Mr Orbán and Mrs Merkel attended the ecumenical service of the 30th Sopron Pan-European Picnic, and then conducted bilateral talks.
At the press conference held after the talks, the Prime Minister said “We do not see any future event on the horizon that could disrupt German-Hungarian relations; at the same time, we do see necessities in the world economy that compel us to further strengthen economic cooperation”. He highlighted that economic issues were at the centre of the talks as Germany is Hungary’s number one trade partner and investor.
Year after year, the volume of bilateral trade breaks records, and German investors bring cutting-edge factories to Hungary. The six thousand German businesses operating in Hungary provide jobs for 300,000 Hungarians, and up to mid-August decisions were made about 17 new major German investments, he said. Mr Orbán observed that the ministers concerned would compile another timetable regarding the development of economic relations during the period ahead.
The parties further discussed that German military technology plays an important role in Hungarian defence industry developments, he said.
Mr Orbán pointed out that they had also spoken about the enlargement of the European Union as Hungary has a vested interest in the Western Balkans becoming a part of the EU within the shortest possible time. Hungary is urging the further enlargement of the EU, and in this Serbia is a key country. The acceleration of accession talks with Serbia also serves Europe’s best interests, he said.
Mr Orbán highlighted that they had further discussed the two countries’ development cooperation in Africa as help must be taken where there is trouble, and it is necessary to improve Africa’s population retaining capacity. To this end, they are financing joint programmes.
In answer to a question, the Prime Minister said since they became members of the EU, the countries of Central Europe have undergone a phase of modernisation and development at a rate which surprises many, perhaps even the people of Western Europe. It is possible to talk about the rise of the Central European region, and the future of European unity depends on whether the relevant conclusions will be drawn or not, he added.
He highlighted that Central Europe now makes a contribution to the output of the European economy, and therefore in addition to the conventional German-French axis, the interests of the peoples of Central Europe must also be taken into consideration. This is a new process which is now reaching completion, and the weight of Central Europe in European decision-making will increase continuously, he added.
He stressed that Germany understands this process, and so German-Central European relations will play a prominent role in the maintenance of European unity.
The Prime Minister also said that the new President of the European Commission is a chance for Hungary, and instead of the old disputes, talks could start on new tracks.
In answer to another question, Mr Orbán pointed out that 30 years ago they dismantled the walls so that the East Germans can become free and live in security. Today we are defending the southern borders so that the Germans can continue to live in freedom and security. Protecting the borders is our duty which we will perform the same as before, though it would be a welcome development if Brussels assumed some of the costs, he said.
Mr Orbán stressed that the protection of the Hungarian border is a key issue of Hungarian-German relations because the flow of migrants has not stopped, we will have to expect a continuous rise in the pressure coming from the South. Illegal migrants will not flood Austria and Germany only if Hungary protects its borders, he stated,
The Prime Minister took the view that the negative opinions regarding the state of democracy in Hungary are politically biased, and barely contain any factual claims. He recommended that everyone should come to Hungary to gather personal experiences, and they will then understand “how we live over here”. Hungary is doing better and better, and so we have good reason to continue what we started, he stressed.
Regarding the Pan-European Picnic, Mr Orbán said while it took place thirty years ago, this day which was the catalyst of events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall and a key moment in the reunification of Europe has not lost any of its significance.
At the time, this day could come about because we never believed that two Europes could exist in the long run. There is only one Europe which was reunited by freedom-loving peoples, the Hungarian Prime Minister stressed.