Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his talks with Borjana Krištó, Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina

22 June 2023, Sarajevo (Sarajevo)

I thank the Prime Minister for hosting us here. Our talks have been excellent and stimulating. I have been looking forward to coming here to meet the leadership of the new Bosnian government, and I can say that my impressions have been very good. I have encountered friendship and respect. Of course, we are a proud nation to whom respect is important, and so we will always give it to Bosnia, and likewise be happy to see it reciprocated. 

Three factors shape Hungary’s relations with you. The first is that we are neighbours; a few tens of kilometres separate us, but in geographic, economic and political senses we are neighbours, and therefore we view what is happening in Bosnia with the sense of responsibility that a neighbour should. I assured the Prime Minister that you can always count on Hungary to pursue responsible neighbourhood policy.

The second thing is that we look on in admiration as we see you operating the most complex political system in the world. We observe this with admiration and professional recognition. We Hungarians sometimes find it difficult to run even a small coalition, let alone such a complex structure. So we commend you for maintaining the proper functioning of your country.

And our third starting point is that together with you we are both in a community of destiny. We have suffered different kinds of communism, but they were all communism; and the transition that followed, which is still in progress, has tormented everyone – both you and us. So there is a natural community of destiny. To us you are not strangers: you are in the same family. 

I informed the Prime Minister about internal processes within the European Union. I told her that everything is in a state of flux, that there are major changes in the European economy and in European technology, and also in European security policy. And one of the manifestations of this great transformation is the war between Russia and Ukraine, and Europe’s involvement in it. We Hungarians believe that this is increasing the value of the Balkans. Europe needs all the energy and all the dynamism it can muster, because now we are losing competitiveness – and this process must be halted, and then reversed. The European Union cannot do this by relying solely on its internal forces: we need new dynamics, we need new players. And so for us Hungarians the Balkans are not a problem, but the European Union’s last significant reserve of resources. What I am saying may sound strange, but today the European Union needs the Balkans – and thus Bosnia and Herzegovina – more than vice versa. 

I briefed the Prime Minister on Hungary’s policy towards the Balkans, which on some points coincides with the European Union’s policy, and on some important points differs from it. So Hungary is a neighbour of yours which pursues sovereign foreign policy. Accordingly, whatever is said in Brussels, we are in favour of rapid membership of the European Union for the Balkans and for Bosnia and Herzegovina. We believe that cohesion funding should be provided now, without waiting for full membership. Access to development funds must be brought forward; not all the money should go only to Ukraine, but there must also be investment in security and development in the Balkans. We Hungarians do not support a policy based on sanctions; sanctions policies do not lead to results, and in the longer term we believe that the best thing is to return as much power as possible to the peoples living here. The long-term solution lies not in the presence of outsiders, but in cooperation between the peoples living here. Therefore it is good to put as many powers and opportunities as possible in the hands of local people. This is the essence of our Balkans policy. 

We also talked about economic issues. I asked for signals from the Prime Minister. Hungary is a country that respects you, and respects the political intentions of the Bosnian government. Therefore we are looking for signals as to which sectors it is considered desirable for Hungarians to invest in. We are happy to be present in these sectors, just as we are happy to be here in aviation, in the financial sector and in renewable energy. We will continue our economic work here, and if we are given opportunities in new areas, we will be happy to take them.

I told the Prime Minister that we are happy to continue to play our role in ensuring security in the Balkans. We have been participating in EUFOR and will continue to do so, and we are ready to increase our participation if necessary. 

All in all, I can tell you that today’s talks have been a good start. Now is the opportunity for business people and specialist ministers to add depth and dynamism to the cooperation between our two countries.

Once again, Prime Minister, I am grateful to be here.