PM Orbán's recent European tour counters claims of isolation

Our critics often argue that Hungary is isolated in international politics. However, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's recent tour across Europe ahead of Hungary's presidency of the EU Council demonstrates the contrary. His meetings with top EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron, Giorgia Meloni, Olaf Scholz, and NATO secretary-general candidate Mark Rutte underscore Hungary's active engagement on the international stage.

France supports Hungary’s EU presidency program

Prime Minister Orbán’s European tour included a significant stop in Paris, where he secured French President Emmanuel Macron's support for Hungary’s EU presidency program. This program focuses on enhancing European economic competitiveness and integrating Western Balkan countries into the EU. President Macron and PM Orbán discussed the importance of including these nations swiftly, noting the 15-year wait as "wrong and possibly humiliating." Prime Minister Orbán emphasized that there is overwhelming support among EU countries for the swift inclusion of Western Balkan nations, including Serbia, and assured that Hungary would work diligently towards this goal in the coming period​​.

During the talks, the leaders also celebrated the positive trajectory of French-Hungarian relations. PM Orbán highlighted that 45,000 to 50,000 Hungarian families are employed by French-owned companies operating in Hungary, and bilateral trade has doubled over the past decade. He also mentioned the significant involvement of a major French company in the purchase and development of Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport, underscoring the importance of this collaboration for both countries​​.

Additionally, both leaders emphasized their ongoing cooperation in nuclear energy and defense, setting a solid foundation for Hungary's upcoming EU presidency. However, significant differences were revealed regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with PM Orbán reiterating Hungary's stance on achieving a ceasefire as soon as possible to prevent further loss of life. He stressed that Hungary's primary objective is to achieve peace, not siding with either Ukraine or Russia​​.

Strengthening ties with Italy

In Rome, Prime Minister Orbán met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to discuss shared priorities such as European competitiveness, migration, and defense cooperation. Both leaders stressed the urgency of a European competitiveness pact to prevent significant job losses in the next decade. "If we don't establish a European competitiveness pact, hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost in the next decade," PM Orbán emphasized. They agreed on the importance of fostering a competitive European economy and ensuring that the green transition collaborates with European industry rather than works against it​.

Discussing economic ties, PM Orbán highlighted key projects such as the Trieste port development and a logistics initiative in Ukraine, showcasing the deep economic cooperation between the two nations. "Our economic relations have quadrupled in the last 10 years, with 600 Italian companies providing jobs for 20,000 Hungarians," he noted. Additionally, he mentioned the strategic significance of connecting Hungary and Italy through a Slovenian gas pipeline segment, which would enhance energy diversification and security​.

Defense cooperation was also a key topic, with Prime Minister Orbán noting the strong partnership between Italy and Hungary within NATO. He highlighted the presence of 256 Italian soldiers in Hungary as part of NATO’s forward-deployed battlegroup and the collaboration between Italian and Hungarian forces in the Balkans. "The Italian forces are the most numerous among the NATO troops stationed in Hungary," the prime minister added, emphasizing the robust defense ties between the two countries. Meloni voiced strong support for Hungary’s priorities during its EU presidency, including addressing demographic decline, enhancing competitiveness, and strengthening European defense​.

Engagement with Germany and NATO

During his visit to Berlin, Prime Minister Orbán discussed Hungary’s EU presidency and European security with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. They explored ways to enhance EU competitiveness and address migration issues. Scholz’s acknowledgment of PM Orbán’s role in facilitating decisions at the recent EU summit highlighted Hungary’s constructive engagement within the EU. Scholz recognized Hungary's efforts in navigating complex EU issues and emphasized the importance of collaborative approaches to solve European challenges​.

Additionally, PM Orbán's meeting with Mark Rutte, the candidate for NATO secretary-general, focused on ensuring that Hungary would not be obligated to participate in NATO activities supporting Ukraine outside of NATO territory. This agreement underscored Hungary’s commitment to peace and non-intervention in the Ukraine conflict. PM Orbán stressed Hungary's dedication to NATO's principles while advocating for peaceful resolutions to conflicts​​.