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Slovak commercial television channel TA3’s interview with Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán and Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini

Viktor Orbán: Good afternoon,

Norbert Dolinsky: I’d like to welcome our guests, the Hungarian and Slovak prime ministers, to TA3; we’re filming in Budapest. On my left is Mr. Orbán – Good afternoon; and on my right is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovakia. Gentlemen, I’m pleased that you’ve made time to be with us. I especially thank Mr. Orbán for hosting us directly after the Visegrád 4 summit, which was also attended by Austria. Gentlemen, naturally we’ll talk about today’s summit, but we won’t ignore other issues within bilateral relations, which are very important for Hungary and Slovakia. Prime Minister Orbán, as I’ve mentioned, we’re meeting directly after the V4+Austria meeting in Budapest. The V4 is not a substitute for the European Union, but it is as a kind of partner organisation. As regards the EU, what significance do you attach to the partnership? Today you’ve also handed over Hungary’s presidency of the V4, so it would also be useful if you gave us an assessment of your presidency.

Viktor Orbán: This was a good little presidency. I believe that we’ve achieved some fine results. We should view the Hungarian presidency – and also the upcoming Slovak presidency – as part of a historical process. The essence of this historical process is that Central Europe is strengthening, cooperation among its countries is becoming ever closer, its competitiveness is improving, and its economic performance is increasing. Slovakia plays an especially prominent role in this team. While we are defending ourselves against migration, we have a strong cultural identity which we are not prepared to give up, a certain kind of homogeneity: there is diversity, but also homogeneity. At the same time, in a number of other regions of the EU there are problems with competitiveness, they’re unable to protect their borders, and millions of migrants have appeared. So they’re struggling with a host of problems. Europe must now create co-existence between its various regions: the West with the East and the North with the South. In this regard Central Europe is a special region, in which we – personally, but also our countries – have all invested many years of hard work to enable the region to rise and to excel. I see this as the most important thing, and the Prime Minister has also promised to continue this work, in which I wish him every success.

Prime Minister, you mentioned several topics that we’re going to address, but now I’ll turn to the Slovak prime minister, Mr. Pellegrini. You have symbolically taken over the Presidency of the V4 from Mr. Orbán. As it takes over the V4 presidency, what are the priorities of the Republic of Slovakia?

Peter Pellegrini: First of all, I must say that we have just come to the end of an excellent presidency, led by the Hungarian prime minister, Mr. Orbán. The V4 has performed extremely well; it was good to hear our voice on the European scene, for which I express my sincere gratitude. We have plenty of work to do in order to continue this dynamism and efficiency. Therefore the main slogan of Slovakia’s presidency is “a dynamic Visegrád for a dynamic Europe”. This means that we must clearly declare the following: we form part of Europe, and we will open up discussion on positive, pro-Europe topics; on the other hand, we also want to clearly state the position of the people who work and live here, and how we envisage the future of Europe. We are not simply passive recipients for various proposals and instructions from other Member States. Hungary and Slovakia have achieved remarkable results, the economies of both countries are growing, unemployment is low, and these two countries are very successful. We have a right to speak about what the European Union should be like, in order to ensure the development of not only this region, but also that of the other countries. We’re talking about a strong Europe, we’re talking about a safe Europe, and we’re talking about intelligent solutions. We see the opportunities for development, for digitalisation and for the application of modern technologies; but these cannot be exploited without a secure environment in which we feel safe, in which we’re able to repel global threats, so that true development can get under way.

Prime Minister Orbán, how do you see current relations between Hungarians and Slovaks?

