Meeting of the European Bhutan Friendship Associations

For two years, the meeting, already planned for 2020, had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, from 14 to 18 September 2022, representatives from 13 European countries and Bhutan met at the invitation of the President of the Hungarian Friendship Society, Zoltan Valcsicsak, and his team.  Austria was represented by Claudia Lisa, Christine A. Jantscher and Dr. Michael Raffling.

At the beginning of the meeting, the participants exchanged ideas on more intensive cooperation between the Friendship Associations, for example in joint project financing or by exchanging information about guests from Bhutan who are present in Europe.  In the question and answer session with Bhutan’s ambassador in Brussels, HE Tshering Gyeltshen Penjor, current topics and developments in Bhutan were discussed. The focus was on the new tourism policy and the strongly increased Sustainable Development Fee of 200 USD. The increasing migration of well-educated Bhutanese, especially to Australia, and possible consequences for the country were also discussed. Many of the questions had to remain unanswered for the time being and the first experiences will have to be awaited and evaluated.

The afternoon of the conference was then thematically dedicated to Buddhist – social-ethical and cultural topics with speakers from business/entrepreneurship, education and sports/archery. The following 4 days included sightseeing in Budapest and a stay in the region around Lake Balaton.

Programme of the conference under the motto: “Exploring Alternative Ways of Livelihood, Together”.