Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Prime Minister,
We’ve had an extremely stimulating meeting. It was stimulating because we know a great deal about Slovenia, as it’s our neighbour, and every year between 570,000 and 580,000 Hungarian tourists travel there. This means that every year almost six hundred thousand Hungarians have personal experience of Slovenia, and therefore in Hungary we’re well aware that it’s a beautiful country, and a rich country. Yet if we look at Slovenian-Hungarian relations and our cooperation – particularly in the economic field – we can see that although cooperation is improving year on year, its rate of increase is slower than that of Hungary’s economic cooperation with its other neighbours. At the same time, we also know that the Slovenians are a successful and talented nation. We know this because if we look at the balance of trade between Hungary and all its neighbours, we see that the Slovenians are able to run a large trade surplus with Hungary, while none of our other neighbours can say the same – even though we have seven neighbours in all. In its trade links with us Slovenia is able to generate an annual trade surplus of around 350 million euros. There’s only one explanation for this: competitiveness. So we have had the privilege of hosting the prime minister of a country with a level of competitiveness exceeding that of Hungary, and from whom we have much to learn.
In addition to this, the importance of this visit lies in the fact that we share a common fate with Slovenia: our historical experiences in the contemporary era are very similar, as were our experiences four or five years ago. So Slovenia and Hungary know precisely what migration means. They know precisely the meaning of the unregulated crossing of borders. We know what it’s like when unauthorised people appear in masses and want to enter our countries. We know what it’s like when they don’t come to us as their destination, but merely want to pass through our countries. We know what it’s like when the law, the national interest and the humaneness of the correct management of events come into conflict with one another. We’ve all endured the painful process, after the migrant crisis, of thinking through a correct and reasonable attitude. A small but telling example of our shared insight is that now we will jointly transport medical supplies to Africa – based on the logic that trouble should not be brought here, but instead help should be taken there. And I truly hope that this cooperation between Slovenia and Hungary will continue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, I would like to briefly list the achievements about which I was able to inform the Prime Minister: what Hungary has done in the past year to improve bilateral relations. Through Eximbank we’ve opened a credit line of 165 million euros to support Slovenian-Hungarian economic cooperation. Thank you for inviting us to be the guest of honour in 2020 at Slovenia’s largest economic fair. Only a few days ago we pledged a sum of 900 million forints as part of the economic development programme in the Rábavidék region. Rábavidék is the Hungarian region with the largest number of Slovenian residents, and so for them this programme is particularly favourable. So far we have spent approximately two billion forints on the Muravidék [Prekmurje] economic development programme: a Hungarian and Slovenian economic development programme for this region in Slovenia. I’ve suggested to the Prime Minister that we could even combine the two, and we could set up a Slovenian-Hungarian cross-border regional economic development programme as a kind of vehicle to mutually promote the region’s development. Since our government has been in office we’ve increased support to the Slovenian minority in Hungary by 350 per cent. And further good news is that in mid-December we will complete the construction of the M70 motorway to the Slovenian-Hungarian border, meaning that we’ll be able to reach Slovenia by motorway. We’ve also started planning the section of the Zalaegerszeg–Rédics–Lendava [Lendva] railway line that runs within Hungary. So these are the most important things.
Perhaps the Prime Minister will allow me to inform you that we also touched upon European issues – the issue of enlargement in particular. Both Slovenia and Hungary have a strong interest in enlargement, in the enlargement of the EU. Furthermore, Slovenia also has a special interest as a result of its Yugoslav past. Hungary has an interest due to its borders with former Yugoslav territories. As far as I can see, we seem to agree that enlargement of the European Union is an urgent task. It was a mistake that recently we didn’t offer this opportunity to North Macedonia and Albania, but personally I think it would be an even bigger mistake if we were unable to accelerate talks with Serbia, given that the part of the Balkans still outside the European Union cannot be guaranteed peace and cannot be stabilised without the development of Serbia. Therefore I’m convinced that it’s also in the interest of the European Union – but definitely in the interest of Hungary – that Serbia becomes a member of the European Union as soon as possible. Now that we’ve made the wrong decision about starting talks with North Macedonia and Albania, we should at least accelerate talks with Serbia, so that the prospect of European Union accession remains open to the Balkans. As I understand it, in this regard there is strategic agreement between our two governments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the whole, we’ve had a successful and long overdue intergovernmental meeting, which I believe will start a number of splendid initiatives in the future. For this I am grateful to the Prime Minister.