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Viktor Orbán’s address at the 1st Arab League – European Union summit

Your Majesties, Excellencies, dear Presidents and Prime Ministers,

Thank you for the invitation. I would like to congratulate President el-Sisi, I wish to thank President Tusk, and I would also like to thank everyone who was involved in drafting the joint statement. Over the past few years we have all learnt some valuable lessons. The first such lesson is that foreign policy which relies on the export of democracy does not work: it causes trouble, and leads to situations which are the very opposite of those which one desired in the first place. Experience shows that we must treat one another with mutual respect, and we must respect the cultural, religious and political traditions of our peoples. The second lesson we have learnt is that we must not underestimate the power of demography. The demographic trends which form the foundations of migration will continue. By 2030 the population of the Arab world will be 30 per cent higher than it was in 2015, and will exceed the population of the European Union – which is actually declining. Therefore we must conclude that the causes of the current migration tensions will strengthen. The question that we are all facing is this: do we want to passively accept these processes, or do we want to act to control them? Today my experience is that people smugglers, terrorist organisations, illegitimate power groups, NGOs, financial speculators and the media are exerting a strong influence over migration policy – and thus also over European-Arab relations. Moving forward, we would like legitimate political leaders to jointly take control of events. And therefore the declaration we have made today – our joint declaration – is extraordinarily valuable.

Your Excellency President el-Sisi,

The starting point for Hungary’s policy is that help must be taken to where there are problems, rather than distributing those problems. My country of Hungary has a population of ten million. We know how much influence we have in the world, and we know our place. Therefore we must pursue a foreign policy strategy that is suited to our strength. We support the European Union taking on an enhanced role in the management of regional crises and in the development of crisis regions. Rather than offering help on ideological grounds, we would instead like us to everywhere support forces and leaders who are able to create stability.

Mr. President,

I wish to inform you that Hungary is punching above its weight in its participation in international missions: in Lebanon, Iraq, Libya and the Sahel region. The four Visegrád countries are jointly providing Libya with financial assistance for the protection of its borders. Hungary is taking part in a project jointly run by the V4 and Germany through which we will be offering support to Morocco. My country of Hungary provides an annual total of 1,400 state scholarships for young people coming from Arab League member states, and this year there are 2,300 state scholarship holders from your countries studying in Hungary. We hope that they will return home and help their countries. And finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Arab leaders who provide protection for Christian communities persecuted in their countries and regions. I ask them to continue this policy.

Thank you for your attention.