Outgoing Hungarian envoy says Taiwan post was a ‘gift’
Hungary’s outgoing representative to Taiwan described his posting in Taiwan as “a gift” in his career, saying that he will never forget the three years he spent here.
Levente Szekely, who is scheduled to leave Taiwan next week, said that Taiwan was his first assignment in Asia since he became a career diplomat 25 years ago.
“Taiwan is by far the best post I’ve got,” he told CNA in a recent interview.
Recalling his three years in Taiwan, he said he was impressed by the greenness of Taipei when he first arrived and the friendliness of the local people. He made many Taiwanese friends, including those in the diplomatic community and from different sectors.
One of the friends he made is Shi Wen-Lung, the founder of Taiwan’s Chi Mei Group, said the violinist-turned-diplomat.
They once played a
classic Mandarin song “The Moon Represents My Heart” together, on violins collected by Shi, Szekely said, lauding Shi as having the biggest private collection of the world’s most famous violins.
He also took the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for supporting projects initiated by him to promote bilateral exchanges.
One of his achievements was that he initiated a series of events to promote cultural exchanges with Taiwan last year, in partnership with three other Central European countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Meanwhile, he said Taiwan has demonstrated that “Chinese culture and democracy work perfectly together,” noting that Taiwan preserves traditional Chinese culture and is also a vibrant democracy.
Asked about the Sunflower Movement last year in Taiwan, he said it was a positive thing that “the younger generation is willing to take the future in their hands because it is about their future.”
On a more personal level, Szekely said he loves the seafood and fruit in Taiwan.
Lobsters, oysters and shrimps are among his favorites when it comes to seafood in Taiwan, said the diplomat who is from a landlocked country where there is not much fresh seafood.
He also gave the thumbs up to Taiwanese fruit, especially mangoes.
His experience in Taiwan has been mostly positive, but if he has to name one negative thing, that would be the crazy traffic and scooter riders.
“They look like they want to die,” he said, adding that he was lucky to have an excellent driver from Taiwan, who has good driving skills and would never curse and honk his horns at the scooter riders.
Over the past three years, Szekely has been devoted to promoting bilateral relations in several areas. For example, the two countries have signed agreements on agricultural cooperation and on a reciprocal working holiday program.
He was also the driving force behind the importation of Hungary’s “low-cholesterol pork” and Hungarian wine to Taiwan.
After CNA reported on his country’s curly haired Mangalica swine in 2012, a company expressed interest and has since begun importing the meat, he said.
After three years in Taiwan, he said he will leave with “a very sad heart.”
“We were supposed to stay four years. Now it was cut short,” he said. “It’s very sad that I have to leave. My only hope is that I will be able to return.”
Taiwan has left a deep impression on him and his wife, he said, promising that he will always be a spokesperson for Taiwan.
“We will never forget these three years. This is a gift, the best part of my career, of our lives generally,” he said.