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Central European countries want their importance to be reflected in their impact on EU affairs

He pointed out that “We are the economic engine of the European Union”, and the fastest growing region – without which one could not speak of any meaningful expansion in the EU. Therefore, he said, Hungary would like to state its case in the clearest and strongest possible terms.

“We would like a work-based and performance-oriented economy, and we do not want to live in an empire again. The EU must be an alliance of nations”, Mr Orbán stressed.

The economies of the countries of our region are working, while the EU’s immigration policy has failed miserably, the Prime Minister stated.

We must continue to protect our borders, migration must be stopped, and help must be taken where it is needed, he pointed out. The European people do not want immigration, while some leaders in Europe continue to push the idea of immigration, he added. He thanked Poland for its assistance in protecting the Hungarian borders. In his view, with this assistance Poland made it clear that the protection of Hungary’s southern borders is not a Hungarian internal affair, but a shared European issue.

Photo: Gergely Botár

Mr Orbán highlighted that cooperation in large projects will be at the centre of relations between the two countries in the future. From among these he mentioned the importance of North-South energy and transport infrastructure connections.

The Prime Minister, who described his meeting with his Polish counterpart as excellent, said that 2018 will be an important year for Europe, a year of major debates which will be the last full year of the Community’s five-year cycle.

Many therefore look upon 2018 as the last opportunity to turn the countries of the region into immigrant countries, he pointed out, indicating that this topic will also be on the agenda of the March summit of prime ministers.

Regarding the intellectual and spiritual dimension of immigration he stated he finds it inconceivable that Hungary should enter a so-called post-Christian or post-national era. The Hungarian community has been forged and kept together by national identity and Christian culture, and should it be forced to surrender these, “the Hungarian nation will fall to pieces like untied sheaves”: the Hungarian people would not remain what is today known as the Hungarian community or Hungary.

Photo: Gergely Botár

Asked about the possible extension of the Visegrád cooperation, the Prime Minister said that the greatest virtue of this cooperation is that it constitutes an integral whole historically and culturally – as well as in terms of economic advancement. Consequently, any extension would jeopardise its efficiency. He said at the same time that the Member States are considering entering into intensive relations with Austria, for instance, against the background of maintaining firm internal relations within the V4.

He told the press he wishes to meet with members of the new Austrian government as well as with important Austrian economic and intellectual players in January because, he said, Austria is proof of the fact that democracy is working in Europe, and it is inconceivable for the leaders of a country not to follow what the people want on important issues such as migration over an extended period.

Asked about the opportunities for cooperation between the Polish and Hungarian economies, Mr Orbán said that while “neither of us wants to live off German money”, the two countries are happy to receive investments. In his view, it has been ascertained in recent years that if Central Europe, “the region lying between Russia and Germany” is given opportunities to trade, to invest, to work and to develop, it is able to stand on its own two feet economically.

He stressed that Poland is a dominant player of this region, and those who believe in Central Europe have a vested interest in the Polish economy being large and strong.

Photo: Gergely Botár

In Mr Orbán’s view the countries of the region are unable to remain independent without adequate economies in national ownership.

He said that, in terms of volume, Germany is trading far more with the Visegrád countries today than with France.

He added: that German-Visegrád cooperation is at least as important economically for Europe as French-German cooperation.

“This is a new era. This is a new reality”, explained Mr Orbán, who believes that this is why Central Europeans can have sufficient input in the debates on the future of the EU.

He said it must give the region political self-confidence that this is where the greatest growth is recorded within the EU.

The Prime Minister was also asked about his opinion regarding the fact that Poland became a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from January. Mr Orbán took the view that Poland represents a specific historical experience, “the historical experience of countries which pay with blood for their own freedom, which have to fight for their freedom”. Poland’s non-permanent membership is very important for Hungary as Poland also represents a Central European awareness and Central European interests in the Council, he added. He expressed hope that, on account of Poland’s membership, countries of the Visegrád cooperation will also deal with security issues extending to the entire world.