Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s press statement after his meeting with Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
11 May 2018, Budapest

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Excellency,

For us this is a wonderful day. We are grateful to His Excellency the President of Colombia for visiting us. My work as newly re-elected prime minister could not have had a better start than this visit from our guest today. I am also grateful for the fact that he has added to the importance of this day. We are rarely visited by leaders who are as exciting as our current guest.

We all know that I stand here to the left of a head of state who is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The ultimate purpose of politics, after all, is to create and to maintain peace. Those who are capable of this will always deserve our acclaim, and today we have expressed this to His Excellency. Here in Hungary today we welcome a true hero; this is something that everyone already knows.

But I would like to talk about something that not everyone knows: that we started our talks today with the hope of learning a great deal. Colombia is a country which is doing a number of things that we Hungarians can also learn from, copy with adaptation, and use. Our talks were extremely inspiring, because we were able to learn that Colombia – which is, of course, a much bigger country than Hungary – has forged ambitious plans for the future; and only yesterday we Hungarians also set ourselves ambitious goals. We have been able to learn a great deal from Colombia’s aim to turn its economy into one of the most competitive in the world. I heard about the extent of the country’s boldness in its long-range thinking in the innovation and technology fields, for which I expressed our respect. We also learnt, or received confirmation, that countries – be they Central European or South American – must cooperate with other countries like them; this is what Colombia is doing, and it is what we are doing we with the Visegrád Four. So during the talks today we gained a great deal of validation and inspiration, for which we are grateful to the President.

Naturally we also discussed specific plans. I was happy to accept the Honourable President’s invitation to Colombia, where I will be able to acquaint myself first hand with everything we have discussed. What I believe is equally important is our commitment – our joint, mutual commitment – to friendship between the young people of our two nations. We are announcing scholarship programmes in which Colombia is participating, and in which it will continue to participate in the future. I have promised that in the period ahead the scholarship system operated by the Hungarian state will be developed and expanded. We also agreed that the decision to reopen our embassy in Colombia and Colombia’s decision to do the same here is a tremendous development, which gives us renewed energy. This creates the opportunity to develop much more intensive and vigorous relations between our countries.

In summary, I can say that for Hungary this has been an extremely successful day: we have made a new friend, who will have a representation in Hungary; we have made a friend who has similar ideas about the future; and we have made a friend who appreciates the importance for the future of regionalism and cooperation with neighbouring countries. It is now our responsibility, the responsibility of the Hungarian government, to accept this friendship and make use of the opportunities it offers. I shall do everything in my power to make sure that we do so.

Thank you very much.