Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great honour for me to be here. Bavarians and Hungarians are linked by a deep, long-standing relationship: so long-standing that it stretches all the way from the first Christian Hungarian royal family to the Audi factory in Győr. Its depth qualifies it as a friendship. In Bavaria I have never observed any ill will towards the Hungarian people, Hungary or the Hungarian government. I have always had sincere, open and fair talks here, and today was no exception. I had a very good audience, and very good discussion partners. For this I’d like to thank the Honourable Parliamentary Group Leader, and also the Honourable Chairman. So that you’re not left guessing about the content of our conversation, I’ll tell you what we discussed.
First of all, I pointed out that I don’t wish to be disrespectful by intervening in German domestic politics. Our position is essentially a respectful one. German debates will be conducted by German people, and German decisions will be adopted by German politicians. I wish you all success in these negotiations. I spoke about the fact that in Europe the migrant issue has become a problem of democracy. The European people have a clear will, and I could say that the people’s will is obvious: they don’t want to live under the threat of terrorism; they want security; they want their borders to be defended; and they want people who have no reason to be here in the Schengen Area to be taken away from it, back to where they can start new lives. I said that the question of the past few years has been whether it is possible to take full account of what the people want and implement it. In many places in Europe leaders have not done what the people want. At such times a state of confusion emerges in democracy, and this contradiction must somehow be resolved. I’ve told my friends in Bavaria that I think that in Europe 2018 will be the year for reasserting the will of the people, and that gradually the people of Europe shall make sure that decisions are made on the issue of migration which serve their best interests. I have learnt a great deal from Chairman Seehofer. One of the important rules that I’ve learnt from him is that no rights of any kind can be built upon illegality, and therefore the law must be closely adhered to at all times. Indeed the greater the pressure and challenge, the more closely the rules must be observed. I can say with due modesty – but also with pride – that Hungary is a country which has understood this precept. From the very beginning the bedrock of our approach has been defence of the borders and compliance with the Schengen regulations. The Schengen Agreement was our bedrock when, for instance, we constructed a fence and a border defence system – while at the same time in some parts of Europe chaos and illegality were being celebrated. I made it clear to my Bavarian partners that Hungary continues to stand on the bedrock of legality. As I said two years ago, you should look upon me as the captain of Bavaria’s border fortress, and that continues to be true: in effect Bavaria’s southern border is the Serbian-Hungarian border; and when we defend that border, we also defend Bavaria. We have also discussed economic issues. Bilateral relations are excellent, but we have found new areas into which we will expand.
We also spoke about the future of the European economy. I can conclude that there is full agreement between the CSU and Hungary’s governing parties. One cannot live off the money of others, and everyone must deliver results in their own right: governments must reduce their debt burdens; budget deficits must be kept below 3 per cent; and everyone must enact domestic labour market reforms. This is what every Member State must do to set its house in order, and this national responsibility must be accepted. We do not support reforms which would replace national responsibility with international irresponsibility, and which would seek to dissolve national responsibility into some kind of pan-European responsibility. That would not end well. And finally I thanked Chairman Seehofer for the splendid speech he delivered at the CSU Congress in December. We had long looked forward to hearing such a speech and such a tone. We warmly welcomed its recognition of Bavaria as a Christian state, and that it shall remain so. As I see it, debates on the future have a common intellectual basis, and so I expect future discussions to also be exciting and productive. Bavaria’s example has always been an encouragement for Hungary: we too would like to be as successful as the Bavarians, and we are seeking the path towards that goal. This will not happen overnight, but today the Hungarian economy is on a path that we can be proud of. I also made it clear that we want the performance of Hungarians to be the means by which we construct the Hungarian economy. We are asking for partnership and looking for business cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.