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Statement by Viktor Orbán following his meeting with Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have had an excellent meeting, in which we touched on a number of important issues. The most important was that of migration and related security questions. We touched on and discussed the subject of the war and, in this context, on matters linked to our economic cooperation. As you have heard, we also had time to turn our attention to the intellectual questions of history and racism. The relationship between our two countries is a special one: we are always glad to come here; a Hungarian always feels at home in Vienna, and I think that many Austrians – perhaps all Austrians – feel at home in Budapest. When times are easy, friendship is easy; when times are hard, friendship is harder. And now times are hard. In today’s meeting I wanted to find out whether we can count on our Austrian friends in the very difficult times ahead, and whether this special historical friendship between our two nations will help us when it comes to the issues of war, migration, energy and economic cooperation. Summing up our talks, I would like to confirm that the answer we received was a positive one, and so I am delighted to be able to tell the citizens of Hungary that we can count on Austria and we can count on cooperation with Austria in the years ahead. And, of course, this will be reciprocated by us.

As regards the contentious issues, “the atom” [nuclear power] is a difficult question. I do not see any chance of us scrambling to a common position on that – unless Austria allows us to build some Hungarian hydroelectric power stations in Austria. That would be very helpful. But we do not have the kind of rivers and the opportunities that our Austrian friends have, and so the Hungarian energy system cannot do without nuclear energy. Therefore this debate will remain on the agenda. We will try to cooperate and give each other all the mutual security guarantees that we are able to.

I have also been able to confirm that on the most important questions of an intellectual nature, anti-Semitism and racism, we are in full agreement: my thinking is identical with the thinking of the Austrian Chancellor. Moreover, Hungary not only thinks in this way, but is proud of its achievements: Hungary has achieved fantastic results in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, and our government in particular has been at the forefront of this fight. On this matter there is zero tolerance in Hungary, such acts are prosecutable by law, and neither do they have any place whatsoever in political discourse. This is why, if doubts arise on any sensitive issues with historical, intellectual or civilizational dimensions, I have asked the Chancellor to always interpret the news about Hungary in terms of cultural considerations. In Hungary it is beyond the pale for any political issue to be approached on a biological basis; what is possible is a cultural approach. For me this is not a simple matter, of course, because you are aware that I am perhaps the only openly anti-immigration politician in the entire European Union. So I do not use rhetorical stratagems, drop hints or mince my words, but I have a very clear, direct position. I therefore define myself as an anti-migration and anti-immigration politician: I do not want Hungary to become an immigrant country, and I do not want migration to strengthen in Hungary. This is the position I have always taken and will continue to take. For us the basis of this is not biological, and it is not a racial issue: it is a cultural issue, and we simply want to maintain our civilization as it is today. In this respect our situation is different from that of Austria, because the amount of immigration and migration in your country and the problems it causes are on a completely different scale to those in Hungary. I would like to make it clear that we shall always defend our borders, and in so doing we shall prevent any kind of illegal migration from affecting Austria. So although my views on immigration and migration may, in philosophical terms, differ from those of the Chancellor, we agree on the concrete actions to be taken – given that it is also in Austria’s interest for Hungary to defend its own southern borders. You have to live with the fact that we are your fortress captains on the Serbian-Hungarian border. If we do not defend our borders there, you will see hundreds of thousands of migrants and immigrants arriving illegally on your border. The only way you can avoid this is for Hungary to defend its own southern borders. We would prefer it if we did not have to do this, and if Serbia could protect its own southern borders – because then the conflict would not be on the Serbian-Hungarian border or on the Hungarian-Austrian border. So it is in the interests of us all for Serbia to be able to defend its own borders as far south as possible. This is why I have initiated this meeting, which I hope we can put together in order to make proposals to one another and to Brussels on how we can defend our borders against illegal migration. So I want to clarify the fact that this is my position. I sometimes express myself in a way which is open to misinterpretation, but I have asked the Chancellor to kindly put all such related information within a cultural context, because in Hungary these phrases, utterances and the position that I represent constitute a cultural and civilizational position. I would like to reiterate that I am proud of the achievements that Hungary has been able to register in the fight against racism in recent years.

We also talked about the war. It is clear to us that this war cannot be won in its current form. I said this openly to the Chancellor. The Hungarian assessment is that the concept of NATO supporting Ukraine with weapons and training specialists, while the Ukrainians fight the Russians, is a construction that can now be seen as one which will not result in a Ukrainian victory. This is a strategy that needs to be changed. Of course we recognise that Hungary is not in a position to change an entire Western strategy; but we would like to indicate to our Western friends that without a change of strategy there will be no peace. And without peace we will be unable to solve any problems; we will have no energy and the whole of the European Union will be pushed into a wartime economy. The first sign of a wartime economy is Brussels’ declaration of an energy emergency. The first sign of a wartime economy is the need to restrict access to certain goods. And if we do not do something to achieve peace, we will drift into a wartime economy. This will be much worse than the situation we now imagine, in which the prices of some goods rise and some goods are in short supply. If things continue like this, we will have much bigger problems than that. If the war continues, it is not clear how we will avoid a recession across the entire European Union. And the recession will have appalling consequences, because it will also bring unemployment. It will not be a case of having to turn down our heating a degree or two: if there is a recession, there will be unemployment. This will blight us economically and it will blight us in terms of political stability. So we must do everything we can for peace. This was the Hungarian message to Austria today.

On the economy, I thanked the Chancellor for the fantastic performance of Austrian companies in Hungary. His figures [for Hungarian companies in Austria] were more modest than mine, because we calculate that there are 2,000 Austrian companies operating in Hungary, with these 2,000 Austrian companies forming the second largest investment community in Hungary. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that without Austrian investors the Hungarian economy would not be functioning today, but it certainly would not be functioning at the level we now see. And it is in Hungary’s vital interest for further Austrian investments to be made in our country. I have not hidden from the Chancellor our desire to be present in the Austrian economy not only as employees, but also – sooner or later – as investors. I very much hope that strengthening Hungarian companies will have the opportunity to become investors in the Austrian economy.

In summary, my meeting with the Chancellor was forward-looking, it strengthened our strategic alliance and presaged cooperation on concrete issues. For this I am grateful to the Chancellor.

Thank you very much.