His Excellency Fülöp Benedek, Secretary of State of the Republic of Hungary

The Hungarian Republic is honoured and pleased to express its best wishes to the heads of State and Governments, delegates, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations and all participants in this World Food Summit. Our special thanks go to FAO and its Director-General, Mr. Jacques Diouf, for having promoted the idea of this World Food Summit and having borne the main burden of its organization.

In the more than 20 years which have passed since the 1974 World Food Conference, the international community has paid special interest to all aspects of agricultural and food production and food security both at the global and at more restricted levels too. Issues, ranging from environmental protection to population growth and rural development, up to research, fisheries, forestry, and plant protection and conservation of genetic resources, the conditions of sustainable agriculture have been studied and analysed in depth and detail. These and other efforts have also been instrumental in the growth of per capita food consumption in recent decades. Despite all this, however, we have to agree with the facts we find in the documents that have been submitted to us which show that we need the firm political commitment of all countries if we want to ensure food security for future generations. There is a world-famous quotation which says "If we wish to keep things as they are, everything must be changed". However, we do not wish to keep things as they are, we need to improve conditions and we therefore have to plan and implement new developments in production, trade and consumption.

Hungary's political and economic regime has changed fundamentally in the last six years. Agricultural food production and supply are, of course, no exception to this. The Hungarian people have already expressed, on the occasion of two elections, their clear wish to follow the path of democracy and market economy. But we must say, quite frankly, that the political and economic transition is bearing fruit rather more slowly than expected and there are a number of constraints that we have either not reckoned with or that have proved to be more serious than we thought.

The ownership, production and the whole structure of operation of Hungarian agriculture and of the food economy have completely changed. Our share of foreign markets has also been altered because we have lost some previous markets and there has been a drastic cut in the funding that we received in the past. The introduction and development of the market economy in Hungary has happened just when there was a general slump in the world economy on the one hand, and on the other hand, there has been an end to the State's role in conserving a level of production which was low but which was being conserved and also supplying and striving for equal distribution.

Hungarian farmers and processors are doing their best to adjust to new market conditions and to a previously unknown market, and to previously unknown financial remunerations which are all aimed at emphasizing competitiveness, quality and marketability of their product. Today, the overwhelming majority of Hungarian agricultural products and food are being produced and manufactured and processed by new firms, new owners, both individual farmers or cooperatives and companies which have been established on a totally voluntary basis.

A heavy emphasis is placed on this aspect, because Hungary is presently an associate member, and hopefully within the next decade will become a full member, of the European Union, and as such, should be able to join international efforts on an even fuller scale. At this point, I would like to mention that from May 1996, Hungary has been a member of the OECD, enjoying all the rights and complying with all the duties resulting from this membership.

I have mentioned before that Hungary, through developing international relations, should be able to join ever more fully any international effort on a broader scale. I would like to stress that, particularly because my country has in past decades already taken a rather active part in agricultural and other development programmes, coordinated primarily by FAO but also by other organizations.

We feel, that both the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, are good documents and accurate surveys of the actions that member nations of the United Nations should commit themselves to within the boundaries and the limits of their financial possibilities and of all potential available for this purpose in order to implement the provisions of this Plan of Action.

In concluding, please allow me to offer some specific comments on the tasks ahead of us and on the Plan of Action. First of all, we think that we need to stress most particularly the strict interdependence and inter-linkage of all the seven Commitments in the Plan of Action. Hungary, in spite of the difficulties in our economy as a whole, and in agriculture, is determined to join in efforts to improve the life of future generations. First of all, our country would like to do this by making available our extensive experience, which is also easily transmitted and adjusted to other conditions, through FAO, making it available to all countries where these experiences are applicable and needed.

Secondly, we feel that FAO should, as a matter of course, takeover responsibility for the implementation of such actions as being the most competent and experienced specialized agency of the United Nations. In this address, I have touched upon some essential political and economic changes taking place in the world and in the different groups of countries and other delegates have, of course, addressed these points too. It is our firm belief that FAO must adjust to such changes and should perform the task of coordinating the Plan of Action through an approach with a greater flexibility and transparency, and through giving higher priority to field work and by means of an ever more practical approach to all problems.

Hungary readily acknowledges that the Director-General of FAO has made a good start in the difficult job of modernizing the organization and we should mention here, the improvement in the efficiency of field activities and also the full decentralization of the work of FAO's regional offices. In Central and Eastern Europe, the establishment of a sub-regional office is helping in modernizing agricultural development in the region and ensuring a better utilization of the available resources.

My government, is happy to host this new sub-regional office of FAO and would like to support the Director-general in adjusting, with even greater energy, the structure, operations and priorities of the Organization and in carrying out the reforms needed to adapt them to the changing conditions of a changing world.

In concluding, I would like to reiterate Hungary's agreement that world food security must be approached as a basic human right to food, and we must all be in agreement to take part in international efforts in line with the economic strength of the country and offer temporarily free production capacities to increase global food resources.

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