Viktor Orbán: I can only talk about my own experiences. I like working with the Slovaks, who are good partners. Hungarians tend to overcomplicate things somewhat, but the Slovaks don’t. They’re pragmatic, they’re clear; if we agree on something, they stick to the agreement, they don’t look for excuses, but instead try to find a way to make it work. I’ve had an excellent working relationship with both Prime Minister Pellegrini and [his predecessor] Prime Minister Fico. I’ve never heard them say a bad word about Hungarians. They’ve always asked me how the Slovaks are doing in Hungary, they’ve always stood up for the Slovak minority in Hungary, they’ve asked me about their schools and churches, and they’re always making enquiries. So I’ve seen that I’m dealing with patriotic people, for whom their community is important. I like to work with people with strong feelings for their nation: it’s better for me to cooperate with a Slovak whose heart beats for their own country, because they will also understand me, why Hungary is important for me, and why Hungarians who live in Slovakia are important for us. So I’ve always found it easier to get on with and come to an understanding with people who are motivated by feelings which are similar to ours. All in all, I can say that Slovakia has a government committed to its nation, the Slovak people have self-confidence and, as I see it, they are ever prouder of their achievements. They seek ways to cooperate, and so we have achieved a great many results – for example, opening border crossing stations and building bridges. I think that our good cooperation has seen a very large number of jobs created in both Slovakia and Hungary; wages are increasing in both countries, and this has also required our cooperation; people find that transport is easier, and this is because we cooperate. So if at some point people ask why we even need politics and politicians, a Slovak and a Hungarian will know the answer to that question: it is because we have jobs, wages are rising, and transport has become easier. So I feel that whenever I’ve cooperated with a Slovak prime minister, every single moment I’ve felt that we’re serving the people and representing the people. The same has been true on the question of migration. I’m grateful to Slovakia for standing by us on the issue of migration, because they’ve understood that this is not an ideological issue, but deals with practical questions of high importance: who is resident within the borders of our countries, whether we have public security, and whether we are combating terrorism. On a very practical level they’ve understood that we Hungarians also need help. They’ve stood by us, and even sent soldiers and police officers to help Hungary protect its borders. Hungary will always be grateful to Slovakia for this.

We’ll deal with migration in the next few questions, but let me ask you, as Slovakia’s prime minister, about Slovak-Hungarian relations. Politicians very often say that relations have never been as good as they’ve been in recent years, but please tell me in which areas relations are the best.

Peter Pellegrini: I can only echo the Prime Minister’s words. During my official visit to Budapest last week he also made it very clear that on our agenda there were no problems whatever related to Slovak-Hungarian relations. And indeed we have no problems of any kind. Indeed, the Slovak minority here in Hungary is being treated well, and I’d like to express my thanks for this. On the other side of the border, Slovakia treats the Hungarian minority living in Slovakia more favourably than is required by international treaties. It is natural for our cooperation to be good and for us to honour the provisions of the treaties – such as education in one’s mother tongue. Slovakia has sent a positive message in its decision not to close down small schools for financial reasons. We’ve made it very clear that we will not do this to small schools where children are taught in the Hungarian language, because it would be wrong for us to do that. And so Slovakia will not close down these educational institutions. At the same time, we’re working very intensively on our border crossing stations, and we’re continuously increasing their number on our long border – both with bridges and on roads. We’re very pleased that, if everything goes well, next year the Prime Minister and I will be able to see the inauguration of the splendid new Danube bridge between Komárom and Komárno, which will be yet another excellent symbol of the link between our nations on our shared border. A great many workers cross the border, a great many Hungarians work in Slovakia and a great many Slovaks work in factories in Northern Hungary. This is a friendly co-existence, and – as you yourself can verify – it is not in any way part of a political campaign. Also, in the international arena Slovakia and Hungary do not raise issues which point to problems in our relations. I’d like to express my thanks for the fact that under the leadership of Prime Minister Orbán and under our previous governments – and the Fico government – there has been a truly great improvement in relations between our countries, which today are without problems.

