Europe has failed to make decisions in recent years to boost its competitiveness, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Hungarian journalists at Lake Bled, in Slovenia, on Monday. But central European economies, at least, are primed to become success stories, he added.
Participants in the Bled Strategic Forum agreed on three priorities, Orbán said. Serbia should be allowed to join the European Union as soon as possible. “The structure of Europe’s security is incomplete without Serbia,” he said, noting that the country is a transit route for migrants. He said the EU was to blame for leaving Serbia hanging. “Everybody knows that Serbia is important, but Europe’s leadership lacks political courage … to make decisions that cross this important threshold.”
The forum also focused on the link between security and the economy, Orbán said, arguing that “the US and China have left the EU behind because they have the military capacity to ensure continuous scientific renewal.” He said landmark achievements were usually rooted in military research in today’s world. Europe will catch up with world powers only if it creates a joint defence coupled with scientific research, he said.
The competitiveness of European products was also discussed, Orbán said, adding that those goods are no longer as attractive because “their quality is not as good, they are overpriced, the taxes are too high and there is too much red tape”. Europe’s economy needs streamlining to be competitive, he said. “The problems have long been identified but action has not been taken,” he added.
“The good news”, he said, was that under Poland’s leadership, the economies of the Visegrad Group and the region as a whole were hugely promising. Notwithstanding the pandemic and a need to fight hard for jobs and investments, the region’s prospects in terms of international competitiveness appeared brighter than those of the rest of the EU, he insisted.
Orbán said he looked forward to working with Slovenia‘s government, now there was a right-wing, nationalist administration in power. He noted that the two governments were working out the details of a scheme under which the Slovenian government financially supports the Hungarian national minority in Muravidék (Prekmurje) while the Hungarian government does the same in Rábavidék. In other words, he said, there was a personal commitment by the two countries’ respective leaders to improving the fate of Slovenians in Hungary and vice-versa.
Orbán said the left-wing in both countries were attacking the policies of their respective nationalist governments.
Generally, he added, Hungarian-Slovenian cooperation was better than ever.
Featured photo by Vivien Cher Benko/MTI