Related to the Prime Minister’s final comment on yesterday’s draw for Euro 2020, all I can say is that we also like to perform well in competitive situations in which we are at a disadvantage. So see you at Philippi!
With relation to our talks, Ladies and Gentlemen, first of all I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his invitation. The time had come. This is not normal for two neighbouring countries that regard each other as allies: it has been six years since the Croatian prime minister visited our country, and seven years since I last visited his. And indeed over the past months we have talked about this a lot with Prime Minister Plenković, and I’ve come here today for us to be able to change this unnatural state of affairs and guide our relations back on track. The current state of affairs makes me personally very unhappy. I began to be involved in political cooperation with Croatia as a Member of Parliament in the early 1990s, when the war was still in progress here. I saw the establishment of the independent state of Croatia, and I maintained friendly relations with its first leaders. And regardless of fashionable opinion, I was also always a friend to President Tuđman. Looking at things from this vantage point, the sparseness and weakness of current relations seems particularly unnatural – especially since Hungarians are also sentimental, and sentimental peoples always greatly value friendship. We have a friendship of eight hundred years, and I know of no economic issue that is more valuable than eight hundred years of friendship. So this is why I have come here and was glad to accept the invitation. And over these past hours we have indeed taken some productive steps. We have succeeded in clarifying that in a historical perspective we are in agreement: we want a strong Europe and we want to strengthen cooperation between the nations of Europe. We will be glad if Croatia becomes a member of the Schengen Area at the earliest opportunity; and this will also result in the strengthening of Europe. We also agreed that if we take a look at the map of cooperation between the two countries, then we can see that relations are good. Our economic figures are outstanding; trade volume is continuously increasing; more and more Hungarians are coming here, and we are the seventh largest source country for tourists to the country; and Hungarian investments in Croatia are growing. The tourism figures show that relations between our countries’ citizens are also good. Cultural relations are closely interwoven, and we know that each of our minorities feels at home in our respective countries: Hungarians living in Croatia speak appreciatively about the current government, and with respect about Croatia; and it has been a long time since Croatians living in Hungary could look back on a period in which they received so much support from any Budapest government. So things are looking good. I could also say that the major, important things are looking good, but we still have a bitter taste in our mouths, and relations between our two countries are not without problems. I’m sure you know what it’s like when a healthy body reacts to a splinter which has found its way under one’s nail, and the site has become inflamed. It’s not a serious problem, but nevertheless it creates discomfort. This is our situation here: the splinter must be pulled out from under the nail, and then everything will return to normal. This is what we would like.
Thank you very much for the opportunity for these talks.