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Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán before his talks with Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Mr. Netanyahu, My Dear Friend,

We are very grateful to you for the visit you paid us in Budapest last year; we are grateful that you and your wife came to us. Thank you for not just spending hours in Budapest, but days. You honoured us in this way, and it has strengthened the Hungarian people’s feelings of friendship for Israel. Thank you for allowing me to reciprocate that visit today. Hungarians are a romantic people, who like symbols, and for us it is significant that my first official visit here as Hungarian prime minister is in the year that sees the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. If you will allow me, I’d also like to say something about our personal relationship. I feel that our outstanding Israeli-Hungarian relations are in part thanks to our cooperation, and my explanation for this is that each of our two countries is led by a patriotic prime minister. In our relationship I see the evidence that a Jewish patriot and a Hungarian patriot can easily understand each other. Next year will see the thirtieth anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between our two countries. We shall celebrate this, and we would like to be able to celebrate it here as well.

I would like to inform the public that the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and I have the same views on several important issues – such as security, the question of terrorism, the defence of borders and modern-day anti-Semitism. We agree that security is the most important issue, that every nation has the right to its own security, and that it is our duty to provide security for our citizens. Prime Minister, today the continent in which we live, Europe, is afflicted by migration and terrorism. Terrorists are sending their people to Western Europe under the cover of migration. We must take action against these developments. I must also frankly point out, Prime Minister, that in Europe potent forms of modern-day anti-Semitism have emerged, and that today we are living in a time when anti-Semitism is rising in Western Europe, while it is decreasing in Central Europe. We stand ready to cooperate with you in the fight against anti-Semitism. We also see opposition to the State of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism. I would like to reassure the Prime Minister that in Hungary there is a zero tolerance approach towards anti-Semitism. In Hungary citizens of Jewish origin are under the protection of the Government, and we are proud that in Budapest and in Hungary people who openly declare their Jewish roots can also feel safe. You yourself are aware that we have done a great many things to promote the cultural revival of the Jewish community in Budapest and in Hungary. I will not list these now, but we are rehabilitating graveyards, renovating synagogues and supporting education.

I would also like to say a few words about our diplomatic endeavours. I would like to make it clear that we will always act with the aim of ensuring that international organisations make fair, balanced and unbiased decisions in relation to Israel; we therefore stand ready to continue our close cooperation with Israel in international forums. Regarding the economy, I will simply repeat what you said, to add to its force: two hundred Israeli businesses operate in Hungary, providing jobs for five thousand people. They operate in the field of modern technology, and this opens up a new path for cooperation between the two states.

I have two requests for the Prime Minister. Next year we would like to organise a cultural season here in Israel: with all modesty, I can say that we have plenty to showcase. I ask the Prime Minister to support us in this. We would also like to create a museum for the Hungarian-speaking community here in Israel. We began this project in Safed, but we would like to relocate it to Herzliya because we also believe that the story began in Budapest. We are not asking for money – only goodwill and support.

Let me repeat: I am grateful to be here, and the people of Hungary see this as a great honour.