Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán

Honourable Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of my government, I wish to thank you for your invitation here, to the beautiful city of Niš. Thank you for the opportunity to view the motorway which is currently under construction. The Honourable Prime Minister could not have put it more accurately: this motorway is being built in Serbia, but it is extremely important for Hungary. So we, too, have a vested interest in its successful implementation. Congratulations on the progress you have made.

Serbian-Hungarian summits show signs of becoming customary annual events, and when I spoke to Prime Minister Vučić about holding the latest in the city of Niš, one of the most important arguments in favour of this was that Niš is a city from which we can suitably express our respect for the Serbian people. Secondly, we came here because our analyses concerning Serbia indicate that the country is on the threshold of a period of strong economic growth. We Hungarians have also suffered much in the course of our history; one finds it hard to believe that times will come which are better than those we have seen before. Optimism is not a natural characteristic of the people of Central Europe, but the figures speak for themselves. An economic boom has been experienced by the Central European countries of the European Union, and this is what we are experiencing in Hungary right now. In Serbia, too, a boom is imminent. In consequence, Serbia now offers investors far greater economic opportunities than at any earlier time.

A considerable amount of capital has accumulated in Hungary in recent years, and this is searching for investment opportunities. We would like to invest some of this capital in Serbia, and this time we do not want to stop at Belgrade, but would like to continue further south. We would also like to form fruitful economic relations with southern Serbia. I would like to confirm that, thanks to your prime minister and government, the past few years have seen creation of the political conditions for robust economic cooperation – and for this we are grateful to both Prime Minister Vučić and President Pásztor. The time has now come when we must be highly practical, when we must speak the language of business and follow its logic, and when we must implement projects which simultaneously serve the best interests of both countries.

Here I would like to make one thing clear. Hungary has experience with foreign investors: both good experience, and bad experience. Our good experience involves investors coming to Hungary who have checked their plans against Hungary’s economic strategy. These were all good investments, they endured, they proved to be profitable, and they were also accepted by the Hungarian people. This is also the policy we want to pursue in Serbia. We only wish to invest in the sectors and areas in your country which serve your interests. We would like to form part of Serbia’s industry policy and economic strategy, in order to ensure that the Hungarian investors who wish to come to Serbia feel at home here in the long run. At the same time, I asked the Prime Minister to encourage Serbian investors to target Hungary.

It is true that when this ten-year period comes to a close,  Hungary’s fortunes may be seen to have been better than those of Serbia; history may have been more generous to us than to you, and therefore at this point in time our economic figures are better – but this will not always be so. The figures will even out, and we would like Serbian-Hungarian relations to be balanced. For this to happen, we not only need to invest in Serbia, but you need to invest in Hungary. I have told the Honourable Prime Minister that, in order for them to implement tangible and successful Serbian projects in Hungary, we shall give Serbian businesses access to the Hungarian financial system – including Hungarian financial funds supporting projects in Hungary. We shall support these.

Here I wish to repeat that Serbia’s stability is a key issue for the stability of the entire Central European region. As your neighbours, we have a vested interest in Serbia being successful and stable, and in there being order, calm and equilibrium here. A good neighbour is always the best investment, and so we have an interest in the success of the Serbian government and the economic achievements of the Serbian people; and we shall support all measures which serve to combat terrorism and create security here in Serbia. Pursuing a similar logic, we shall support every measure Serbia can take to stop illegal migration: if necessary we shall send personnel; if necessary we shall make financial resources available; if necessary we shall provide experts. This is because Serbia’s stability is in the best interest of Hungary, through this of Central Europe and – in terms of migration – of the whole of Europe.

Finally, I wish to thank the Serbian government for regarding Hungarians living in Serbia as a cause which is close to its heart. We wish to thank you for a policy which makes Serbia an outstanding example to the whole of Europe, and which supports the minorities living in Serbia – including the Hungarians. And I promised the Prime Minister that, although there are far fewer Serbs living in Hungary than Hungarians living in Serbia, this is not an issue of numbers, but of principle, and of honour. And so the Hungarian government will always support the Serbian community, will support all their efforts to preserve their culture and identity, and we will also bear the related financial burdens.

Prime Minister Vučić, The Serbs living in Hungary can rely on my government.

Thank you for your attention.