Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We have just welcomed a rare guest to Hungary. Here are two countries that have no unresolved issues in their relations. Here are two countries that have a positive view of each other. Here are two countries that are looking for cooperation, but for some reason the density and strength of diplomatic relations is not what it should be. So the Prime Minister, Mr. Dorin Recean, came here with the intention – and I entered our talks with the intention – that closer cooperation should be created. There is every basis for the two countries to work together much better than they have done so far, and we both want to make an effort to take advantage of this situation.
I will briefly report on the outcome of the negotiations. Hungary unconditionally supports Mr. Dorin Recean’s ambition to take his country, together with the President of Moldova, into the European Union. So Hungary supports Moldova’s membership of the European Union. We have done so in the past and we will continue to do so: there is no compromise, there is no debate. We believe that the country – the country represented by our guest – is on a direct path towards EU membership. We understand the geopolitical context in which they exist, which makes it necessary for them to join the European Union as soon as possible. Furthermore, with the European Union’s competitiveness declining and the fact that we are suffering from all sorts of problems, we need new energy. So it is not simply that membership of the European Union is good for Moldova: it is also that the European Union needs new energy, it needs countries that we know to be countries that are balanced, stable and populated by people who want to work. Because of its guest workers, Moldova has a good reputation everywhere in Western Europe. They – and we – have a reputation as people who want to work, can work, and like to work. And that is exactly the kind of people we are short of in the European Union today. So the simplest thing would be not to have a brain drain from Moldova to the West, but for Moldova itself to become a member of the European Union. That would help us, the members of the European Union, a great deal. I would like to inform you that Moldova signed an association agreement with the European Union eight years ago. It has taken eight years for accession negotiations to start. This is an offensively long time; so I hope that with the speed of the accession negotiations we can make up for some or all of the lost time – to at least regain some of it. We have already been through this process, we have already joined the European Union, and we know what it entails. It is an extremely complicated process. It seems simple politically, but the technical process itself is extremely difficult, there are a lot of details to be negotiated, and it requires very serious preparation. The offer we have made to our Moldovan friends is that Hungary and its diplomatic academy are ready to receive a large number of students, shall we say, from Chișinău, to help them prepare for the very difficult negotiation process that will be required by membership and – for many years after membership – by the implementation of the European legal system.
We have had diplomatic relations for thirty-two years. Four years ago we signed an agreement to be strategic partners. It has paid off, and today I can tell you that trade between our two countries is at a record high: we have reached the USD 200 million mark, and we would like to keep raising that figure. We have an interest in the European Union starting negotiations as soon as possible, and rapidly concluding them. I am talking about negotiation on long-term reciprocal customs-free relations. It would be good for us to have a customs-free relationship between Moldova and the European Union. This is desirable for the Hungarian economy.
For those who are interested in the specifics, I would say that our pharmaceutical exports are growing steadily – indeed rapidly. Another of our strengths is our export of food products. We are present in the banking sector, and also in air travel. Today we agreed with the Prime Minister that the ball is in our court, so we Hungarians must take urgent and effective steps to ensure that direct flights between the two countries are restored. In my profession, making time-bound commitments is a risky business, but now I see it as possible that direct flights between the two countries will be restored by the end of March, and then we will be able to again keep in direct contact with each other.
And finally, as both countries import the energy needed to run their economies, we can also cooperate in this area; because it is in the interests of us both to have the most developed and complete energy networks in the Central and Southeast European region. This also represents economic and military security for the countries concerned, so we also see the development of energy networks as being in our mutual interest. All in all, I can tell you that there is complete agreement between the two governments on all strategic issues.
Thank you very much, Prime Minister Dorin Recean, for visiting us. Thank you for bringing your delegation. We will continue our discussions over a working lunch, but I can already say that we have had a successful bilateral meeting. Thank you very much!