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Oct 31, 2019

Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following his talks with President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

30 October 2019, Budapest

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the past several years we’ve been holding annual high-level Russian-Hungarian meetings, the purpose of which is to review the state of our bilateral relations. When we devised this practice we set ourselves the goal of taking a step forward every year in the field of economic and political cooperation. I have to say that, looking back, there have been successful and less successful years: there have been years in which we’ve only shuffled forward; and there have been years in which we’ve taken a giant stride. Last year was in the latter category. If we look back over the past few years, since the introduction of sanctions against Russia, we see that 2018 was the first year in this period in which the volume of trade between our two countries grew once again. So from the point of view of Russian-Hungarian economic relations, 2018 was an extraordinarily important year: trade volume once again exceeded 6 billion dollars, and is around 6.5 billion dollars. We’ve never made a secret of Hungary’s intentions. In addition to mutual respect, the foundation of cooperation between our two countries is honesty. The fact is that in this trade the Russians have an immense surplus, because we import oil, gas and energy from them. This is an unbalanced situation, and we are working on bringing it into equilibrium. There are two ways of doing this. One is for us to try to agree with Russia that we be allowed to see their country as an investment destination, and for us to create investments there: to launch capital investments in Russia. The other method is for us to have goods suitable for export which will be bought on the Russian market. If both these processes are operating, then from our point of view the balance will improve; and if we manage them well the Russian economy will also benefit. This is the “win-win” path on which we’re trying to make progress. 

In addition to economic cooperation, naturally there is also political cooperation between our two countries. From Hungary’s point of view the foundation of this cooperation is a very simple geographical fact: no country can change its location. Every country is where God created it to be. For Hungary this means that for the past 1,100 years we have lived within a triangle formed between Moscow, Berlin and Istanbul; and this is where we continue to live our lives. And the goal of Hungarian policy is for every great power to have an interest in the success of Hungary, and for those countries which have a decisive regional influence on our lives to have an especially strong interest in our success. Russian-Hungarian cooperation fits into this category. Of course Hungary is also a member of NATO and the European Union, and it will remain so. But this does not prevent us from initiating political cooperation with Russia in certain areas. This is what we are striving to do now, and we shall continue to do so in the future. 

The outstanding areas of political cooperation are the following. Today we will have a meeting with church leaders representing persecuted Christians. This demonstrates that one area of political cooperation is the defence of Christian communities across the world. For Hungary this is a continuation of the traditions of Saint Stephen. There is political cooperation between us on migration, the inherent dangers of which are recognised by both of us. As I speak there are 96,000 migrants moving north on the Balkan route between Turkey and Hungary. This is a cause of great concern to us, and it impels us to defend our border. Russia also has border defence and migration problems, albeit on a different scale. There is political cooperation between us on the stabilisation of the Middle East. Naturally Hungary clearly appreciates its own size, importance and position, but it also recognises its interests. And the world today is one in which Hungary has interests in the Middle East: if that region undergoes destabilisation, then increased numbers of migrants will set out from there towards Europe, seeking to enter the continent by passing through Hungary. Therefore it is in our interest for the Middle East and Syria to be as militarily and politically stable as possible. The media doesn’t tend to focus on it, but here I’ll mention the fact that our cooperation extends to the Kurds living in Iraq, because Hungary is supporting the Kurdish government in Erbil with military training and soldiers, and also financially. Another element in our cooperation is the fact that Hungary has an interest in the improvement of cooperation between NATO and Russia. In Hungary’s historical and political experience, if relations between the western and eastern halves of Europe – between NATO and Russia – are bad, and the relationship is tense, then as a result Hungary will always lose out. If relations are good, then as a result Hungary will always win. Therefore it is in our interest – and it will also be in our interest in the future – for cooperation between the Western structures and Russia to improve as much as possible. 

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would just like to say that the lists of investments will be available after the press conference. All I would like to say now is that in Russia we’ve successfully launched developments in the meat industry, we’ve successfully launched developments in animal health care, and we’ve successfully launched developments in medical science and pharmaceutical production. So as a result of cooperation with the Russian government, Hungary has not only been able to increase its exports to Russia – to a very high level in seed exports, for example – in recent years; it has also been able to increase the number and capacity of Hungarian factories built in Russia. So to sum up, from a Hungarian point of view the development of relations between the two countries is pleasing, and for this I would like to thank the President and the Government of Russia.

Thank you for your attention.