Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President,
This meeting is a special one for us Hungarians, primarily because Hungary has just taken over the presidency of the Visegrád Four, and tomorrow we shall also be holding talks with the Honourable President and the other three Visegrád prime ministers. The other reason why our guest is so special is that in recent years, under the leadership of President Sisi, Egypt has sought to implement an independent Egyptian national strategy, which that country had long been in need of. The Hungarian people have a special view of the wider world. When we look at other countries, we first of all note how much they are in love with their own independence and their own freedom, and the importance they attach to their own capacity to make the decisions which are important in their lives. If the Honourable President takes a bird’s eye view of Hungary’s one-thousand-year history, he will see that it has been a series of struggles fought by Hungarians to win and retain sovereignty. And when a leader such as you, Honourable President, comes to us from a country which is seeking to rebuild its own state and its own nation with this logic in mind, it always engenders our respect, and we look on such a visitor as an especially valued guest. When you are in Hungary you surely feel that you command the respect and recognition of the Hungarian people. I congratulate Egypt on succeeding in stabilising its economy and pursuing a policy aimed at national unity. For a long period, such developments for Hungary would have been favourable, but little more than interesting. For many decades Egypt seemed to be a country far removed from us in a political sense. The past decade has reminded us, however, that Egypt is not far from us, and that the opposite side of the Mediterranean is close to Europe; indeed, in a certain respect it forms part of Europe and part of the history of Europe. Over the past decade we have learnt that whatever happens over there will sooner or later make its effect felt over here too. This was the case in the Middle Ages, and it is also the case now. The difference is that in the intervening period events have accelerated significantly, and technological advance means that whatever happens over there at the beginning of the week will have an impact on the public security of Europe, the quality of life in Europe and the stability of Europe by the end of the week. Egypt is not only a nearby country, but in a political sense it is our neighbour, and a key state in the region, with a direct impact on our lives. This is why I would like to make it clear that – as I told the Honourable President – the stability of Egypt is of paramount interest to Hungary. This consideration takes priority over everything else. Stability means more than security and military stability, although that is its most important element: it also involves economic stability – and Hungary is convinced that Europe must play a role in the stability of the Egyptian economy. Hungary and the V4 are ready to take on this role to the best of their ability. We believe that within the Brussels decision-making system there should be high-level Egyptian-European negotiations as frequently as possible, we should adopt a more pragmatic approach, and we should build economic policy between Egypt and the European Union that is as practical as possible.
So, Honourable President, in the future you and the Egyptian people can continue to rely on Hungary speaking up within the European Union for your stability, development and prosperity.
Mr. President, I would like to mention the fact that two years ago you visited Budapest, and I had the opportunity to visit Cairo in return; at that time we agreed to forge closer cooperation. We succeeded in galvanising Egyptian-Hungarian relations. In the realm of politics, as this meeting today testifies, this process is already at an advanced stage; and I believe that we have also succeeded in opening windows on a number of economic issues. We have not yet opened doors, but we have certainly opened windows; and the time will soon come when we see Hungarian-Egyptian economic and trade relations increase by multiples of their volume at present.
Honourable President, the efforts you are making in the fight against terrorism command our great respect, and in these efforts you can always rely on us. We are aware that the success of the Egyptian fight against terrorism is also a precondition for calm and peace in Europe. We look upon Egypt as a country which, through its commitment to stability, is also protecting Hungary and Europe. Therefore, in addition to the spirit of friendship, we also have an interest in your success.
In this context I should also mention that we are grateful to the Honourable President for another thing which is important to us: the protection of Christians in the Middle East, on which he is pursuing a committed and exemplary policy. We are grateful to you for the actions taken by you in support of Copts and other Christians in your country: we thank you for the measures you have implemented to protect Christians in your country – whose faith we share – and for your commitment to this policy. This engenders recognition and respect in us Christians. We ask you to continue to show concern for the fate of this community.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to inform you that tomorrow, in negotiations with the V4, alongside security issues we will also seek to place on the agenda opportunities for economic cooperation and the launch of a Central European-Egyptian economic cooperation scheme.
Let me repeat, Honourable President, how grateful we are for your visit here.