Address by His Excellency Dr. Ferenc Mádl
World Food Day 2004
Excellency, the Director-General of FAO,
It is a great honour for the Republic of Hungary and for me to address the World Food Day Ceremony this year. The 25th anniversary of the adoption of Resolution on the establishment of a World Food Day is of particular interest in Hungary. In the year 1979 our Delegation, lead by the former Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pál Romány has played an active role at the 20th Session of the FAO Conference and suggested the idea of celebrating a Farmer's Day worldwide.
Today, I have the opportunity to be an honoured guest and to address this prestigious UN organisation.
In our contemporary world we face serious challenges and amazing opportunities. International institutions and organizations, like FAO were established to meet the menaces and offer solutions for the benefit of mankind.
It is in this context that Hungary strongly believes in multilateralism and collective action. My country, along with our partners in the European Union is deeply committed to effective multilateralism as a central element in our foreign policy.
The profound challenges of our time, international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human sufferings caused by regional or intra-state conflicts, hunger, extreme poverty or HIV/AIDS can only be addressed by strong and devoted common political will and enhanced co-operation of the members of the international community.
In my view, the whole system of international organizations should adapt at all level to the rapidly changing circumstances of our today's world. To be effective and efficient in this regard, there can be no exception from the part of the multilateral institutions. To act otherwise, we would avoid our responsibilities.
On a personal note, I still vividly recall the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations in 2000, which I had the privilege to attend. We have adopted there the Millennium Development Goals, which will be reviewed at the 2005 UN Major Event. The international community should spare no effort to implement the Millennium Development Goals for the benefit of all organisation, and for the benefit of all of us
The theme of this year's World Food Day programmes is "Biodiversity for Food Security". During the last ten years those priorities have already been discussed at the World Food Day celebrations. The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992.
The key objectives of the Convention: sustainable use of components of biological diversity: and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources. The Convention recognises the sovereign right of States over their natural resources. Countries must create conditions to facilitate access to genetic resources for environmentally sound uses. Each State must take legislative, administrative and policy measures to support fair and equitable benefit-sharing.
For me it is a unique opportunity to underline the importance of the agro biodiversity and genetic resources in food and agriculture, which Hungary possesses. The country is a leading place in Central Europe to breed traditional and new plant varieties. Hungary was among the countries that welcomed and ratified the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Hungarians are proud to consider their indigenous animal breeds as part of their life and the nation's history. Hence the Parliament recently passed a law in declaring all indigenous breeds as national treasure.
The Hungarian agriculture is based on favourable ecological conditions, which provide important role in the development of rural areas.
Due to the clean conditions of the soil and to the well organised and controlled agricultural production systems Hungarian agricultural companies are known as safe food and feed producers
The defence of rural areas, where rare plant varieties and animal species are living has got a growing support in Hungary. Biodiversity seems to be not only an important task of scientists and friends of the nature, but a fast growing and profit-earning activity in rural agriculture.
Since the 1st May 2004 Hungary as member country of the European Union will further enhance policy dialogue under a new partnership and strengthen collaboration with FAO at country level. The strategic partnership agreement signed between the European Commission and the FAO on 13th September 2004 will bring the country support strategies of the Commission and FAO's technical assistance into closer harmony.
Hungarian aid programmes based on previous successful cooperation with FAO under the new circumstances would improve efficiency in delivering assistance to developing countries. Hungarian scientists and agricultural specialists were always recommended to running FAO projects and our agricultural education and training facilities were appreciated by farmers and agricultural engineers of developing countries.
The Republic of Hungary joined to the European Union with having good resources for agricultural and food production. The Hungarian agriculture is expecting positive changes and attitudes from the reform process of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
We appreciate very much the efforts made towards liberalization in the agricultural trade and we understand the need of decreasing subsidies, which are still existing in several plant and animal production. This would lead to a better balance between industrially developed and developing countries.
The Government of Hungary has been honoured to provide suitable conditions for the activities of the FAO Subregional Office for Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest for long time. The Office is running several successful projects and we are ready to extend this cooperation with the FAO Headquarters at European level. His Excellency, the Director-General is expected to come to Hungary in the near future.
We will appreciated negotiations on FAO-Hungary cooperation. We wish to strengthen the multilateral engagement of Hungary in solving global problems like hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
We all need such multilateral platforms, provided by the United Nations to form a coalition in fighting for a better World, where people are supplied with safe and accessible food under peaceful conditions.
Hungary pledges to remain an active partner in these endeavours.