I respectfully welcome everyone. Good afternoon to you all.
Today’s V4 summit was a special meeting. Firstly, because we were able to play host to the Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz. It is always an honour for Hungary to receive the head of the Austrian government. But this is more than an honour in the general sense, as we all know that the current head of the Austrian government plays a key role in the issues that are on the agenda: migration, the European budget and Central European cooperation. This V4 meeting was also special because the Hungarian presidency has come to an end, and Prime Minister Pellegrini will take over the presidency on behalf of Slovakia. On this subject I would just like to say that there is only one thing that makes one feel better than receiving the presidency: handing it over. We wish the Slovakian prime minister much success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have welcomed the Chancellor today in order to hear him tell us about the plans which will guide his leadership of the Council of the European Union in the second half of this year. It has been an honour for us to hear these directly from him. His opinion is also important to Hungary because Austria is Hungary’s most important economic partner – not only from a historical sense, but right up to the present day. Therefore it is in our interest for Austria to present us with a successful presidency in the coming six months. Hungary has high hopes for the Austrian presidency. We hope that after the Austrian presidency Europe will be stronger than it is now. We hope that after the Austrian presidency this will be a fairer community that is now. And we hope that the European Union will be a safer community than it is now. And so the expectations and hopes which we attach to the work of the Chancellor are extraordinarily great. The V4 and Hungary have always wanted a strong Europe, and for this we need good presidents.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All I would like to say about the meeting is that we were in agreement on the most important questions. We think that Europe must be capable of defending its borders, it must be capable of ensuring security for its citizens, and it must be capable of achieving a situation in which relations between the Member States of the European Union are essentially cooperative rather than confrontational. It follows from this that on the issue of migration we must place emphasis on those areas in which we can achieve agreement. Today there are two such areas. One of them is the issue of border defence, and our old proposal that hotspots – or external refugee camps – must be set up not within the territory of the European Union, but outside it. There is no point in forcing issues on which there is no agreement, such as migrant quotas, because that will never result in cooperation: it will only increase divisions and confrontation. Therefore what we propose is that in the coming weeks and months we should solve the questions related to migration that we are able to solve: that we should place the emphasis on the points on which we agree.
I would also like say that during the Chancellor’s visit today we did not ignore those issues on which there is no agreement between the V4, Hungary and Austria. We spoke openly about the issue of nuclear energy, and we also spoke about the changes implemented in Austria with respect to the system of family allowances. These debates were also conducted in a civilised manner, as is appropriate for five serious countries. I am now more convinced than ever that Central Europe is not simply a part of the European Union, but that its culture and the qualities and courage of its leaders give us every reason to hope that Central Europe will increase rather than diminish the strength of the European Union. We are preparing for the rise of Central Europe; the Slovak presidency of the Council of the European Union will be part of this – as also, I believe, the Austrian presidency will be. So we began today’s meeting with high hopes, and we ended it with high hopes.
I would like to thank the prime ministers for having honoured Hungary with their visit to Budapest.
I would like to make one observation, to clarify something that the prime ministers discussed. The situation is as follows. Tomorrow Donald Tusk will come to Hungary. I’m only mentioning this now because I would like to make it clear that the Visegrád Four – and now I’m not speaking for the Chancellor of Austria – continue to believe that organising and conducting meetings on the issue of migration at prime-ministerial level – the highest-level governmental meetings – is the task of the European Council led by Donald Tusk, and not of the European Commission. We understand that in some countries there are internal political difficulties, but this must not be allowed to lead to ill-considered haste at a European level: the European Union has a complex system of institutions, and acting in haste will lead to chaos. Therefore we believe that it is not the Commission’s task to organise any summit for heads of government: that is the duty of the Council and the President of the Council – who has indeed discharged this task by convening a summit for next Thursday, which will also deal with the issues of asylum and migration. So while we understand that there will also be a mini-summit on Sunday, we want to make it absolutely clear that the prime ministers of the four Visegrád states have agreed that they will not attend it, because it would be improper to attend a meeting with a status which is unclear in terms of the European Union’s internal practices and rules. We shall therefore state our position on migration and other issues at the Brussels summit next Thursday. So we will not be attending the meeting on Sunday. Thank you for your attention.