At a press conference held together with the Serbian Prime Minister, Mr Orbán said we must defend Europe because the American failure in Afghanistan has resulted in a situation which could cause a migrant wave involving many millions of migrants during the period ahead, and if this occurs via the land route, it will most probably put Serbia and Hungary into an extremely difficult situation.
He added that those who supported migration earlier – governments, NGOs, Soros organisations – now continue to support or would support migrants coming from Afghanistan the same as before. This, however, is very much in contrast to the best interests of Hungary and Serbia. Hungary is “a thousand per cent” committed to Serbia’s EU membership also because without this the security of Europe’s interior cannot be guaranteed, Mr Orbán stressed.
“We’re defending Serbia, we’re defending Hungary, we’re defending ourselves, but we all know that these migrants want to live not in Serbia and not in Hungary; they’re heading for Germany. Therefore, when we are now defending ourselves as we have done so many times before in history, we’re also defending Europe, primarily Germany. And this is the situation even if we can’t expect any kind of recognition, let alone gratitude in return,” he said.
In answer to a question, the Prime Minister confirmed we should expect significant migratory pressure as already at present there are around 4 million internal migrants in Afghanistan, and if these people find a way out and set out, then via Turkey they will appear in the region of Serbia and Hungary.
Therefore, according to Mr Orbán, Hungary and Serbia will have to seek to create common defence lines as far South as possible in order to stop migration. However, the big question is how Germany will relate to this renewed great pressure; whether they will want it stopped, or will again want to open a humanitarian corridor.
He took the view that examples from history show that whenever the interior of Europe was under threat and Europe had to be defended, “they never rushed to our aid” but instead they designated this region as a buffer zone. “This is what they did for centuries. And I see no sign of any change in this mentality,” he stated. He said Hungary defended the Germans during the 2015 crisis, but meanwhile “the Germans kept shooting us in the back” with rule of law procedures, and also in connection with the building of the fence. “We can only count on ourselves, but we’re strong enough to rise to this challenge, and we’ll take care of it,” he stated.
Mr Orbán pointed out that “Hungary or Serbia will never be turned into a refugee camp. They will never install hotspots here. Security issues will never be allowed to force the issue of economic growth off the agenda, we simply can’t afford this.”
Before the press conference, the Hungarian and Serbian Prime Ministers signed an agreement on amicable relations and strategic partnership cooperation. Regarding this, Mr Orbán said this is a long-term commitment on the part of Hungary, a strategic friendship or partnership agreement which will represent a safe point of reference amidst the ever-changing flow of foreign policy in the decades ahead.
He highlighted that the economy was at the centre of the agreement, and in the cooperation of the two countries, connections – border crossing stations, economic relations, border controls, roads, the connection of railway lines and navigating routes – constituted the key category. He said the refurbishment of the railway line between Budapest and Belgrade will be completed by 2025, and so Eastern goods arriving in the ports of Greece and Western goods bound for the ports of Greece will transit through Hungary and Serbia.
Regarding border crossing stations, Mr Orbán said the ever more intensive economic relations between the two countries have resulted in ever increasing cargo traffic, and we have difficulty in catching up with this phenomenon at our border crossing stations. This in turn has resulted in backlogs of traffic and waits of up to several hours. Therefore, the crossing capacity of the Tompa and Röszke border crossing stations will be radically increased in the future; the necessary projects will be completed by the end of 2022. They are also working on turning the Hercegszántó border crossing station into a crossing point that is also capable of handling cargo traffic.
The Prime Minister said the building of a new type of connection between the gas pipelines of the two countries – an interconnector – is of strategic significance for Hungary’s energy security. This interconnector will allow the conveyance of 8.5 billion cubic metres of gas to Hungary.
In addition to the agreement signed by the Prime Ministers, ministers of the two countries also signed an agreement on cooperation between young farmers; an agreement was signed by representatives of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology and the Serbian ministry of trade about cooperation between the two ministries; further, agreements were also signed on joint patrol services near the border, Hungarian expert support with Serbia’s accession to the EU, a Budapest-Belgrade hydrofoil project, and diplomatic training.