Prime Ministers of the Visegrád countries (V4: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) and President of the European Council Charles Michel had talks on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the V4.
At the press conference held at the meeting, in answer to a question from the public service media, Mr Orbán highlighted that it will take loyalty and solidarity for the V4 to fulfil its mission also in the future.
He believes that Slovakia plays a key, strategic role in this cooperation, this is evident based on the geographical facts, but also because Hungary only neighbours Slovakia from among the Visegrád countries. It is Slovakia that connects the Northern and Southern parts of Central Europe together, he added.
The Prime Minister stressed that it is essential for the members of the country group to remain together and united also in the future.
He said they are now celebrating the 30th anniversary, but they have a history of many hundred years because the first Visegrád cooperation was forged by the then heads of Central European states, and it is this historical perspective that lends this cooperation its seriousness. This region is successful, “in addition to the historical perspective, it is this that lends the current cooperation its validity for the present,” he said.
Mr Orbán recalled that 30 years ago he was a Member of the Parliament which gave the Hungarian government of the day authorisation to engage in the Visegrád cooperation. He still remembers the debates, the uplifting contributions, and the time when everyone believed that the future lay in Central European cooperation. There were grave problems then, but they had the time and the strength to reinforce Central European cooperation with one of the first parliamentary gestures, he added.
He stressed that this is the European economy’s most dynamically developing region.
Regarding the issue of the vaccine against the disease brought on by Covid-19, the Prime Minister said speed is the top consideration for Hungary, we must swiftly procure vaccines in compliance with the relevant safety regulations and with guarantees regarding effectiveness; speed is more important than price.
He pointed out that the issue of the vaccine should be depoliticised because there are “geopolitical debates, differences in history and taste,” but these should not be voiced in the debate about the vaccine. “There is only one kind of vaccine: that which cures people swiftly and effectively,” and at a time when people’s lives are at stake, it is irresponsible to politicise this issue, he said.
The Prime Minister also said the countries of Central Europe know that there are countries much bigger than themselves, but they want to be competitive with those countries as well, and this is possible if they are always a step ahead. Therefore, at the meeting they also spoke about the restarting of the economy after the crisis; it is important to share with one another the experiences of political and economic measures, he pointed out.
He said there is a need for close consultation because recovery is not automatic; it requires hard work on the part of governments.
According to Mr Orbán, the V4 are lucky because there are two former finance ministers among the Visegrád Prime Ministers, and it is to be hoped that their experience will be reflected in a successful economic recovery policy.
He observed that he is grateful to Charles Michel for attending the meeting. In his person, they found “an understanding mind and willingness to listen”. The cooperation of the Benelux States has always been an inspiration for the V4, he added.
Charles Michel was Prime Minister of Belgium before he was elected President of the European Council.