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Feb 15, 2016

'We Must Discuss a Second Line of Defense' Says PM Orbán at V4

Following the meeting of the Visegrad Four, Prime Minister Orbán pointed to the need for a "second line of defense" between Turkey and Schengen. In the press statement, he also voiced support for Bulgaria's accession to Schengen.

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On 15 February 1991, our predecessors signed a document entitled “Declaration on Cooperation between the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Poland and Hungary in the Interest of Achieving Membership of the European Union”.

This clearly shows that Visegrád cooperation is divided into two phases: from 1991 to 2004, when we achieved the goal of the founding declaration, and a second phase from 2004 to the present. I, for instance, was one of those who in 2004–2005 believed that Visegrád cooperation had achieved the goal it was established for, and that there would probably be no need for it thereafter. Yet today, standing here in 2016, I can tell you that there has never been a greater need for cooperation between the Visegrád Four than there is now, twelve years after our accession to the European Union. Of course this is providing that we wish to be equal partners and recognised participants in the European Union. Twenty-five years ago, when we signed the Declaration, who would have thought that we would become members of NATO and the European Union, that the Central European V4 would provide the European economy’s engine of growth, and that our region would be the most secure in Europe? This is how much the world has changed.

What I can tell you about today’s meeting, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that although the European economy’s prospects are not bright, the main issue in 2016 will be security and migration, and so today this is the issue which we discussed the most. According to our calculations, today there are 38.5 million people living outside Europe who are internally displaced in their own homelands and who could at any moment decide to set out for Europe. A fact which is often overlooked is that here we have huge movements of people coming from Ukraine. The full burden of these movements is borne exclusively by the four Visegrád countries seen here today; this is a prime example of European solidarity, because, while we receive no support, we are protecting the western part of the European Union from the burdens of migration originating in Ukraine.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Hungarian government’s standpoint on migration policy is that to date what we in Europe have been doing has failed; that migration policy has resulted in trouble: terrorism, violence and fear. Our standpoint continues to be that the mass migration flow must be brought under control and must be halted. We would be glad if the first line of defense functioned properly – meaning that we succeeded in blocking this migration flow between Europe and Turkey; and we are doing everything possible – and will continue to do everything possible – to ensure that this is successful. However, recent months show that this has not been successful. And accordingly it is logical – and something which emerges from political responsibility – that we must discuss the possibility of establishing a second line of defence. Just to be clear, the European Union already has a second line of defence, running along the Hungarian, Slovenian and Austrian – the Austrian-Italian – borders. The question is whether we want to establish a second line of defence between Turkey and the current connected external border sections of the Schengen Area. This is a major question for the future, for the upcoming European Union summit and for the weeks and months ahead. What Hungary can do in the interest of establishing a second line of defence is to make all of its support, financial instruments, military force, border protection capacities and technical equipment available to those who are prepared to establish a second line of defence south of Hungary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In closing, I would like to say that Hungary supports Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area. This is no longer a “philosophy of law” question. Bulgaria has proved that it is capable of controlling its own borders in accordance with Schengen regulations, and so we believe that Bulgaria should be offered membership of the Schengen Area; and I would like to reaffirm Hungary’s position, which is to support opening talks with Macedonia on its accession to the European Union at the earliest opportunity. We do not see the existing political dispute as an obstacle to the commencement of talks; we believe that negotiations must begin and the political issues must be resolved at the end, prior to the signing of the accession agreement. It is unfair that we are not offering Macedonia the opportunity to move forward – an opportunity which flows from enabling it to join the European Union.

Thank you for your attention.