Fence must be built along Greece’s borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria
22. 01. 2016.
At the joint Slovenian-Hungarian government meeting held in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia on Friday, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán stated that, in order to curb the flow of migrants, a fence must be built along Greece’s borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Referring to the EU zone without internal border controls, Mr. Orbán said that “If we are unable to protect the external borders of the European Union, however costly and arduous that effort may be, we ourselves will destroy the Schengen system”.

At a press conference held after the meeting between the Hungarian and Slovenian governments – which lasted much longer than planned and mostly concerned the positions of the two states related to migration – the Hungarian Prime Minister stressed that the Hungarian government is committed to supporting Slovenia’s initiative to achieve international cooperation on the construction of a second line of defence on the northern borders of Greece.

He also reiterated that Hungary sees it as a “natural and a moral duty” to help Slovenia with police personnel and equipment in the management of the migrant crisis. “Protecting Schengen with mere words is not enough; we both want to protect it with actions as well”, the Hungarian Prime Minister highlighted.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Mentioning the topics of the joint government meeting of the two countries, he said that typically in Hungary there is a positive image of the Slovenian people and their country, because Hungarians appreciate the historical achievement by means of which “they have successfully survived the last few centuries”. He said that we must respect our ancestors, accept their legacy and, following from this, “we have a profound historical relationship which is based on respect”.

The Hungarian prime minister agreed that in recent years the two countries’ economic cooperation has fallen substantially short of the opportunities available, and “we could do better” than the existing trade volume of some two billion euros between the two countries. Therefore, we need “not only good cooperation, but also cooperation of a strategic nature”, which entails the construction of a motorway, as well as rail and energy links.

Mr. Orbán told the press that by 2018 the M70 will be upgraded to a dual carriageway along its entire length, and that the two countries’ electricity and gas pipeline networks will be connected – not only as an energy issue for both states, but also a security issue. “For Hungary, Koper is its exit towards the sea”, and it therefore has a vested interest in the development of the port and the railway line leading there, he said; therefore Hungary shall also provide a credit facility of EUR 370 million.

Mr. Orbán further mentioned that Hungary finds it remarkable that the number of people who can speak foreign languages in Slovenia is among the highest in Europe and that, over the years, Slovenia is one of the highest-ranked nations in terms of Olympic medals won per head of population. In this context he asked Slovenes to support Hungary’s 2024 Olympic bid.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

One of the things Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar highlighted at the joint press conference was that the European Union will have to find a common solution to the refugee crisis within weeks if it is to avoid possible conflicts among its Member States.

“We cannot wait until spring to find a solution. We need a solution within weeks […] or else we can expect conflicts among Member States”, said the Slovenian prime minister, who also said that the migrant situation has gone completely out of control.

The Slovenian prime minister spoke about an initiative which the interior ministers of European Union states will discuss on Monday, one of the most important elements of which is to provide support for Greece in the construction of another line of defence on its northern borders, and to make every effort to ensure that Turkey observes its agreement with the EU on the management of the migrant crisis.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi
Photo: Balázs Szecsődi

Regarding Hungarian-Slovenian relations, he said that it is the goal of both countries to make better use of their existing opportunities in the future. As part of this, the construction of roads and the linking of the two countries’ rail, electricity and gas networks are particular priorities, but within economic cooperation there is also further potential in agriculture, forestry and tourism.

Mr. Cerar said that the Slovenian minority living in Hungary and the Hungarian minority living in Slovenia are key to relations between the two countries, and in this respect the parties were pleased to acknowledge that the situation of their respective minorities is satisfactory, they are given the support they need and their rights are guaranteed. There is, however, room for improvement as far as their financial situation and cultural opportunities are concerned, in order to prevent a decline in their populations in the long term.