Viktor Orbán: I see this as a process of building trust. We look back on a history which is not an easy one, but today our task is to rebuild trust between the two peoples. Over the past few years we have carried out great work, and prime ministers Fico and Pellegrini have always been very good partners for me in the building of this trust. I’ve always asked them to look after the Hungarian minority living in Slovakia, and when we want to support them I’ve asked that we discuss what form of support they see as being good for them also: good for Hungarians living there and for us; and we’ve always found solutions. We don’t want to be Hungarian at the expense of Slovaks, or anyone else. We are Hungarians, we live where we live – for instance, in Slovakia also – and we want to remain Hungarian in our schools, religion, ceremonies and culture. We ask them to accept this, and to support this where possible.

It’s very positive that, as both of you have pointed out, Hungarian-Slovak relations are at their best. We’ve mentioned the European Union in the context of the migration issue, and so I’d like to ask you the following question. Today’s V4+Austria meeting also dealt with the migration issue, and now we also hear strong anti-migration rhetoric emerging from the Western bloc, with Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz providing an example of this. How can you solve the migration issue in Europe?

Viktor Orbán: The Hungarians’ standpoint is that first of all everyone should put their own house in order: if everyone protected their own borders, today there would be no migration problem. Together with assistance from Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria we have protected Hungary’s borders, and there is no migration problem in Hungary. Slovakia is protecting its borders, and it has no problem either. When you look at the map of Europe, you can’t help but see that there are countries which have protected their borders, which have preserved their cultural identities, which have not mixed with other cultures, where no parallel societies have emerged, where there are no terrorist attacks, and which have managed to maintain public security. Meanwhile in the other half of Europe foreign population groups have arrived in large numbers and there is a mixing of populations, crime is increasing, there is a threat of terrorism, and there is doubt over what cultural identity the western half of Europe will have in the future – if it has any at all. Today everyone can see this difference. We would like to help Westerners, if they let us; but we cannot accept the fact that they now want to force us to make the same mistakes that they themselves have made. So let us be glad that we’ve not been party to those bad decisions, and they shouldn’t force the consequences of their bad decisions on us. Therefore we cannot accept someone other than the Slovak or Hungarian peoples declaring who may reside within Hungary’s borders, someone sending all kinds of Muslim minorities here from across Europe, telling us that we must let in and provide for this or that many thousands of people. In that case, what is the purpose of the Slovak parliament or the Hungarian parliament? We shall decide ourselves what we want. We cannot allow our sovereignty to be violated, and I believe that on this I share the same platform as your prime minister.

Yes, I see. Mr. Pellegrini, could you respond? I’d just like to add that, as Prime Minister Orbán has already mentioned, Slovakia and Hungary are not affected by migration, although Hungary struggled with its own share of the problem when it was a transit country. So in fact there were problems here, but not in Slovakia. At the same time, migration is an important issue in these two countries, and in the V4 countries in general.

Peter Pellegrini: I’d like to echo what the Prime Minister said, and point out that our position and my personal position remain unchanged. Who may enter Slovakia and whom we let in to live here are issues that the Slovak government will decide on, and we shall not accept someone else from Brussels deciding this for us, or some other country dictating to us on this. This is within our sphere of competence, and it’s our right to decide whom we want or don’t want on our territory. Our culture, our history and our experiences are completely different from those of other countries which, say, had colonies around the world, occupied other countries, and which continue to have different ideas on this issue. At the same time, we can see that this is completely unworkable. And indeed I’d like to confirm and repeat Mr. Orbán’s words: we are not prepared to suffer the consequences of the mistakes of others. I’d like to thank Hungary for having very firmly started the defence of its southern borders, thereby blocking the transit route for migrants. I’m glad that Slovakia has been able to assist Hungarian border guards, and that at critical times our Slovak reinforcements served here on Hungary’s southern borders. We’re ready to do so again at any time. We agree that everyone has to put their own house in order; and we also have a Schengen border – with Ukraine – which we protect as well as is possible. And naturally everyone else who is part of the Schengen Area must do the same. We cannot tolerate a situation in which some countries’ failure to put their houses in order has led to the border having more holes in it than Emmental cheese; and we cannot tolerate a situation in which we see the arrival here and free movement within the European Union of hundreds of thousands of people about whom we know nothing. This is not part of the thinking of either Slovakia or the V4. And I’m pleased that our position has been unchanged for years, while the positions of certain countries have changed completely. The V4’s position is unchanged, and I’m glad that it has been vindicated, and that now Western European countries are beginning to share our view.

