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Jul 29, 2016

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s statement after his meeting with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern (full text in English)

The best method for protecting the Hungarian-Austrian border would be if the two countries jointly protected the Hungarian-Serbian border, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated

Budapest, July 26, 2016.

Allow me to welcome you all. Good afternoon!

There is something piquant about the fact that we may now welcome the Chancellor of Austria in the Delegation Hall of the Hungarian Parliament Building where the Austrian and Hungarian committees and delegates held their meetings in the old days. That was the function of this hall. This is why it was built.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We wish to welcome the Honourable Chancellor with the greatest respect, and we can inform members of the Hungarian public who are interested in the latest political developments that we, and I personally, have not been able to report such good foreign policy news to the citizens of Hungary for a long time as those that I can deliver today. We had a very successful meeting. Austria has always occupied a special place in the hearts of the Hungarians. The very manner in which we speak about them has its own specific vocabulary and linguistic atmosphere. After all, we are supposed to be brothers-in-law according to the European public. At the same time, everyone is also aware that the good relations that exist between the two countries have their historical, geographical and economic foundations. Yet, the political foundations that are necessary for continued good relations between the two countries had been shaken in recent periods. And today we sat down at the negotiating table with the intention of closing one chapter, and opening a new one in the history of political relations between Austria and Hungary. We have managed to achieve this goal. I am pleased to inform you that the leaders of both countries take the view that relations between the two states and between the two nations are above party relations. The fact that we each belong to different party families will not detrimentally affect Austrian-Hungarian relations in the future as inter-state relations and relations between our peoples are always superior to mere party issues. Therefore, today we attempted to lay the most pragmatic and most practical possible foundations for the two countries’ relations. I would like to inform the Hungarian public that Austria is Hungary’s second most important trade partner. So they are important for us. In 2015 the volume of our trade amounted to more than ten billion euros. And as regards investments, Austria is our fourth most significant partner, investor in Hungary. In practical terms this means that some three thousand Austrian businesses are active in Hungary, and they maintain seventy thousand jobs. Based on a family of four, this means that the living of almost three hundred thousand Hungarians is earned in work places offered by Austrian businesses operating in Hungary. This amply demonstrates how important Austria is for Hungary. These are solid foundations, and we shall build our cooperation on them in the future as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We agreed to treat the introduction of digital technologies and the modernisation of the economy as priority issues during the period to come. There will be special emphasis on railway cooperation. The policy we embarked upon, as part of which we opened new border crossing points between the two countries and on which we have an international agreement, will continue. At the same time, we may see the results we have achieved so far in the equalisation of qualifications, too, as achievements that we may build on and would like to continue in the future. So I have to say that, in addition to the historical, economic and geographical foundations, we have today also consolidated the political foundations that are necessary for a new chapter.

Naturally, Ladies and Gentlemen, we discussed that the Hungarian Eximbank opened a credit facility worth five hundred million to promote cooperation between Austrian and Hungarian businesses, and the Prime Ministers of the two countries will also recommend the establishment of relations between the two investment agencies, the Austrian and Hungarian agencies.

We touched upon the issue of migration which, in actual fact, took up a considerable portion of the meeting. The two countries are in different situations; the Honourable Chancellor will inform you about this. On behalf of Hungary, I was able to confirm that Hungary has a vested interest in the flawless, verbatim observance of international law. This means that we take back every migrant who first entered the European Union in the territory of Hungary at the Austrian-Hungarian border in accordance with the international conventions signed by Hungary, and immediately move them on. With regard to the fact that these countries are the countries of the Western Balkans, we have agreements with these countries regarding not just the fact of the returning of migrants, but also its technical implementation. In other words, what we can do to help Austria is that we take back every individual who first entered the European Union in the territory of Hungary and is currently staying in Austria, and take them back to where they came from. I also told the Honourable Chancellor that we receive the measures which Austria is implementing at the Hungarian-Austrian border in the interest of protecting the Austrian border with understanding, but we recommended that they should consider that the best method of protecting the Austrian-Hungarian border would be if we protected the Serbian-Hungarian border together. An important initial step has been taken by virtue of the fact that Austria is sending twenty border guards to the Serbian-Hungarian border. We asked them to explore the possibility of continuing this practice and potentially upgrading this effort by magnitudes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the same time, I also informed the Esteemed Chancellor that no one is allowed to stay in the territory of Hungary illegally today as the Penal Code does not permit this. We have hermetically sealed the Austrian-Hungarian, sorry, Serbian-Hungarian border, it cannot be penetrated, and therefore no one arriving in Hungary illegally in a legal sense can leave Hungary for Austria. Therefore, if we are able to maintain the current practice – though the expense and the effort are immense, as we have eight thousand people working at the border, eight thousand soldiers and police personnel –, then we can also protect Austria from illegal immigrants at the Hungarian-Serbian border.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Honourable Chancellor one more time for having honoured us with his visit, and I wish to confirm here, before the public, before the Hungarian and Austrian public, that Hungary will make every effort during the period ahead to be the best possible neighbour and partner of Austria.

Thank you for your attention.