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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement after the Slovenian-Hungarian government summit

Good afternoon,

Today’s meeting was initiated by your Prime Minister, and so the praise for the results we have achieved should primarily go to the Prime Minister of Slovenia. At the same time we did not hesitate in saying yes, and therefore we may also claim some credit for our achievements here. I would like to take this opportunity here in public, Dear Miro, to respectfully invite you and your government to Budapest, to Hungary, at a convenient time in the future, to continue the work we have started now.

It was a pleasure for us to come to Slovenia. This visit has offered us Hungarians an opportunity to review relations between the two nations over the past 25 years. And I am pleased to report that in Hungary there is a positive bias towards you, the Slovenian people and Slovenia. The reason for this positive bias is not that you live better than we do – although that is also true, given that living standards in Slovenia are higher than in Hungary. But this is not the reason. The primary reason for this appreciation and positive bias is that you have a record of historical achievement, as you have successfully survived the last few centuries. We are a nation which sees this as an achievement. One obviously best recognises oneself in the success of others. We, too, think that surviving the history of the last one hundred years has been a great success. This is a stormy corner of Europe. I am not saying that we have not sometimes caught a cold, but we did not die of our ailments, and that is a fair achievement. We believe that this is appreciated in Slovenia, as this is not only a historical fact, but a fact which leads to obligations. The first one is that we must respect our ancestors. We have this respect in Hungary, but we feel that this respect is even stronger in Slovenia, and it also follows from this historical fact, the achievement of survival, that we must accept the legacy of our ancestors as well as the resulting mission. In this respect I believe that our cooperation has a deep spiritual foundation which lends itself to a respect for history, and this fills us with high hopes for the future. Before we came here, when we evaluated relations between Slovenia and Hungary, we also came to the conclusion that Slovenia is a nation of culture. This is not only in the sense that here performance in higher education is outstanding, but because there are a number of other signs leading to that conclusion; and there are some which, I must admit, we are envious of. It is remarkable, for instance, that you are high in the European rankings for foreign language skills: you are among the best in Europe – or you may be the best. Meanwhile we Hungarians are well behind the pack. In this department we are not doing anywhere near as well as you are. And then there is another thing which Hungarians always pay attention to. If we look at the number of Olympic medals won over the years related to population, we can see that Slovenia is first or second in the world rankings. As we are also a sporting nation, Hungarians greatly appreciate this fact, which indicates that Slovenia is a sporting nation too. In this regard I would like to ask the Slovenian public as a whole – and not only your political leaders – to support us Hungarians in our bid to host Central Europe’s first Olympic Games in 2024, given that Budapest has a fair chance in achieving that goal. And we should find ways for you to also benefit fully from this unique opportunity. So I would respectfully ask the Slovenian public to support our bid.

After general evaluation of the situation, we concerned ourselves a great deal with migration. I have to say that, following your prime minister’s admirable move of sending letters on the subject to the leaders of the EU Member States, we were thoroughly aware of Slovenia’s position before our arrival here. At the government meeting I had the opportunity to announce that Hungary will join the Prime Minister’s initiative and will do its best to implement what is envisaged in his letter. We particularly agree with the view that moaning and handwringing is an inadequate response to Greece’s failure to protect its southern borders. We must instead bravely stand up and declare that we expect the erection of a second line of defence in Bulgaria and Macedonia – on the Bulgarian-Greek and Macedonian-Greek borders – because what is happening today will lead to trouble. And neither the Hungarians nor the Slovenians want trouble. If others have such a plan, they should implement it without our involvement. We are therefore committed to supporting Slovenia in forging international cooperation for the building of a second line of defence on the northern borders of Greece. We see it as a natural, moral duty for Hungary to come to Slovenia’s aid in times of need; and we have no doubt that if the situations were reversed – had we needed help from Slovenia – it would have given us the support we needed in the form of police personnel and equipment for the construction of physical barriers, just as we have done. As the Hungarian saying goes: once for me, once for you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I agree with the Prime Minister that defending Schengen with mere words is not enough. There are two types of country in Europe today: ones which defend Schengen with words, and others which do so with actions. We both fall into the second category, because those who do not do everything in their power to defend the external borders of Europe are in truth no friends of Schengen: they are, in fact, the enemies of Schengen. Unless we protect the external borders – however difficult the technical, political or moral problems, which are indeed difficult – we ourselves will contribute to the disintegration of Schengen. Our stance is that we cannot let this happen, and we are pleased that there has also been agreement between us on this issue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to say one more thing. The Hungarian delegation came here, to your capital, having concluded that our economic cooperation over the past twenty-odd years has fallen short of our potential. We must appreciate what we have achieved, because a trade balance of two billion euros is a major achievement; but it is still not as much as we are capable of. We could do far better than this, but so far the two governments have failed to elevate economic cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary to a strategic level. Today we have negotiated in order to ensure that our cooperation is not just satisfactory, not just operational economic cooperation, but that it is elevated to a higher level of quality: to a strategic level of quality. This means that the two countries must be connected together in order to achieve this. Regarding our economic talks, the key word was perhaps “connect”. There are things here that we are responsible for, because it is primarily Hungary which is responsible for there being no continuous dual carriageway or motorway linking the two countries’ capitals. This is because we have not yet completed the section leading to our border. Here I have made the promise that we shall complete this section by 2018 – by the end of our government’s second term in office. Today we have expressed our commitment to connecting the two countries’ electricity systems and to fully electrifying our railway lines. In this department you have some shortcomings to make up for, but we have succeeded in agreeing on the relevant deadlines and commitments, and so there is a good chance that these projects, too, will be completed. And finally, we see it as important to connect the two countries’ gas pipeline networks. The issue of gas in this region is not just one of energy, but of national security. If we therefore connect the two countries’ gas pipeline networks together, we shall also be contributing to each other’s national security. Today, therefore, both prime ministers have made a commitment to achieving this.

An open question – on which we have made a great deal of progress, but have as yet reached no agreement – is the relationship between Hungary and your outstanding seaport of Koper. You are certainly aware that the Port of Koper is the primary sea exit for Hungarian cargo shipping and trade. We have a vested interest in ensuring that products made in Hungary – and we are not only talking about Hungarian factories, but also large international plants – should be able to connect to world trade via Koper. We must acknowledge, however, that today this port and the rail system leading to it no longer satisfy the needs of the modern world economy. We need developments, and this is also something we agreed on. If you decide that Hungary should play some role in these developments, we will be happy to make the commitments which arise from any such contribution; but for this we shall need further talks.

On the whole, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that we have had a successful meeting. We have succeeded in expressing our mutual respect. In our talks we have managed to give due importance to the affairs of the indigenous minorities each of us has in the other’s country. We Hungarians have committed to an initiative of European significance on the issue of migration, and we have taken the first steps towards elevating the quality of our economic cooperation from a satisfactory level to a strategic level. All this in one day – in one afternoon. This is a fair achievement, I would say. I would like to report to Hungarian taxpayers that today the Hungarian government has worked hard for their money.

Thank you for your attention.