You and Mr. Orbán have said that Slovakia and Hungary must decide for themselves whom they will and will not take in, and that the borders must be protected. On the other hand, however, we’re members of the EU, from which we derive certain advantages. One such advantage is the structural funds, of which we’re recipients – and naturally also contributors, but at present we receive more than we contribute, leaving us with a net profit. Don’t we have certain obligations as a result?

Peter Pellegrini: Slovakia and Hungary are not the only ones with a right to decide who may enter their territories. The European Union itself also has certain decision-making powers regarding who will be allowed or denied entry to its territory, but this must be decided in unison at the level of European leaders: not by one country saying “We welcome you, come to us”, without the consent of the other countries. This gave rise to an error. I shall never agree to the idea of structural funds or any other funding being linked to the presumption or proof of our “solidarity” or lack of it. I believe that the solidarity of Slovakia and Hungary has helped in certain areas – more than the plan for the distribution of migrants, which has failed. We have helped with border defence, we have contributed to the funds, and we have looked after asylum-seekers. Hungary has also done everything possible. We have not been passive. I don’t agree with the notion that cohesion policy and the structural funds should operate under the condition that “You show less solidarity, so we’re not giving you money,” or “You show more solidarity, so we’re giving you more money.” It can’t work like that. The structural funds serve to enable us to even out regional differences, and as long as these differences exist, it is our obligation to work on eliminating them. The policy of these funds must not be tied either to solidarity or to any other conditions, which are often defined in a highly subjective manner.

Mr. Orbán, what’s your reaction?

Viktor Orbán: Yes, first of all, when it comes to money, this region has the world’s best workers: in Slovakia and Hungary, but also in the Czech Republic and Poland. And these people, our workers, generate very high added value. And if we not only focus on the amount of funding received by Central Europeans from the various regional funds, but also look at the profits which Western investors take out of these countries – money that our workers generate – then I can say that neither of us owes any gratitude to the other. I think that this is a fair deal. We receive jobs, our people work and receive wages; Westerners receive profits and we receive money in return, convergence funds. So I believe that, on the whole, Westerners are making money out of us, while we are also making money out of them. This is a good situation. Westerners can’t say “We give you money, and in return for that we demand this and that.” They can’t say that “We give you money, and you must behave in this or that way.” This is unacceptable, and would be humiliating. We must be self-confident in rejecting this approach, and we must demonstrate that without us – without Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary – there would be no economic growth in the EU. So we must speak about the issue of money confidently: with modesty, but also with confidence. We are not beggars, and we didn’t join the EU to beg: we have provided workers, our markets, the best workers, and good locations for factories. They make money here, and we also make money. We expect them to speak to us with respect, and not as if they are giving free gifts to Central Europe. That is unacceptable.

Prime Minister, very often you and your government has been criticised in Brussels, and your anti-migration rhetoric has also been criticised; and then your party won the election. How do you receive these criticisms, when you are criticised in Brussels?

