Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after a meeting between the President of Korea and the prime ministers of the Visegrád Four countries
4 November 2021 Budapest

Your Excellency, Fellow Prime Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I will give a brief account of the meetings, but before I do I would like to say how honoured we are to have been able to receive the President of Korea. This is true for all four of us, but especially for Hungarians, as we see each other as kindred peoples. His Excellency and I reflected on the fact that at some time in 1892 Hungary established diplomatic relations with the then kingdom. But at today’s talks there was also a special atmosphere, because we were able to welcome a president who himself fought for freedom and democracy. The public here tend to focus on the freedom struggles in Europe, and we are more familiar with the Czech, Polish and Hungarian stories; but there is also the story of South Korea, where they fought for freedom. They are brave people, and it is a great honour to welcome here in Hungary today a president of the republic of a country which took part in this struggle for freedom and democracy. So much for the past. Thank you, Mr. President, for being here.

We also talked about global issues: climate policy, the situation in Afghanistan and its consequences. I am not going to talk about those now, but about economic issues. In all modesty, we can say that here in Budapest we have seen a meeting of five success stories. The economies of Central Europe have had good years and have good prospects; and in terms of growth and technological development, Korea is a world champion. Korea has a GDP of 1,600 billion dollars, and the combined GDP of the V4 countries comes to 1,100 billion dollars. If we were one country, the V4 could be a member of the G20, just like Korea. This clearly shows that these two groups – South Korea and the V4 – see the world economy as players with similar dimensions. The timing [of this meeting] is explained by the fact that we all feel that a new era in the world economy is unfolding before our eyes. South Korea is known as a leading nation in innovation; and we in the V4 would like to make use of this global economic shift for our own benefit. There is huge global competition for the benefits resulting from the redistribution of production capacity. It is not true that everything will continue as it did prior to the pandemic. The capacities that were shut down as a result of the pandemic are not being reopened in the places where they were before: a large proportion of them are moving, looking for a new location. And we, the V4 countries, have entered this competition: we want to attract as much of the world’s investment as possible to the V4 countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past five years, trade between the V4 and Korea has increased by 40 per cent – 40 per cent in five years! In a very difficult period – in the black year for the world economy that was last year – it continued to grow, reaching 20 billion dollars for the first time in history. Today we have asked the President of the Republic of Korea to follow up on the V4’s largest joint economic venture: the construction of the V4 high-speed railway line. North-South links in Europe cannot be realised if the four capitals are not connected by a high-speed rail line; and in this area South Korea possesses advanced technology. We want to reduce the current journey time of 12 hours to 5 hours, with what will be a project for a railway line of around 800 kilometres. We truly hope that this will attract the interest of Korean industry.

Finally, I would like to mention that the V4 and South Korea have been cooperating successfully in the field of science and technology. We have a V4 fund, in which Korea participates, contributing to it and taking part in its operation. We hope that this meeting will lead to cooperation between South Korea and the V4 which extends beyond the economic sphere and into the spheres of science and technology.

Once again, on behalf of Hungary we thank His Excellency for visiting us.