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Both Hungary and Slovenia know only too well what uncontrolled border-crossing means

At a joint press conference held after an inter-governmental meeting, Mr Orbán said “we know what it is like when people with no permission appear in masses and want to enter the territories of our countries, we know what it is like when they do not come to countries as their destination, but merely want to pass through us, and with know what it is like when the law, national interests and the humaneness of managing things correctly come into conflict with one another”.

At the same time, he indicated that Hungary and Slovenia will jointly provide medical supplies for countries in Africa, “based on the logic that trouble should not be brought here, instead help must be taken there”.

In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said Hungary is observing Slovenia’s border protection efforts with great sympathy and compassion.

He said at present there are 96,000 migrants in transit on the Balkans route; they are moving towards Western Europe at differing paces. However, there is no way of knowing whether they will head towards Hungary, or Slovenia via Croatia.

At the same time, Hungary has a “hinterland” with the Visegrád Four, and pursuant to this agreement, if a major flow of migrants were to arrive, the Czechs, the Polish and the Slovaks would without delay send border guard units to the Hungarian-Serbian border, he said.

“We are ready to cooperate also with Slovenia in the most concrete and most intense possible way if that serves Slovenia’s interests,” he said.

In the context of European affairs, the Prime Minister also pointed out that now that the European Union had made the wrong decision on the commencement of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, it should at least accelerate talks with Serbia in order to leave the prospect of EU accession open for the Balkans.

He pointed out at the same time that some EU Member States are pushing for a review of the entire process of enlargement.

Regarding Hungarian-Slovenian bilateral relations, Mr Orbán spoke in words of praise about the Slovenian economy’s competitiveness, highlighting that “we have plenty to learn from them”.

He observed that while Hungarian-Slovenian economic cooperation is improving year after year, its pace is slower than that of Hungary’s economic cooperation with its other neighbours.

He also pointed out that Eximbank had opened a credit line worth EUR 165 million to support Slovenian-Hungarian economic cooperation, and Hungary would be the guest of honour of the largest Slovenian economic fair in 2020.

He further informed the press that the government had recently transferred a sum of HUF 900 million to the region of Rábavidék – where Slovenians live in the largest numbers in Hungary – for the purposes of the development of the region’s economy. Additionally, they have spent two billion forints so far on the economic development programme of Muravidék (Prekmurje) in Slovenia. In the context of the latter, he suggested to his Slovenian counterpart that they set up a cross-border regional development fund.

The Prime Minister stressed that since 2010 the government had increased the funding of the Slovenian minority living in Hungary 4.5-fold.

He added that in mid-December they would complete the construction of the M70 motorway to the Slovenian-Hungarian border, and they had also begun the planning of the section falling on Hungary of the Zalaegerszeg-Rédics-Lendva (Lendava) railway line.

In answer to a question concerning Croatia’s accession to the Schengen Area, Mr Orbán said Hungary supports the integration aspirations of all its neighbours, but in the case of the long Hungarian-Croatian border section “we have special interests”. In this regard, Budapest would like to receive contractual guarantees which would permit – should migrants start arriving in Hungary from Croatia in large numbers – the reinstatement of border protection not only administratively, but also physically, he said.

Regarding Hungary’s plan for the construction of a port and a railway line leading to it, the Prime Minister said Hungary as a country cut off from the sea has three possible solutions to this problem: “one of them was that we lived in a common state with the Croatians, and our exit led through Rijeka, known as Fiume at the time”.

The other solution, he continued, would have been Koper in Slovenia, and Hungary would have been happy to take part in the development of the road leading there and of the port. However, the Slovenians decided they did not want any more in-depth cooperation with Hungary in that department, and this is something that we must accept. If the situation were to change in Slovenia, Hungary is ready to engage in talks again, he added.

The third solution is, as Hungarian history dictates, that “you should go to Trieste […], and that is just what we did, we bought a piece of port in Trieste,” he said.

In answer to another Slovenian journalist’s question, he said the Hungarian government is not planning any media investments in Slovenia.