People of Hungary and Slovakia “seek mutual respect, they want cooperation and they want to achieve success together,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after talks with Igor Matovič, his Slovak counterpart, in Budapest on Friday, while the Slovak Prime Minister said his country’s aim is to ensure that ethnic Hungarians “feel citizens with equal rights.”
At a joint press conference after the talks, Orbán thanked Matovič for his gestures towards Slovakia Hungarians, as well as for Slovakia’s cooperation during the coronavirus epidemic. He said that Hungary is proud of its Slovak minority, noting that the government has quadrupled its state support since 2010.
Referring to upcoming “events of historic significance,” Orbán mentioned the inauguration of a new bridge spanning the river Danube between Komárom and Komarno, three bridges across the Ipoly river and three new road crossings to be completed by 2022, as well as integrating the electric grids of Hungary and Slovakia and significantly increasing the capacity of the two countries’ gas interconnector. He added that Hungary and Slovakia would contribute to stability in central Europe through those projects.
Orbán called bilateral ties “fantastic”, adding that Slovakia was Hungary’s third largest trading partner. He also said that the Hungarian government had opened a 600 million euro loan fund with Eximbank to promote Slovak investments in Hungary. The Prime Minister asked his counterpart to
further support Hungarian-Slovak ties and maintain his good intentions towards the Hungarian community in Slovakia.
Answering a question, Orb’n said he had not raised the issue of the Trianon peace treaty at the talks, adding that he appreciated Matovič’s “gesture and touching remarks” on the subject. “Having the same position on Trianon would be impossible;… each side will hopefully come to terms with that subject so that it does not hinder future cooperation”.
Orbán said that “Hungarians must live together with history’s injustice, because Trianon, from Hungary, will never look as a fair treaty.” He added that Hungarians, however, “have a clear view of history” and are aware that they should build ties with neighbours in a way that events that happened a hundred years ago are not an obstacle.
The PM said he had “accepted his Slovak colleague’s hand” and emphasized his readiness to “leave the past behind and build a future.” He added that building a future requires partners and Slovakia could be a “natural, obvious, and friendly partner.”
Furthermore, Orbán said that “Hungarians are not determined by genetics but by their language and culture”, and asked Matovič
to be a good prime minister for ethnic Hungarians (…) who understands that language and culture must never be suppressed because they are more important for Hungarians than life.
Orbán said that “we are the most western of eastern people,” and argued that Hungarians are the only surviving people of the masses that had left the East for the West. He concluded his speech by saying “we are the last remnants of the old steppe, and have subscribed for survival; we must be accepted the way we are.”
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič said at the press conference that Slovakia will promote development of its regions irrespective of the ethnic composition of their population. He added he wished to see
everyone teaching their children their own mother tongue, while they don’t need to fear any drawbacks.
He said it was “natural” that the Hungarian government was monitoring the situation of ethnic kin in Slovakia.
Concerning the 1920 Trianon peace treaty, Matovič said that “we did not write history, but the future is in our hands.” History cannot be changed, he said, but added that he had met Orbán with the aim of “looking to the future.”
He added that the ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia enrich Slovakia with their culture and they can also strengthen Visegrád Group cooperation.
Matovič expressed thanks for Hungary’s help in transporting Slovaks home during the novel coronavirus epidemic and thanked Orbán for the resolute steps to open borders.
featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI