Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the foundation stone-laying ceremony for a new bridge over the Danube
17 October 2017, Komárom

Good afternoon, Honourable Prime Minister, Dear Guests from the other side of the river, Ladies and Gentlemen. I welcome you all.

According to a Hungarian proverb, the hunter shouldn’t drink to a fine new pelt until he’s killed the bear; but today we feel as if we’ve already completed this bridge. The reason for the good mood we’re in is that this is not the first time that Slovakia and Hungary have come together to build a new bridge on the Danube. Although it wasn’t yesterday, I clearly remember when together Slovakia and Hungary succeeded in rebuilding the Maria Valeria Bridge at Esztergom. I believe that the technical demands of that project were more difficult than those we face here, and so the reason we’re in such high spirits today is that we think that, having managed such a feat back then, this time we’ll also surely achieve the goals we’ve set ourselves and complete this bridge.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The people of Komárom live in a city to which the Danube brings us quite regularly. I remember that I visited your city several times in June 2013, and here there are quite a few faces that I remember. This was the period when Komárom had to be protected, and the whole country was cheering us on. Volunteers and disaster control and water management personnel worked together to protect your city, and eventually managed to do so. In those difficult times you held out, you worked day and night, and you saved the city. I remember that I was also here in February 2014, for the foundation stone-laying of the Komárom–Almásfüzitő main flood defence line. And coming to your city today, I saw that the foundation stone was not in vain: the road and the flood barrier have been completed, and we managed to execute our undertaking on time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For Hungarians and Slovaks today’s event is a good example of the fact that the Danube does not separate us, but links us. I remember that when we inaugurated the Maria Valeria Bridge, the winds blowing in Europe were completely different. At that time we were working hard to build relations between East and West, and for the Visegrád countries to join the European Union at the same time. When the Maria Valeria Bridge was being built, we managed to experience the freedom that Schengen would later mean to us. When that bridge was under construction we understood what it would be like for us all to be members of the European Union and to be able to travel without border controls of any kind, and to do business and work anywhere in the territory of Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the time we thought that the situation in which Europe’s external borders are closed and its internal borders are open would continue for a very long time. Today we see that this is not the case, and different winds are blowing: Europe’s external borders are open, and increasingly its internal borders are being closed. In Bratislava at the V4 summit only the other day I had a chance to talk with the Prime Minister of Slovakia, and we agreed that we shall not accept this situation: we shall return to Europe’s original values and goals. We want the external borders of Europe to be closed, and we want its internal borders to remain open. I’d like to make it clear that if we have a say, this will be the case. Perhaps the Honourable Prime Minister will allow me to say that today the Visegrád cooperation rests on such strong foundations because in the countries of Central Europe there are leaders who think not only of their own countries, but also in terms of Central Europe. And we’re convinced that those who think and act in terms of Central Europe will bring benefits to all four Visegrád countries. But beyond this, with this mentality they also bring benefits to the whole of Europe. In my view, it is thanks to this that Slovakia and Hungary have recently found the common ground of cooperation, in the spheres of both politics and the economy.

I’d like to thank Prime Minister Robert Fico for the work we’ve done together over the past few years. Together we realised that we can make our two nations more successful if we create ever more links along our borders. You can see this for yourselves: we’re connecting our countries with roads, railway lines, gas pipelines and bridges. I’m convinced that the main beneficiaries of this work will be the two countries’ border settlements and the people living there. If the Honourable Prime Minister will permit me, I’ll also mention the fact that we’ve built six new links between Slovakia and Hungary in the past three years. When we inaugurated the cargo ferry in September 2016, we reduced the distances between border crossing points to less than twenty kilometres. This is a fine achievement compared with the earlier situation. I would add in parenthesis, however, that this is still far more than the distance of two to four kilometres which is typical in Western Europe. This means, Honourable Prime Minister, that we have a great deal more work to do in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking at the plans, there is no doubt that the structure being built here will be a fine one – both physically and symbolically – and will be a source of justified pride for Slovaks and Hungarians on both banks of the Danube. May this bridge be a symbol of our efforts to protect the external borders of Europe and to continue to keep the internal borders open. May it be proof of the fact that, as European citizens, we Slovaks and Hungarians believe in a Europe with freedom of movement.

Finally I would like to thank the Slovak government, the local authorities on both sides of the river and all the organisations involved in technical preparations for the work which has allowed us to lay this foundation stone today.

God bless the citizens of the city – of both cities.

Thank you for your attention.