing the obstacles hampering intra-regional economic cooperation. We intend to work towards arriving at the relevant political understandings conducive to clearing the bottlenecks both in physical and human infrastructure. We will step up efforts to improve infrastructure and to link networks within the region. Further initiatives are required to enhance the level and intensity of direct contacts between our societies in general and the business communities in particular. Hungary will promote cultural exchanges as an important vehicle for establishing the atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding between the nations of the region occasionally still struggling to cope with the baggage of their complicated historical past.

The strategic aspirations of Central Europe are to be interpreted predominantly within the European framework as far as the EU plays the most important role in shaping of the political and socio-economic perspectives of the region. The Hungarian Presidency will strive to articulate the common interests and policy ideas important for Central Europe by emphasizing the need of continued enlargement and an expanded neighbourhood policy, as well as by persistently advocating the need of adequate financial allocations for the developmental objectives of the region.

In today’s globalized world enhanced cooperation with overseas partners is an important aspect of regional stability and prosperity. New perspectives of economic interactions are gradually opening up for Central Europe in this context.

The Hungarian Presidency of the Central European Initiative intends to organize its practical activities around three major strategic objectives:

·       Stepping up efforts in order to clear the regulatory and infrastructural bottlenecks hampering closer economic interactions and more extensive human contacts within Central Europe

·   Representing common aspirations and objectives of the wider Central European region within and towards the European Union, strengthening the process of economic transformation of the countries in transition

· Encouraging increased commitments in the region by overseas stakeholders

The Presidential Year is to cover four horizontal priorities: strengthening of visibility; identifying all opportunities assisting sustainable growth; enhancing mobility; strengthening inclusiveness.

Visibility – is to be enhanced through even closer cooperation with the relevant EU authorities, deeper involvement into the EU programs under CEI banner. The global appearance is to be supported by programs dedicated to global issues and possible invitations of global players interested in our region.

Sustainable Growth – is to be approached via programs for dialog and networking in the fields of business development through revitalization of the business dimension of the CEI on the two pillar base, of green growth focusing on rural development, of healthcare sustainability and research of renewable energy.

Mobility – is about to support a funded dialog on the issue of better transport connections in the region, needed both for tourism and trade. The dialog on the touristic potential should be continued on expert level in order to support further programmatic development.

Inclusion – the numerous identities and their cultural diversity in Central Europe are to be dealt as sources of creativity in the framework of special programs exploring the depth of common understanding through art, intellectual debates on history and sociology.

Hungary wishes to encourage pragmatic cooperation among the major stakeholders in the region in all areas of CEI activity, i.e. governments, industries, NGOs, organizations in both private and public sectors.

Through consistent efforts to put in motion the creative energies of the region, Central Europe is well positioned to become an engine of growth in the European continent. The Hungarian CEI Presidency - based on tight cooperation with all partners within the CEI and especially the V4, the enlarged Trojka and the Executive Secretariat - will do her best to develop impetuses needed to achieve this goal and to step forward in the solution of the actual issues standing before our Initiative.