Many Flemish people know Hungary as a holiday destination, just think of the beautiful Lake Balaton. But the ties between Flanders and Hungary date back to a long time ago. In the 18th century, both Flanders and Hungary were part of the great Habsburg Empire.
In 1994, the former Flemish Minister-President, Luc van den Brande, and the Hungarian Minister of Industry and Trade, Laszlo Pál, signed the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Flanders and the Republic of Hungary. The scope of cooperation is very broad; from expanding economic relations, cultural and socio-cultural cooperation, to cooperation in the fields of tourism, research, education and even within international organisations. Since 1998, biennial work programmes have monitored the implementation of the agreement.
At present, Flanders is an important investor in Hungary, with approximately one hundred companies. A large part of Hungarian exports goes via the Flemish ports. Remarkable further is the popularity of the Dutch Studies (Neerlandistiek) at Hungarian universities, with no less than 300 students. The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has a considerable collection of paintings of Flemish Masters.
In Budapest there is an antenna of the Flemish representation. This Representation to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia controls the antenna from its headquarters in Vienna and closely monitors relations with the Hungarian partners.