Prime Minister Viktor Orbán highlighted the necessity for stronger business relations between Hungary and Germany, after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sopron, in western Hungary, on Monday.
“There are no developments in sight that could disturb Hungarian-German ties but there are some factors pressing for strengthening economic cooperation,” Orbán said. He added that the economy was in the focus of his talks and noted that Germany is Hungary’s top investor and trading partner.
Bilateral trade with Germany “breaks a record each year” and German investors have brought the most modern technology to Hungary, Orbán said at a joint press conference with Merkel. He noted that 6,000 German businesses are present in Hungary, employing some 300,000 Hungarians, while there are 17 major development projects by German companies in the pipeline.
Merkel: Trade Ties with Hungary Important
Orbán and Merkel discussed the European Union’s enlargement, and Orbán voiced Hungary’s interest in the Western Balkans countries joining the community as soon as possible. Hungary urges the enlargement process in which Serbia has a key role, he said, adding that speeding up accession talks with Serbia will also serve Europe’s interests.
The talks touched upon cooperative efforts targeting development in Africa because “aid should be delivered where the problem is rooted, to help Africa retain its people” through jointly financed programmes, Orbán said.
Answering a question, Orbán said that central Europe was a contributor to Europe’s economic output and insisted that “the traditional German-French axis is now completed with considerations of the interests of central European peoples”.
This is a new process. Central Europe will have a growing weight in European decision making; ties between Germany and central Europe will have a focal role in preserving Europe’s unity”.
Orbán added that Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s incoming president, will “pose an opportunity for Hungary” to leave “old disputes” behind and start new negotiations.
Hungary Has Given 86.5 Billion to Multinational Companies This Year to Create Jobs
In his answer to another question, Orbán said that Hungary “dismantled the walls 30 years ago so that East Germans could become free and live in security; now we protect our southern border so that Germans can continue living in freedom and security”. Border control is an “obligation” for Hungary, Orbán said, adding “it would be good if Brussels could cover some of the costs”.
Orbán: Europe ‘Has Always Been One’
Orbán said that Hungary’s border control was a key issue in Hungarian-German ties “because the influx of migrants is not over and an ever increasing pressure should be expected from the south”. He insisted that illegal migrants “can only be prevented from flooding Austria and Germany if Hungary keeps protecting its borders”.
On another subject, Orbán dismissed critical remarks on the state of democracy in the country as “politically biased” and “lacking facts”. He encouraged foreign critics to pay a visit “to see how we live”. He added that Hungary is “doing better and better” and its government “has good reason to continue what it has been doing”.
Merkel is in Hungary to attend commemorations marking the 30th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic.
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI