Central Europe is facing a decade offering fantastic opportunities
29. 09. 2021.
Central Europe is facing a decade offering fantastic opportunities, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday in Ústi nad Labem, Czech Republic.

The Prime Minister met with his Czech counterpart Andrej Babis, and at a joint press conference he highlighted that slowly tables are turning because earlier the dominant thinking was that Central Europe was unable to find advancement without Western Europe; today Western European economies are unable to operate without Central Europe. There is no successful German economy without Central Europe either, and Central Europe is indeed the engine of the economy of the EU, he stated.

He took the view that therefore the region’s political and economic influence is increasing, and behind this there is genuine performance. However, we can only convert this influence if we maintain the Visegrád cooperation, he said.

Mr Orbán pointed out that as regards the reduction of unemployment, the Czech Republic is ahead of us. Regarding the level of sovereign debt, too, we would like to catch up with the Czech Republic, and we equally envy the performance of the Czech Republic’s industry, he listed.

He observed that he came to reinforce the Czech-Hungarian wing of the Visegrád cooperation (V4) because if the Czech Republic is not committed to the V4, the V4 cannot work. The Visegrád Group needs the Czech Republic’s strength and political influence.

He said we can hardly avoid the next big wave of migration, people in their millions are leaving Afghanistan, and some of them will want to come via the Balkans and Hungary. Hungary is protecting not only its own borders, but also those of the whole of Europe, including the Czech Republic. This is why he asked Mr Babis to make available 50 police officers to reinforce the protection of the borders, he explained.

Regarding intelligent transport systems (ITSs), he said the essence of these systems is that everyone is required to pay because they have homes and cars. This must be prevented because “this may well fit into the luxury of the Western Europeans, but not into our lives,” he stated, adding that they agreed with his Czech counterpart to take joint action on this matter at the next EU summit.

In the context of Czech-Hungarian economic cooperation, Mr Orbán said it is an honour that the Czech economy also welcomes Hungarian businesses, and Czech-Hungarian economic cooperation has broken records never seen before.

He said this year the volume of bilateral trade has increased by 26 per cent, and 330 Czech companies operate in Hungary, providing jobs for many thousands of people. Hungary wants to expand this cooperation which is making good progress in telecommunications, agriculture and the energy sector, and we would also like to extend cooperation to the defence industry, he added.

He stressed that Hungary is ready to engage “in close, amicable and sober cooperation with the government of Andrej Babis that rests on mutual respect” in the future.

In answer to a question, the Prime Minister also highlighted that the Hungarian-Russian gas supply agreement is a matter that Ukraine has no business with; it is an issue of Hungarian sovereignty. He said Hungary is a sovereign country, we buy energy, gas from whomever we want. “It is for us alone to decide by what route we transport this energy to Hungary,” he pointed out.

He said when we choose from among the possible routes, there is only a single consideration: which route guarantees the greatest security. “We will choose the route which provides the highest security of conveyance, and in this no one other than us has a say,” he added.

Mr Orbán highlighted that “our message to the Ukrainians is that they should struggle with their own problems, and should leave us out of them”.

He also said “we Central Europeans are bound to succeed,” and “if only they let us we will find advancement”. We do not ask for any extra help, only fair treatment, he laid down.

In his view it was not fair that in order to conquer the shock caused by the epidemic, the EU has decided to give every Member State financial assistance in the form of credit, but there are eight countries which have not yet received it. This is not about money, but about the fact that the competitive conditions are not equal, he pointed out.

He said the European Commission is making a distinction among countries, and those who receive assistance later will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. If the EU provides equal treatment, stops abusing its power, and behaves in a fair and just manner, than the success story will continue in Central Europe, he said.

He stated that “we have three big battles with Brussels”. One of them is about migration, “they want migrants, we don’t”. The second one is about the LGBTQ issue, “we don’t want to give any activists, anyone other than the parents, a say in the raising of our children, but they insist on this, they want to send LGBTQ activists” into our schools. The third one concerns the fact that they want to pursue a green policy, in consequence of which the high energy prices will “cost the earth” to the Hungarian and Central European people, he listed.

He highlighted that we must win these three battles, this is a pre-condition of the continuation of the Central European success story.

In answer to another question, he said for 26 years he lived in the communist regime where people were not allowed to say what they thought. “Now they can, and this is what we’re fighting for.” This is sometimes inconvenient, people sometimes say things we disagree with, but what matters is that they are free to state their opinions, he said. He added that those who cannot tolerate that others might have different views should not become prime minister, but should choose a different line of work.

He also said Westerners cannot or do not want to protect their borders, they are letting in migrants uncontrolled, and then they say that it is not fair that they all end up in their countries and so they should be distributed. This is not the case, however. Everyone must protect their own borders, and if they cannot they should seek help.

He took the view that those who are unable to protect their borders or decide not to seek assistance and let migrants in should bear the consequences. There cannot be mandatory quotas, and it is good that on this the Czech Republic agrees with Hungary, he said.