Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described his talks with Slovak counterpart Péter Pellegrini on Tuesday as a “meeting of two successful countries in a successful region”.
Slovak-Hungarian cooperation and the Visegrad Group partnership contribute to the success of a common Europe, Orbán said after the meeting. The V4 is no longer an alliance of poor countries but composed of countries whose economies are characterised by “dynamism, financial discipline and great plans”, he added. Orbán expressed thanks to Pellegrini for Slovakia’s help in border protection and for Bratislava standing in support of Hungary “in the midst of a great international storm”. He said that after linking the gas pipelines of the two countries, work has now started to connect their electricity grids.
As regards joint V4 goals, Orbán mentioned the construction of the high-speed railway connecting Budapest and Warsaw that will also pass through Bratislava. The prime minister expressed his satisfaction over the Slovak government’s measures concerning Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian community. These have included steps to keep Hungarian-language primary schools running, the display of dual-language signs at train stations and subsidies provided through the minority cultural fund, he noted.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described his talks with Slovak counterpart Péter Pellegrini on Tuesday as a
“meeting of two successful countries in a successful region.”
Orbán hails new Italian government’s approach to migration
Viktor Orbán hailed his Italian counterpart’s decision not to allow a rescue vessel crammed with migrants to dock in Italian ports. “Finally”, he said, adding that it had been “so depressing” to hear for years that it was impossible to protect Europe’s maritime borders that “one practically lost the will to live”.
The prime minister pointed out that Australia, too, was capable of protecting its borders. But now the will to protect the maritime borders that had been missing in Italy has returned, he said, adding that this could bring about a change in Europe’s migration policy. Orbán assured the new Italian government of his support.
Orbán: Hungarian-German relations ‘in great shape’
Asked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comment that Hungary’s border fence also protects Germany, Orbán said Hungarian-German relations
“are in great shape,”
adding that he had never been in favour of pitting the two countries or their leaders against each other. Orbán asked Germany to be tolerant of Hungary, arguing that – though it is against its interests – Hungary accepts that there are Schengen countries – like Germany – that have taken in hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Germany should be tolerant of Hungary’s decision not to allow migrants onto its territory, Orbán said. “If we are tolerant towards each other, we can preserve our strategic partnership,” he said and expressed the conviction that common sense would continue to prevail in German-Hungarian relations.
Orbán: EU Budget last before Hungary becomes net contributor
Asked about the European Union’s draft budget for the 2021-2027 funding period, Orbán said Hungary was treating this budget as the last one in which the country would not be a net contributor. “After this one, we will transition to another club.” After this next funding cycle, Hungary will be paying more into the EU budget than it will receive, he insisted. Orbán argued that the end of the next funding cycle would coincide with the end of a historical era in which the central European region had to catch up with the “historically more fortunate” European countries. Hungary therefore wants a fair EU budget.
It also acknowledges that “everyone’s budget will shrink” after Britain’s exit from the bloc, but this should be implemented in a fair way so that “it affects countries in similar positions in similar ways”, he said. Orbán said that though “every forint counts” for Hungary, the Hungarian economy was “long past the stage when EU funds were fundamental in shaping the country’s situation”. In fact, it can be said that Hungary is more in need of a market than money from Europe, Orbán said, arguing that “if we have a market, we can make a living from it.” The prime minister called the preservation of the common market the number one issue in the current debate, saying that the amount of funds to be distributed to member states was only secondary.
‘Time to evaluate constitution’
Asked about the government’s planned revision of the constitution announced last week, Orbán said that since it has been seven years since the adoption of the constitution, it was time to evaluate the fundamental law and see if there was anything to be done with it. The government will set up a team of constitutional lawyers to carry out the revision and make recommendations if necessary, he said. The prime minister noted that the revision will take a year to a year and a half. “Once every decade it’s worth evaluating if the constitution serves its function,” Orbán said, adding that in his opinion the answer was “more yes than no”.
featured image: PM Orbán with Slovakian counterpart Peter Pellegrini in Budapest; image: Koszticsák Szilárd/ MTI