Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s press statement following his meeting with Macedonian party leader Nikola Gruevski
28 September 2017, Ohrid
Thank you for your invitation, Prime Minister Gruevski.
We are here for three reasons. We held a working lunch, during which I reported that this evening the prime ministers of the European Union’s Member States will be holding an informal debate on the future of Europe, based on a proposal put forward by the President of France. It is important to speak about this here, in Macedonia, because eventually Macedonia will also become a member of the European Union. The future of Europe is also the future of Macedonia, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to inform my friend Mr. Gruevski about this first-hand.
The second reason that we have come to Macedonia is to invite Mr. Gruevski to join our club, together with Mr. Janez Janša. This is because Prime Minister Janša and I are European politicians who have both won and lost elections; and in Europe today it is very rare for political leaders to not only continue their political work and continue to serve their country following a victory, but also after losing an election. I could list the names of many people who were once European leaders, but are now on the boards of large international concerns, leading foundations, or somewhere in the private sector. Janez Janša and I are leaders who have decided to serve our countries not only when the sun is shining, but also when the rains come. And we are pleased to see that following the parliamentary elections Prime Minister Gruevski has also decided to remain a part of political life in Macedonia, and has undertaken to continue serving his country from the opposition benches – which we all know is no easy task. And so I congratulate him on his decision, and I wish him much success.
The third reason we are here is to say a few words on the eve of the elections here. Of course, as Prime Minster of Hungary I cannot and do not wish to become involved in the Macedonian election campaign, but there a few things I would like to say to the citizens of Macedonia, to help them with their decision. First of all, I would like to tell you that Macedonia is an important country, and accordingly every Macedonian election is also a European election. The borders of Europe, the borders of the European Union, do not extend to and do not correspond to Europe’s cultural borders; and Macedonia is part of Europe, even though it is not yet a member of the European Union. And I would like to confirm that Hungary remains a committed supporter of your country’s earliest possible accession to the European Union. Macedonia is also an important country because the major international event that will determine the future for decades to come is modern-day mass population movement, which is driving huge numbers of people northwards towards Europe. One of the routes along which migrants will be arriving – and here we are talking about tens of millions of people – will be the Balkan migration route. A recent study by NATO states that by 2020 sixty million people will have set off from Africa to find a new home. I did not misread that number – I said by 2020! And the majority of them will be heading for Europe. Securing, closing and monitoring the Balkan migration route is one of the main factors in European security, and this is something in which Macedonia is playing a key role. Macedonia is protecting Europe, and it will continue to protect it for as long as it maintains its resolve to keep this route closed. In the interests of both the people of Europe and Hungary, I have asked Mr. Gruevski for his country to do everything possible to ensure that this population movement cannot stampede through Macedonia and that it does not bury this country, and that it is not allowed to change our lives; because if, over the next twenty to thirty years, tens of millions of people pass through our countries, then the life that we regard as our own – as Europeans, Hungarians or Macedonians – will be radically changed. And this is something that we do not want. In this struggle we are counting on Macedonia. So this is another reason why Macedonia is an important country, and this is one of the reasons I have always stood by Prime Minister Gruevski, and will continue to do so in future. He is a politician who represents national interests and who places the interests of his country first; and it should be clear to every politician who places their country first that their own country and its security must be protected from the dangers of mass population movement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Macedonia is also an important country because, as a result of internal disputes, Europe is suffering from a kind of enlargement fatigue – as they say in the EU. We who want the European Union to expand in the direction of the Western Balkans – and both Hungary and Slovenia are in agreement on this – need successful countries and success stories. And Macedonia was a success story when Mr. Gruevski was Prime Minister. The economic figures and the rate of development speak for themselves. Macedonia only has a chance of becoming a member of the European Union if it continues to remain a success story: if its economic policy is decisive, if it continues to develop, if there are investments and it achieves GDP growth. If this is the case, we who support Macedonia’s membership of the European Union can successfully argue for your country’s accession to the European Union by explaining that we will be allowing in a strongly developing country, which will not cause problems for Europe and the European Union, but will strengthen us and give us extra energy. This requires a continuation of the success story, and we are grateful to Prime Minister Gruevski for enabling us to always cite Macedonia as a success story during his period in office.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Naturally, as one of its leaders, I would like to make it clear that the European People’s Party expects the upcoming local elections to be fair and above-board. A monitoring committee will also be arriving from the EPP. We Hungarians will also be here in person to monitor what happens, and our wish for Macedonia is that in the local elections its people will be able to express their political opinions freely and under fair conditions – whatever opinions those might be. My wish, therefore, is for Macedonia to enjoy free and ethical elections.
Thank you for your kind attention.