Viktor Orbán: My colleague Peter will also see what this is like, because some of the criticisms I’ve received have not been on account of Hungary, but because I’ve been representing the V4. And I stood up for the other V4 countries as well. This is what I ask of the Prime Minister of the Slovakians: that we stand up for one another. Because in fact Central Europe is being attacked because we’re successful. We shouldn’t forget that there is also competition within the European Union. And when we compete for an investment or the establishment of a factory, or for a future investment coming from outside – from China, America or South Korea – we Central Europeans are the rivals of those inside the EU, the Western European countries. And in this competition we are doing well. So we are subjected to a lot of attacks which are not about what it is claimed they are about: in fact they are about the simple fact that there are some whose interests are being harmed by Central Europe’s rapid development. For instance, the Poles are not being pestered and attacked because they have carried out judicial reform. Not on your life! They’re being attacked because Poland is a large, strong and competitive economy, and their rivals want to slow their development down. At times like this we must stand up for one another. We stand up for Poland not only out of honour, but also because we must stand up for Central Europe. In this region we wanted competition. In those areas in which we’re better, we’re simply better: that’s that, and the Brusselites must learn to accept this. Of course, this is politics, you know, and some of the criticisms are never about what they say they’re about: there are other background reasons – for instance, that we’re developing rapidly and successfully. Speaking personally, I was one of the founders of Fidesz in 1988 – rather a long time ago. And when we founded Fidesz, there were thirty-seven of us, while the Communist Party had eight hundred thousand members. Despite that, I am the one sitting here today, and the Communist Party has disappeared. So we mustn’t be afraid of headwinds.

Prime Minister, how do you perceive this problem? Are the countries of the V4 criticised more for their anti-migration statements?

Peter Pellegrini: I believe that this picture is changing, because – and I repeat – our views have been borne out. Earlier we were depicted as countries which only ever cause problems for the decent, good old countries. Today they see that we were right, and people who live in that region also acknowledge our approach. The reason we’re sitting here is not simply because we want to be prime ministers – that’s our job – but we’re sitting here because we enjoy the trust of our parties, and our parties enjoy the trust of the people. It’s our job to take account of the opinions of the people who live in Slovakia and in Hungary, and Prime Minister Orbán and I – like my predecessor as prime minister – are only saying what we think, and what the majority of people in our countries think. So we are the voices of our nations, those who hold this view. This is our duty. If we said anything else, then how could we look our peoples in the eye? If we were to serve someone else, how could we show our faces to them? In this sense, I believe that the picture is not bad at all. Perhaps Western Europe has not yet got used to the fact that the Central European countries can afford to state their opinion. In my introduction I mentioned how this region is developing; we have a right to say how we see the future of the European Union, and what we believe we should do if the European Union wants to survive this precarious period.

The Hungarian parliament has passed a law on NGOs. The “Stop Soros” legislative package is a huge topic, which affects Hungary and is also on the agenda in Slovakia. I believe that Slovak viewers also sense this. You often say that Soros is behind the migrants who come to the territory of Hungary or its neighbouring countries.

Viktor Orbán: Naturally, I don’t want to interfere in the affairs of Slovakia, and indeed I cannot, but I advise you to exercise caution. George Soros is not only active in Hungary, but also in your country. We’re talking about a very dangerous financial speculator, who has made an enormous amount of money from ruining millions of people. He has attacked the currencies of entire countries, and made a great deal of money; money is his God. I understand that. And he’s using some of this money to seek political change that favours him in countries which he has personally selected. He is a Hungarian, a talented Hungarian man, so it’s understandable that in this respect he wants to influence Hungary, and wants to push it in a direction which opens the gates to immigrants. He envisages a Europe and a Hungary where there are very large numbers of immigrants and where very large amounts of money are spent on those immigrants. He’s prepared to provide credit for this: he sees immigration as a business opportunity, and he would be happy to finance it. But this is not good for us Hungarians: we’re not financial speculators, we’re the kind of people who live from work and want to preserve our country as it is. And George Soros has a very large number of people – hundreds and thousands – on his payroll, whom he pays in one way or another. Within foundations and so-called NGOs, in Hungary a great many people are working to guide and influence events in the country in the direction that he is committed to. This is the reality. I’m not attacking him, I’m merely stating that this is the situation. He and I disagree with each other. For a long time we lived peacefully alongside each other in Hungary, and there was no Soros issue. A Soros issue emerged when he became active in Hungary on an issue of such importance as migration – one with national security implications – and started helping illegal immigrants to enter Hungary, himself giving impetus to the migration wave. This is no longer a question of friendship, but of national security. What he has been doing runs counter to Hungarians’ fundamental interests. It is my duty as prime minister, and it is the Government’s duty, to protect the Hungarian people – from George Soros also, if needs be.

