Good afternoon, everyone.
I’ll continue where the Chancellor left off. He said that this wasn’t our last conversation. Now I’ll reveal the secret that it wasn’t our first, either. We’ve known each other for a very long time, and we’ve also been working together within the European People’s Party for a very long time. Only the character of our relationship has changed: we used to meet as party leaders, and now we meet as heads of government. The shared foundations are there, such as personal rapport and political friendship, since we belong to the same political community in the European arena.
I had the opportunity to tell the Chancellor how we Hungarians see the future. In our view, a major realignment is taking place in Europe. One of the elements of this is that the British are leaving the European Union; and the other element is that Central Europe, with its high growth and low unemployment indices, is ever more visibly becoming the economic engine of the EU’s economic growth. And of course I made no secret of the fact that Hungary has always been a supporter of further European Union enlargement in the direction of the Balkans – which will bring further restructuring. Within this historic process the Hungarians will define their role over the next ten years by doing everything possible to further strengthen the already successful Central European region, so that it can become a determining factor in the European Union. I think that this is also a good programme for Austria. Your country is in a fortunate situation, as it understands us, the people of Central Europe – it understands the countries of the Visegrád Group – and it also understands Western Europe. Unlike us, Austrians were fortunate enough to be able to send the Soviets home in 1955 – while we only managed to do so much later, in 1990-1991. So Austria understands us and it also understands the countries of Western Europe. The role that Austria has taken on is very favourable for Hungary. I’m grateful to the Chancellor for having spoken about assuming the role of a kind of bridge. We are a bridgehead: the Central European bridgehead to the European continent.
Neither did I want to conceal the fact, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the future that lies ahead of us – and which we regard as important – must of course also be protected. Today the greatest threat to what is otherwise a promising future for Central Europe is mass population movement – which is commonly called migration. I thanked the Chancellor for always having been a good partner earlier as Minister of Foreign Affairs. To Hungary he was not only a good friend, but also a good partner on issues relating to migration. We were able to count on him, and we not only agreed that we had to close the Balkan migration route, but we also took joint action to do so. It is with gratitude that I look back to those difficult days, weeks and months, when Austria sent us police officers and border guards, and helped protect Hungary’s southern border. I am convinced that when we Hungarians stand our ground there, we are not just protecting Hungary, but also Austria. When I say that we must protect the future, I am of course also speaking about the fact that we have our own culture – which we call Christian culture. Here I’m not talking about its religious dimension, but its cultural dimension. In Christian societies we have a way of living, and this is a way of life that we want to protect. This identity is important to us. I am convinced that Europe has no need of parallel societies, but must instead preserve its Christian cultural foundations. Accordingly, I told the Chancellor that we are prepared to take part in a major debate at UN level. In a few weeks’ time we will see the publication of a document by the United Nations organisation which deals with migration. And last week in Budapest we Visegrád countries decided to take an active role in this debate. I can also tell you that we agreed that a future European asylum system – let’s call it “the Dublin system” for now – must not only deal with issues relating to the regulation of refugees, but must also deal with border protection. There must be no discrepancy or divergence between border protection and managing refugee affairs, as border protection must be placed at the heart of refugee policy: everyone must uphold the Schengen system. I informed the Chancellor that in the name of Hungary and the V4 we will be submitting proposals to this effect related to the European legislative proposal which is currently in development. We agreed that the migrant quota is not a solution, and we also agreed that people who have arrived in the territory of Europe illegally cannot remain here. There are no illegal immigrants in Hungary, and there will not be any: Hungary will not admit illegal migrants, it has not done so far and it will not do so in future. And so there are none in Hungary; but where there are illegal immigrants in Europe, they must be taken from those countries back to where they came from, and must not be distributed. In this Hungary will gladly assist every European Union country, because it is clear that a right cannot be based on illegality.
The Chancellor mentioned the question of the nuclear power plant. We do not regard this as an Austrian-Hungarian dispute, since Austria also took the United Kingdom to court when the Hinkley Point nuclear power station was given the green light. So I will be doing everything possible to ensure that our difference of opinion with regard to nuclear energy does not have a negative effect on Austrian-Hungarian relations. We regard this as a European issue, and not an Austrian-Hungarian issue, and we are searching for a solution on European legal forums.
The situation is similar with regard to the issue of family support. On this I have asked the Chancellor to ensure that Hungarians who work here in Austria receive equal and fair treatment. If they pay their social welfare contributions, they should receive what they are due. If there is a dispute over what they are due, we should not regard it as an Austrian-Hungarian dispute, but as one about the interpretation of European law. We shall also engage in this legal contest.
I also reminded the Chancellor that the physical links between our two countries are not yet satisfactory. In the coming years Hungary will be extending its motorway network as far as the Austrian border at three or four points, but there is no connection on the other side of the border. Accordingly, in the interests of developing economic cooperation, I asked the Chancellor to collaborate in creating connection points and opportunities.
I also gladly acknowledged the successful economic cooperation that exists between Austria and Hungary. Austria is one of the most important investors in Hungary. According to our estimates, more than seventy thousand Hungarian families are sustained by income from Austrian-owned enterprises in Hungary. So we are talking about an important investor, and in economic and trade relations Austria is our second largest partner in terms of volume. So Austria is a valuable partner. I am convinced that both countries mutually benefit from Austrian-Hungarian cooperation: it is good for Austria, and it is also good for Hungary. As I have already said, we will be doing everything possible to ensure that our economic relations also increase in the future.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, these were the things we discussed in our important meeting today.
Thank you very much.