At a press conference held together with the Slovak prime minister, greeting Mr Fico who has recently returned to office, Mr Orbán said “we have waited for this meeting for years.” We first had a bilateral meeting in April 2012, and this is now the 33rd bilateral meeting which is perhaps a European record, he observed.
He stressed that continuity, security and stability were the most important political values, and therefore such a long-term relationship was a great asset that served the benefit of both nations. The histories of the two peoples cannot be separated from each other, and deep down there is a very strong civilisational bond, the world of Latin Christianity, he pointed out.
He added that “minimum 99 per cent” of the interests of Hungary and Slovakia “point in the same direction;” sovereignty is important for both countries.
As regards Hungary – and “in this I think there is a shared view” – we are not happy about the Brussels superstate initiatives; we are not happy at all about aspirations that seek to legitimise illegal migration. We want to protect our borders, and we want to be able to say whom we allow into our countries, he added.
The Hungarian Prime Minister thanked Mr Fico for the fact that Slovak police officers regularly help to protect Hungary’s southern borders, and indicated that in return Hungary was happy to take part in the fulfilment of air policing responsibilities in Slovak airspace from the beginning of 2024.
Regarding economic security, he said today Slovakia is the 3rd most important trade partner for Hungary; the volume of bilateral trade has been permanently in the EUR 15 billion bracket annually for some time.
He also drew attention to the fact that Hungary provides transit for Slovakia’s supply of crude oil, while in return one quarter of Hungary’s electricity comes from Slovakia.
He recalled that in the past few years both governments had looked upon the development of connections as a top priority: bridges, railway lines, roads, gas and electricity pipelines have been built. The agreement concluded with Mr Fico in 2014 has been fully implemented; thanks to this, the number of border crossing points between the two countries has increased from 20 to 40 which significantly contributes to the “perceivable” improvement of quality of life for the people living in the vicinity of the border, he highlighted.
He said they agreed on creating a second Hungarian-Slovak cooperation package; to this end, they will set up a consultation committee.
In answer to questions from members of the press, Mr Orbán spoke about an easy situation in the context of the presidency of the European Council (EC) as both Hungary and he himself have already fulfilled this task, in times which were no less “volatile.” We have experience about how to enforce our national position whilst ensuring that the role of mediator to be fulfilled as part of the EC presidency remain intact, he stressed.
He added that he had agreed with his Slovak partner that as part of the preparations for the presidency, the Hungarian minister responsible for European affairs would closely cooperate with his Slovak counterpart.
“There is no doubt that this job must be done by us,” he observed.
Regarding the departure of the incumbent president of the European Council, he said he is happy to fulfil any task that may emerge, but neither he himself, nor his party has any ambition for any European office.
In answer to another question, he also spoke about the EU summit to be held on 1 February, recalling that there will be two issues on the agenda: how to help Ukraine and how to amend the EU’s budget. Hungary argues for the separation of the two issues because we would like the financial assistance to be provided for Ukraine to be disbursed outside the EU’s budget, he stressed.
He admitted that it was necessary to provide help for Ukraine; however, in his view, this should be done in a way which does not harm the EU’s budget. Giving EUR 50 billion from the EU’s budget for four years in advance would do just that, and there is a threat that the funds to be provided for the Member States, too, would end up in Ukraine, he warned.
If we want to create a financial instrument for Ukraine, we should create it outside the budget, he suggested.
He highlighted that Hungary would not like to take out a loan collectively, but is ready to provide Ukraine with the amount falling on it from the national budget. If Brussels accepts this proposal, Ukraine will receive assistance from outside the budget; however, if they do not, “I will be compelled to stop this process,” he stated.
In the context of the amendment of the EU budget, he said Hungary is able to support every one of the points that are important for Slovakia.
Hungary is ready to support Ukraine, and will take care of this from its own budget, but does not want to take out a loan together with anyone and does not want this item to be placed inside the budget, he said in summary.