Prime Minister, I’d like to ask an additional question regarding your previous answer. You have tightened the NGO law. Is it true that all NGOs can cause problems?

Viktor Orbán: We’re talking about two different issues. We have a regulation – we adopted it earlier – which states that if an NGO receives funding from abroad, it is required to state so in its publicly available material. This is a transparency rule, and it applies to everyone, whether an NGO deals with refugees, immigrants or with political issues: this is a simple transparency rule. Everyone who receives money from abroad must declare in their publicity material that they’re an organisation which receives funding from abroad, so that when a Hungarian comes into contact with them, he or she knows who they are. The regulation that we have now adopted is a completely different one: it applies to NGOs which support illegal immigration in Hungary. In the future we shall strictly punish such activities.

In Slovakia these laws concerning NGOs are not so stringent. Is the Slovak legislation adequate? Should it be changed?

Peter Pellegrini: I believe it’s inadequate, as I’ve witnessed myself when we created laws regarding access to data or communication with the state: the third sector – NGOs – always argued: “This doesn’t apply to us; it will apply to every business, every cooperative, every entrepreneur, but not to us – leave us alone.” I believe that when we increase transparency the third sector does not have the right to be some kind of protected group. Just as other organisations are required to make public a great deal of detailed information on their operations, our civil society organisations, the NGOs, should also be required to meet these data disclosure requirements, so that the public knows where the money comes from, what it’s used for and how it’s managed. I think that NGOs, which are always fighting for transparency and openness, should set an example without us requiring them to do so by law. They should take the lead and they should demonstrate how it all works, because they indeed exert pressure on us to disclose information – down to the size of our shoes. If they don’t do this themselves, Slovakia will also have to initiate changes to force them to reveal the sources of their funding.

Prime Minister, you’ve already mentioned that tougher rhetoric has now also emerged in the Western bloc: from the Minister-President of Bavaria, from Sebastian Kurz – who was here today – and also from Mr. Conte, the new Italian prime minister. So they are indeed using tougher rhetoric about migration. Europe is beginning to wake up – but is it possible to devise solutions which are better than earlier ones?

Peter Pellegrini: Thank God that after all these years this problem is beginning to become visible; we should have woken up a long time ago. We’re only just beginning to realise that the real priority is defence of the borders, and that we must call a halt to the processes which are under way, otherwise the European Union can harm itself. At today’s summit it was said that if Germany begins to send back immigrants who are now in their territory, Austria will respond by tightening controls on its borders with Hungary and Slovakia. We can see how much our lives are already being complicated when we travel to Vienna, or the tight security checks at airports. We had become unaccustomed to this, and there is a serious threat that what Schengen meant to the people – the free movement of persons, goods and services – will wither. We must indeed defend the external borders, we must make every effort to make it clear to everyone that they cannot enter the EU, and we must crack down on people smugglers, who have profited greatly from the situation that has emerged. Europe’s disease is to react too late to everything: it’s not dynamic enough, it’s not flexible, everything takes too long, and problems overwhelm us. In the EU in the long run this cannot work, and this is why we’re trying to introduce some dynamism.

How do you perceive Schengen: is it working the way it should? There have been suggestions that countries which are unable to solve the migration crisis would be expelled.

