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Relations with Slovakia have never been as good as they are today

At a press conference held together with the Slovak Prime Minister, Mr Orbán stressed that after Germany and Austria, Slovakia is Hungary’s most important trade partner with a volume of trade in excess of EUR 10 billion. He added that this year the growth of trade is already above 9 per cent.

He said they are pleased that Slovak investors have also appeared in Hungary, and so economic movement has become mutual. He highlighted that it is splendid news that even during the difficult year of 2020, Hungary was able to welcome investors from Slovakia.

“We have drawn the balance of our cooperation in the past ten years. With due modesty, we have to say that our relations have never been as good as they are today,” he said.

He added that this requires two countries that regard themselves as prosperous and successful. The Prime Minister described Slovakia’s performance in the past ten years as “a fantastic success story,” highlighting that in addition to each country’s own achievements, there are also common success stories.

The Hungarian Prime Minister indicated that Hungary and Slovakia “sing from the same hymn book” as regards the enlargement of the EU in the Western Balkans, see the issue of migration in the same light, and the Visegrád cooperation is important for both countries. He observed that the V4 will meet on Wednesday in Katowice, and Hungary will make every effort to coordinate the cooperation of the four countries as well as possible.

Listing the common achievements of the two countries, the Prime Minister mentioned that the Komárom bridge had already been inaugurated, the motorway connecting Miskolc with Kosice (Kassa) would be completed soon, and next week they would lay the foundation stone of a new bridge over the Ipoly. He highlighted that up to 2023 six new border crossing points will be created between the two countries.

He also said elements of the electric power network connecting the two countries together have been operational since May, the gas pipelines are also connected together, and they are currently working on the enlargement of the interconnector capacity. Connecting the capitals of the two countries together by a fast railway line, including railway connections to Prague and Warsaw, is another ambitious plan, he added.

Regarding national communities, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Slovaks living in Hungary will receive every support they need for the preservation of their cultural, educational and political identity. He added that Hungary will contribute with a large sum to the establishment of a Slovak cultural centre in Budapest.

He highlighted that as this is a sensitive issue, he asked the Slovak Prime Minister to let him know if he sees any difficulties regarding the Slovaks living in Hungary and to discuss these issues directly. Mr Orbán thanked the Slovak Prime Minister for his “generosity,” for showing similar openness as regards the Hungarian community living in Slovakia, and expressed hope that the Slovak and Hungarian ethnic groups will connect the two nations together, rather than divide them.

He took the view that we now only need a bit of luck, and then the two countries will be able to show the world something that not many expect at present also in the department of the restarting of the economy.

He stressed that at this time, vaccination is still the number one priority as the pandemic is only over for those who have had themselves vaccinated. Regrettably, many people in Hungary have not yet had themselves vaccinated and continue to remain at risk, he observed. The Hungarian Prime Minister expressed hope that the restarting of the economy in both countries will be successful “and we will have another common success story to share”.

In answer to a question, Mr Orbán said the government will be required to adopt unexpected decisions resulting in robust and serious interventions, in which case we could reach a 5.5 per cent economic growth and families could be refunded their taxes.

The Prime Minister cautioned everyone regarding the rate of economic growth and indicated that unless the operational group responsible for the restarting of the economy headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó presents to the government 15 to 20 proposals for crucial measures that may perhaps surprise many and unless the government approves them in the next week or two, there will not be a 5.5 per cent economic growth in Hungary. “The economy won’t grow by 5.5 per cent of its own accord, to achieve this, we need to offer governmental motivations and induce the desired effects,” he said.

He also said it is a grave problem in the construction industry that there is an increase above 100 per cent in the prices of construction materials, and in consequence, the state grants offered for refurbishment projects are immediately “syphoned away” from the people by the companies manufacturing construction materials. He stated that this was unacceptable, adding that measures would be required to counter this process, and he would like the government to discuss these as early as this week.

Answering a question relating to European climate protection targets and the carbon tax, he confirmed that the government believes it is a bad idea to levy taxes on family homes and family cars in the interest of climate protection. He indicated that so far the countries of the V4 have concordantly spoken up against this, and he sincerely hopes that this agreement will remain intact.

In answer to a question about the debate on the future of Europe, he said instead of merely listening to the debate, Hungary will state its opinion. He pointed out that the advertisements published in foreign newspapers and journals lay down the official position of the Hungarian government. He added that the Hungarian Parliament, too, will take part in the debate; according to the information of the Speaker of the House, Parliament will intend to adopt a document on this subject-matter in the autumn.

The Prime Minister described participation in the debate as “a matter of honour,” and expressed hope that in conclusion of the debate, a European assembly will be convened where, based on the experiences gathered, the parties will be able to start talks about the relevant amendment of the Treaties of the European Union and how to adjust them to the future.