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Jun 15, 2020

Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following his talks with Prime Minister of Slovakia Igor Matovič

12 June 2020, Budapest

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Prime Minister, our Dear Slovak Friends,

We thank Prime Minister Igor Matovič for visiting Hungary. Thank you for placing us high on your list of foreign visits. Thank you for ensuring the translation of your government’s programme into Hungarian, enabling us to read it. And we also thank the Prime Minister for his messages and gestures to Hungarians in Felvidék, to the members of the Hungarian community living in Slovakia; these have not gone unnoticed, either in Budapest or in the hearts of Hungarians living in Hungary. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the cooperation between us which has been formed during the epidemic, and for his willingness to be a part of this. Many Hungarians were brought home from different parts of the world by Slovaks. We thank Slovakia for this. We also assisted, wherever we could. I thank the Prime Minister for making cross-border commuting possible – something which has been particularly important for the families living there. And we thank you for removing restrictions at border crossings. I’ve informed the Prime Minister that we are proud of the community of Slovaks living in Hungary, who have made superb and spectacular contributions in Hungary. Hungarians understand what I’m talking about when I say this, because their schools are beautiful and their churches superb, and they have living communities which enrich Hungary. We don’t like to brag, but the code of diplomacy requires that I mention the fact that since 2010 we have quadrupled budget support for the Slovak community in Hungary. We support their kindergartens, schools and communities, and in Parliament now a law is being debated which will transfer ownership of their schools – the buildings they use for their schools – to the Slovaks in Hungary, to the Slovak community living in Hungary. So in addition to the annual support they receive from the Hungarian state, they will also receive this property. I also told the Prime Minister that, as we see it, in their daily lives ordinary Slovaks and Hungarians have shown the way to their prime ministers and governments, as a fantastically lively system of relations has developed between Slovakia and Hungary. Even in Hungary, Prime Minister, few people know that Slovakia is Hungary’s third most important trading partner. We are used to looking to the Germans, the Austrians and America, but the truth is that our third most important trading partner is Slovakia: last year the volume of trade between the two countries exceeded EUR 10 billion, which is a very serious matter, and a significant amount by international comparison. I’ve asked the Prime Minister to send as many Slovak investors to Hungary as possible. We’d like them to be able to create investments in Hungary together with Hungarians, or even independently. We’ve therefore opened a EUR 600 million credit line with Eximbank, which we can increase if necessary. I’ve told the Prime Minister that here in Hungary we consider a number of things that will happen in the months ahead to be historically important. They will not be small in scope. The first of these will be the handover of the bridge at Komárom. We’re talking about a new bridge over the Danube: an imposing bridge linking the two countries, which radiates strength and self-confidence. By 2022 we will have built six new crossings, including three bridges on the River Ipoly [Ipeľ]. And when we’ve completed this work, there will be forty crossings on the border between the two countries – which is an almost civilised situation. This means that the average distance between them will be sixteen kilometres. In Western Europe average distance is three kilometres, but sixteen kilometres is a very significant step forward when compared to the previous distance of forty kilometres. And I consider it geostrategically important for – by the end of the year – the two countries’ electricity grids to be connected at two points. Likewise I attach geostrategic importance to the volume of gas transported through existing Slovak-Hungarian gas pipelines, and to a significant expansion – an approximate tripling – of the interconnector system. These are developments which determine not only the security of the two countries, but that of the entire region. We are grateful to Slovakia for these, with which we can both contribute to the stability of the whole region, the whole of Central Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel that we’ve understood the will of the citizens of our two countries, who want mutual respect, who want to trade, who want to travel, who want to do business, and who want to work together. In other words, they want to be successful together. Our task is an easy one: we simply need to follow the lead shown us by our electorates. I welcome the fact that we have every reason to hope that in the coming period Slovakia will continue to be guided by benevolence, friendship and generosity – as the few months the Prime Minister has so far spent in office have already made clear to Hungarians. So I’ve asked the Prime Minister to support Slovak-Hungarian relations and to maintain his goodwill towards the Hungarian communities living in Slovakia.