Viktor Orbán: Today I had an easy job, because this issue emerged in connection with the agenda item concerning the Austrian chancellor: the issue of closing the border. And the V4 contingent was led by your prime minister, who stated very clearly that it would be unacceptable to have the kind of border closure which, for instance, would introduce completely unnecessary difficulties for Slovakians trying to cross from Slovakia to Austria. We understand that, due to the migrants, the Austrians want stronger border protection; but it should be reasonable, and under no circumstances should it cause unnecessary difficulties for Slovakians – or Hungarians, for that matter. Today the Prime Minister made this very clear, and I was able to wholeheartedly support him in this, because the essence of border defence – the defence of the external borders – lies in not having to reinstate internal borders. But we can only preserve free movement without internal borders if we defend our external borders. We defend them, and so does Slovakia. So why should the borders be closed against us? We guarantee the Austrians that we will not let a single migrant cross over to them from here. So Austria may need border protection, but less so in the direction of Slovakia, and also less so in the direction of Hungary, because the threat they’re facing is not from here. Today the Prime Minister made this very clear.

Peter Pellegrini: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. As the situation today is very stable, I did indeed ask the Austrian chancellor to reconsider the controls at the Jarovce/Horvátjárfalu –Kittsee/Köpcsény/Kopčany border crossing point. If Austria wants to continue controls without a change in the security situation, Slovakia may also start border controls on vehicles from all countries travelling in the other direction. This is not a good path to go down, and these are gestures which, I believe, will not contribute to good cooperation between us. Therefore I believe that the Austrian chancellor will reconsider his policy. On the other hand, I recognise that measures will have to be implemented if Germany starts sending people back in our direction. In that case, both Hungary and Slovakia will need to implement measures on their borders to prevent the entry of people who are being pushed onto our territories by the Germans – even though the Germans invited them to Europe, and are to blame for their arrival. We shall prevent this, and we shall defend our territories.

Viktor Orbán: Today I recommended to the Austrian Chancellor– and in this I joined your prime minister – that if this is seen as such a problem, then the Austrian defence forces, army, police and border guards should come down to Hungary’s southern border with Serbia. So we should not be protecting Austria on the Hungarian-Austrian and Slovak-Austrian borders, but we should be protecting it where an influx may actually occur. If the Austrians come down there, to the South, they’ll see that today no one can enter there, and they’ll also see with their own eyes – and in particular, if they take part in border controls they’ll see – that border protection need not be restored between their country and Hungary or Slovakia. This is what we suggested to the Austrian chancellor today; we’ll see if he takes us up on it.

Gentlemen, time is against us. As we’ve spoken about mutually positive relations, allow me to lighten the mood a little at the end of this interview. Prime Minister Orbán, as a keen sports fan, you know that two Hungarian ice hockey teams – Budapest and Miskolc – play in the top Slovak division. What do you think of that?

Viktor Orbán: First of all, let me say that I think that sport is something extremely important. I believe that in the modern world our children are exposed to a great many temptations. Some of these are attractive temptations, but there are dangerous ones as well; and if we want our children to be physically sound, to have strong characters, to have self-confidence and to have dignity, we need sport as an aid. Today without sport we’re unable to raise our children to be the kind of men that we once were – or perhaps that we still are. So I count very much on sport as a pedagogical aid, which gives people true character. Hungary therefore sees sport as a strategic sector. At the same time, the essence of sport is in competition, and there are things which the Slovaks can do better than us. And we’re happy if the Slovaks allow our teams to compete in their leagues in sports at which they are better than us: by doing so they are promoting our development. But, beyond this specific area of ice hockey, I support the idea of trying to organise Central European championships. In my view this could enhance the attraction and enjoyment of sport for Slovaks, Hungarians, Croats or Czechs. So in general I support a regional mentality also in sport.

Peter Pellegrini: Thank you very much. I’m very happy about this, and I will also be very happy if the Prime Minister and I are finally able to watch a match together. So I’d be glad to invite you to Slovakia. We not only want to cooperate at an economic level: we should also pay great attention to cultural cooperation and sporting cooperation. This is a breath of fresh air for the Slovak ice hockey championship, it adds to its appeal, and this joint competition is indeed a good platform on which to build wider championships in our region. In a year’s time it may even be extended to include Czech or Croatian teams, as Mr. Orbán said. I’m very happy about this.

Thank you. My guests were Mr. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovakia, Mr. Peter Pellegrini. Thank you, gentlemen.