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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement following his meeting with Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babiš

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Greetings to everyone. We have already held several working meetings, but this is the first official visit that I’ve had the pleasure of making at the invitation of Prime Minister Babiš. I am grateful for this, and I thank you for the opportunity to be here. As for personal issues, I’d just like to say that I’ve been following the career of your prime minister for a long time, and I have great respect for his record as finance minister. We Hungarians have always striven to take note of things that work well in other countries and learn from them. So my current visit may be an official visit, but I make no secret of the fact that I’d like to observe a few governmental methods, solutions and economic policy measures that we – and I – will then be able to employ at home. The second reason I was happy to accept your prime minister’s invitation is that in recent years the character of European politics has changed dramatically. I already count as a veteran, having been involved in politics within constitutional ramparts since 1990, and I’m serving in my thirteenth year as prime minister. So I have a vantage point from which to view European politics – which in most countries in recent years has coarsened. This used to be a respectable occupation, but today it is more reminiscent of the art of cage fighting. I’m not complaining and don’t want to lament it: I’m merely stating the fact that European politics has become much more aggressive, and that on this difficult terrain only the brave can stay on their feet. I am glad that in recent years the Czech Republic and the Czech government have developed an extremely courageous standpoint on several extremely complicated and difficult issues. This provides a good chance for the two countries to work in cooperation and enable them to follow their own path, even with regard to difficult issues. So here today I’m glad to be the guest of the courageous prime minister of a courageous country.

With regard to the issue of mass immigration, I would like to repeat the Hungarian position: if we permit mass migration to take place, this modern-day phenomenon will transform the character of countries and transform the quality of our lives. The gravity of this question relates to whether we want to transform our countries and whether we will allow our way of life to be transformed; and in relation to these issues I believe that decisions must not be made without asking the people. The problem in Europe today arises from the fact that people are unable to express their opinions – or if they do express them, they are ignored by their leaders. This means that European politics is becoming increasingly elitist. Here in Central Europe, however, we want to remain democrats, and accordingly we will not make any decisions in relation to the issue of migration that are at odds with the will of our own citizens. In European debates on this issue I am not representing my own personal opinion, but the opinion of the Hungarian people, who do not want to transform their country and do not want their way of life to be transformed. In fact the importance of migration points beyond itself, because it is putting the democratic nature of our political systems to the test.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to say a few words about our negotiations. We confirmed that in recent years Czech-Hungarian relations have moved forward into a new dimension. Nicely and quietly, without fanfare, the figures for economic cooperation are improving at an unprecedented rate: for instance, trade between the two countries has already increased by 14 per cent this year; and its growth last year also exceeded 10 per cent. I can safely say that it has been a very long time since there was such a high level of cooperation between the Czech and Hungarian economies – if there has ever been. The value of our trade, our trade flow, has surpassed 9 billion euros. We are also quietly investing increasing volumes in each other’s countries: there are major investments – major Czech investments – in Hungary; and there are Hungarian investments in the Czech Republic. I am glad that we are both positive about this, and that we are supporting mutual investment in our countries. We are glad that the Hungarian pharmaceuticals industry is performing well in the Czech Republic, and we are glad to be present in the Czech energy sector; and we are glad that you, in turn, are present in Hungarian agriculture, and most recently have also established a presence in the Hungarian telecommunications system.

I would like to say a few words in support of what Prime Minister Babiš said about defence industry cooperation. Defence industry cooperation is not just a business issue: it has depth, a depth of trust. Defence industry cooperation can only be established between countries that trust each other: who have mutual trust. The fact that defence industry cooperation is expanding indicates the existence of trust between our two countries. Without going into specific detail, all I would say now is that we’ve purchased a very high volume of firearm production licences, which we will use in Hungary. We have purchased training and reconnaissance aircraft from you, and will continue to do so in the future. It seems to me that this is a dynamically expanding area of cooperation between the two countries.

I am glad that the Czech Republic agrees that we need to establish some kind of high-speed rail link between the capital cities of the Visegrád Group countries. The feasibility study on this has already been ordered, and it will be complete by 2020. I would be happy for us to be able to realise such a huge joint programme. I am also glad that several Czech enterprises are involved in the operation and development of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant. Both countries believe that we cannot assure the functioning of our economies and will not be able to successfully fight the battle against climate change without nuclear energy. Both countries believe that we need this type of energy, and I am glad that our businesses are also mutually involved in this sector of industry.

As for the practical side of migration, as opposed to questions of principle, I think it is a major success that the V4 have taken joint action and offered a significant amount of funding for the implementation of programmes aimed at preventing migration from Libya. From this funding we can contribute to training the Libyan coast guard service and to financing the purchase of hardware – primarily ships – facilitating the work of the coast guard. And I support Prime Minister Babiš’s proposal to extend similar assistance in the future to Morocco and Tunisia. And finally I am glad to confirm that we share the same assessment of the UN migration compact – or pact. I am convinced that this is a misconceived document, which sets down principles that will in fact encourage illegal migration rather than reduce it. And contrary to many arguments stating that these UN agreements are not legally binding, the reality is that all of these UN documents later serve as regularly cited core references in specific cases – primarily in legal procedures. Accordingly, whether they admit to it or not, anyone who signs this compact – this UN agreement – will be subjecting their own citizens to very grave risks. We Hungarians shall not be signing it, and we are glad that in this we and the Czech Republic are in complete agreement. Overall, although we are still only mid-way through our talks, I’d like to say that I’ve received a friendly welcome, the talks have taken place in a spirit of alliance, and we have high hopes that we will indeed succeed in reaching agreement on several specific issues.

Thank you for your attention.