The Hungarian and Slovenian economies are coming out of the crisis stronger than when it began, something not many countries can say, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said earlier today, following his meeting with Slovenian PM Janez Janša in Lendava, Slovenia. During the meeting, the two leaders signed an agreement on the development of Slovenia’s Porabje and Prekmurje regions.
Within the development framework set up under the agreement, the two regions will receive EUR 5 million in support for the period between 2022 and 2026.
According to the Hungarian prime minister, the new agreement had to be put in place because it serves not only the people living there but all Slovenians and all Hungarians. In the PM’s view, the agreement will further strengthen the friendship and alliance between the two countries.
"We are living in times, and we will continue to live in times" where friendship is the most valuable currency and sincere friendship, the historic community of destiny, is our greatest asset, he said.
At the joint press conference, the prime minister said that although the epidemic had hit both Hungary and Slovenia hard, they were among the few countries that had successfully defended themselves against it.
He said that going forward, the two countries face multiple challenges, such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the global economic restructuring, which is taking place to the benefit of the East and at the expense of the West. "It will be easier to find answers together than separately," he said.
Prime Minister Orbán underlined that the situation in Europe has changed. “A few years ago, we thought that without the Western economies, Central Europe could not function, and this may still be true today, but it has been complemented with the truth that without the Central European economies, Western Europe can no longer function,” PM Orbán said.
He said that a much more equal relationship had been created in the European Union in terms of economic power and interdependence, which is why "Hungary is more courageous in standing up for its own truth, its own ideas and its own plans.” The PM added that "we are not troublemakers, we are just stronger and more aware that our voice must be heard at least to the same extent" in Brussels as that of Western European countries.
“The more the Central European countries cooperate, the stronger their voice will be,” he said.
He noted that April would be an interesting month, with four important weekends — Easter, as well as the Hungarian, Slovenian and French elections.
The prime minister additionally said that Slovenians and Hungarians see the minorities living in each other's territory not as a conflict but as a source of strength.
In response to a question, PM Orbán said that the Slovenian EU Presidency had done its utmost in the second half of last year to warn the European Union that "an energy price increase was right around the corner, for which we were not prepared.” The rest of Central Europe has said that this is a major issue, he added.
On the EU’s climate policy proposal, PM Orbán said that it is not just that energy prices have gone up, but that the EU's climate policy has failed. “The central core of the EU’s envisioned climate policy was how they were going to keep raising the price of energy so that people would use less energy,” he said, adding that “no safeguards against market speculation were built into the pricing to limit price increases.”
He noted that in Hungary, families have been protected by reductions in their energy bills, but businesses are suffering because of energy prices, because the Hungarian budget can no longer afford the same protection system of fixed prices for companies as it does for families.
The prime minister also said that Slovenia can continue to count on Hungary to provide a friendly investment environment. Hungary is currently the seventh-largest investor in Slovenia, but "we would like to do better [...] and move up to third or fourth place,” he said.
On the situation in Ukraine, PM Orbán said the aim was to avoid war and to maintain peace. However, "goodwill is not enough for peace,” as "peace requires strength. There is no peace for the weak.”
In his view, "we are not in a good position" because Europe does not have a military force that can match the Russian army, and as long as this is the case, "the security of Europe will not be decided by Europeans but by the Russians on one side and the Americans on the other,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán explained.
He said that this is why Hungary supports European aspirations that call for military cooperation between EU member states, that want to develop defense industries and that want to build a serious European defense capability for peace.