Bertalan Havasi, the Prime Minister’s press chief, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that on Friday evening Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babiš paid a brief working visit to Budapest, where he had a one-to-one meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
According to the sound recording received by MTI, after the meeting Mr. Orbán told Czech journalists that Hungary has always had respect for the Czech people, who are somewhat ahead of Hungary in terms of their economy. He said that there is healthy competition between the two countries’ economies, and in recent years they have both been successful in a European context.
Therefore, he said, the two prime ministers first discussed bilateral relations, and agreed to strengthen economic relations between the two countries, because both sides can profit from this. The Prime Minister highlighted that defence industry cooperation would be very useful, because the Hungarian army is in need of developments.
He also stressed that he was interested to hear an opinion on the issue of migration from a non-traditional politician, because conventional politicians parrot the same European “blather”, and adopt the same approach. Mr. Orbán added that the Czech prime minister has a clear idea of how the migration crisis should be managed in Europe in the future, and this differs from the current approach. The Hungarian prime minister said that this is a reasonable proposal, which Hungary will gladly support.
At the meeting the two men also spoke about the European Union’s next multiannual financial framework. In the Hungarian prime minister’s words, they identified the issues on which they agree, and where Hungarian and Czech interests coincide. They acknowledged that together they can improve the European Commission’s original proposal on a number of points.
Asked about his meeting with Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, Mr. Orbán said that a few years ago Hungary was in a situation in which everyone said that migration across land cannot be stopped, but it thought that if there was a will, there would also be a way. The challenge Europe is facing today, he said, is finding a solution to stopping migration at sea; and in this Italy is playing an extremely important role. The Prime Minister said that the Italian government must demonstrate that migration can also be stopped at sea, adding that he hopes it will succeed.
Mr. Orbán described criticism as being part of democracy, and that, in his view, on the issue of migration the EU is split into two camps: one – under the leadership of French president Emmanuel Macron – supports migration; and the other camp – which Hungary is within – seeks to stop migration. At the same time, he added, criticisms are also being levelled because the campaign for next year’s European Parliament elections has started.
The Hungarian prime minister described the meeting as productive, adding that, at Mr. Babiš’s invitation, he will visit Prague in the second half of October.
After the meeting the Czech prime minister spoke about his last meeting with Mr. Orbán, at the EU summit in June. He said that there they had fought together against mandatory migrant quotas and for the voluntary relocation of illegal migrants.
According to the Czech prime minister, the mandatory migrant quotas are “nonsense”, and Europe has wasted years by continuing to discuss them. He stated that the emergence of a global solution to the problem of illegal migration is very important for Europe.
He said that it is important for countries like the Czech Republic and its partners, which are not “large states”, to have proposals on this subject, which they are seeking to implement as best they can.
Outlining his plan on Tuesday, Mr. Babiš said that Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain must clearly state that they shall not take in migrants. Following this, it will be necessary to conduct talks with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, with the aim of these countries stopping migration at their borders. The Czech prime minister stated that “We need an Africa plan for each country from which migrants come to Europe. These are economic migrants, not refugees fleeing war.”