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Oct 28, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: Both Hungary and Slovenia know exactly what migration and uncontrolled border crossings mean – a threat to national security

Hungary and Slovenia share the same fate when it comes to migration, said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Hungary will help Slovenia protect its borders. The prime minister also spoke about “very serious consequences” if the EU continues to block new member states, while Slovenian Prime Minister Sarec expressed his government’s full support for Hungary receiving the European Commission enlargement portfolio.

“If all that had happened was that the negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania had not begun, that would have been another matter. But some member states have said that we should rethink the whole issue of enlargement,” said Prime Minister Orbán at a press conference following his meeting with Slovenian PM Marjan Sarec earlier today in Budapest.

PM Orbán began with the topic of EU enlargement, saying that the ramifications of shutting down accession talks with the two countries are far more serious.

“Some countries would like to consider where Europe's borders are, what their membership levels are, and what the outcome of the whole negotiation process should be. This is not about making good decisions later, after bad ones, but making strategic suggestions. Let us not draw borders that would exclude Serbia because it would have very serious consequences,” PM Orbán said.

In line with Hungary’s stance on EU enlargement, Slovenian PM Sarec said that should Hungary receive the portfolio of enlargement in the European Commission, Slovenia will support it as “Hungary is close to the region.”

Prime Minister Orbán highlighted that some 500 thousand Hungarians visit Slovenia each year, so many have personal experiences with the country. But while Slovenia is a beautiful and rich state, the PM added, the volume of economic cooperation could be higher.

Orbán said that Slovenia has a trade surplus of EUR 350 million with Hungary. “The reason for this is that Slovenia is a more competitive country than we are, so we have something to learn. We share a common destiny with Slovenia. We know what it is like to be in conflict with the law and the proper management of things,” he said, referring to the common migration threat.

Prime Minister Sarec noted that Hungary is Slovenia's sixth most important business partner, and last year’s trade between the two countries exceeded two billion euros. He added that Hungary will be a prominent guest at the Celje industrial fair in 2020.

Coming back to the topic of EU enlargement, PM Orbán said that it would be a grave mistake if we failed to speed up negotiations with Serbia and added that it is in the interest of both the EU and Hungary that Serbia become a member of the Union as soon as possible.

The two countries also announced a joint effort to send medical aid to Africa. On migration, the Slovenian PM said that the best solution for managing immigration is to handle the problems in the countries of origin, something that he called a common EU task. This is also an approach that Orbán has been dedicated to, with the Hungarian government dedicating aid to developing countries in order to prevent migration at its source – something a majority of Hungarians support as well.

Hungary’s finance minister has also urged the IMF to help overcome the root causes of migration. And the EP’s recent decision against increasing rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean may indicate a shift in EU policy, reinforcing Hungary’s belief that it is better to help countries that are the source of migration instead of standing idly by as thousands are forced to flee their homeland. 

Both Slovenia and Hungary have identified migration as the biggest challenge of our time, and PM Viktor Orbán noted that there are 96,000 migrants on the Balkan route, moving at a varying pace towards Western Europe. As more migrants arrive at the border, he added, Slovenia can also count on our help.

Prime Minister Sarec said that Slovenia registered 12,000 illegal border crossings this year and added that most of these people were deported to Croatia. If significantly more arrive, the border between Northern Macedonia and Greece must be strengthened.