PM Orbán: Hungary-Slovakia relations have never been as good as they are now

Viktor Orbán and Robert Fico attended a joint press conference following their meeting in Budapest.

Photo credit: MTI

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico have announced a significant strengthening of ties between their two countries, highlighting a unified stance on numerous issues within the European Union.

Prime Minister Orbán, after talks in Budapest with Fico, stated that the relationship between Hungary and Slovakia has never been better. PM Orbán warmly welcomed the recently returned Slovak Prime Minister, noting that "we have been waiting for this meeting for years." This marks their 33rd bilateral meeting since their first in April 2012, possibly setting a record in Europe.

The two countries have found a unique way of interlinking within the EU framework that bolsters each other in terms of physical, economic, and energy security. PM Orbán emphasized that the interests of Hungary and Slovakia align in "at least 99 percent of the cases," with sovereignty being a key priority for both nations.

PM Orbán expressed Hungary’s discontent with Brussels' superstate initiatives and efforts to legitimize illegal migration. “As far as Hungary is concerned — and I feel that we are in agreement here — we are not happy with the superstate initiatives from Brussels, we are not happy at all with the efforts to legitimize illegal migration, we want to protect our borders, and we want to decide who we let into our country,” PM Orbán said.

In a gesture of gratitude, PM Orbán thanked Robert Fico for the Slovak police's regular assistance in protecting Hungary's southern borders. In return, Hungary is pleased to contribute to air traffic control duties in Slovak airspace starting this year.

On economic security, PM Orbán highlighted Slovakia as Hungary's third most important trading partner, with a steady annual trade volume of around 15 billion euros. He pointed out Hungary's role in ensuring transit for Slovakia's oil supply, reciprocated by a quarter of Hungary's electricity imports coming from Slovakia.

The prime ministers reflected on the past year’s focus on developing connections between the two countries, including bridges, railways, roads, and gas and electric lines. PM Orbán recalled the complete implementation of the agreement signed with Fico in 2014, resulting in an increase of border crossing points from 20 to 40, significantly improving the quality of life for border residents.

Prime Minister Orbán also announced the creation of a second Hungarian-Slovak cooperation package, along with a coordinating committee to facilitate this. Responding to journalists' questions about the presidency of the European Council (EC), Orbán described it as a favorable situation, given Hungary's previous experience in this role. He emphasized the importance of maintaining a national standpoint while fulfilling the mediator role of the EC presidency.

Addressing the upcoming EU summit on February 1, PM Orbán highlighted two main topics: aiding Ukraine and modifying the EU budget. Hungary advocates separating these issues, proposing that financial aid to Ukraine should come from outside the EU budget. Orbán recognized the necessity of assisting Ukraine but warned against causing harm to the EU budget. He suggested creating a financial instrument for Ukraine outside the budget and expressed Hungary's willingness to contribute its share from the national budget. PM Orbán emphasized Hungary's support for Slovakia's key points regarding the EU budget modification and reiterated Hungary's readiness to support Ukraine independently, without taking on joint debt or integrating the matter into the EU budget.

For his part, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico affirmed Slovakia's support for Hungary in the EU, opposing any restrictions on Hungary's rights within the union. Fico articulated his concern about the current political climate surrounding both the Hungarian and Slovak governments. He criticized Slovak opposition MEPs for damaging the nation in their quest to undermine the government, especially regarding the proposed changes to the Slovak penal code and the dissolution of the special prosecutor's office.

Fico asserted that as long as he is at the helm of the Slovak government, he will never agree to penalize a country for fighting for its sovereignty and national independence. He also echoed PM Orbán's views on rejecting the EU migration pact, the importance of peace in Ukraine, and the continued operation of the Visegrád Group (V4).