Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after his talks with Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska

5 April 2024, Banja Luka (Бања Лука)

Thank you very much.

Mr. President, 

In the last few minutes a word that has been used a lot is “assistance”. From your point of view there may be some things that look like assistance, but from my point of view they look more like investment. When I look at Republika Srpska, I see an area with a great future. So my starting point is not what the statistics show today. I think that you live in what will in the future be one of the fastest-growing parts of Europe. We think that what you have offered us is the opportunity to participate in the rapid development of the next decade or two ahead of you. Of course there are political crises and economic difficulties, but from Hungary’s point of view the potential of your country is clearly significant. You may ask how I know this. Indeed the statistical figures do not back this up. What may help you to understand our attitude – or mine – is that I am a prime minister who comes from a village. This does not mean that we do not understand statistics, because we go to school and we do understand them; but we have a different way of assessing the future of a settlement, a city or a country. So when I want to know what the future holds for a country, I walk the streets, I look in the courtyards, and – no matter what the situation is right now – if three things are right, then there is a future. And when I look at you in this way, here these three things are in order. The three things are these: firstly schools – school buildings are in order; secondly churches – here the churches are in order; and thirdly the cemeteries – and the cemeteries are also in order. So I think that if a community keeps these three things in order, it will just be a matter of time before it develops.

And this is borne out by the numbers related to our economic cooperation. So after the introduction, I would like to inform the press that we have talked about economic issues, because there is a very specific economic cooperation between our two countries. We have established a framework for this, and we will expand it in the future. We have talked about economic cooperation, because we are happy to supply you with agricultural equipment that will help you to exploit the potential of your knowledge in agriculture. Two dozen serious, large Hungarian businesses have come here looking for partners, not because they want to offer assistance, but because they want to do business with you, as they believe that this economy has potential. And today we have also started to talk about the fact that after all this, we should open a new chapter in the history of what is called “people-to-people diplomacy”, whereby people are also somehow brought closer together.

I would like to inform you that in no time at all the missing section of the Hungarian motorway system leading in this direction will be completed as far as our border with Croatia. Therefore getting to you will be much faster than it was earlier. And when the Croats build the missing section, it will add extra momentum: we will be real neighbours. We would like to come here, and we would like to welcome you, too, to work, to relax, and to study. We want to find shared opportunities in the fabric of everyday life. And this is what I agreed today with the President. So I feel that – after finance, economics and politics – now in the coming years we will also strengthen the network of relations in everyday life. In addition to the boring political issues that the President has already exhaustively discussed, this was the most important element of today’s meeting. 

I just want to repeat this: you cannot have a country being told that you are independent, you have state symbols, and we are negotiating membership with you, while at the same time someone from outside is interfering in your decisions. This cannot happen! A country is either independent, mature and capable of standing on its own two feet, or it is a protectorate. Between these two conditions there is no intermediate position. This is why the current muddled situation is bad for everyone: it is bad for Europe, it is bad for the Serbs, it is bad for the Bosniaks, it is bad for the Croats, it is bad for Bosnia, it is bad for everyone. And one should not destabilise a country for the sake of a few officials with a nice delegacy. So everyone can calmly go home and leave it to the elected Bosnian leaders to sort out the fate of this country. I think this is the unambiguous, clear and straightforward way to talk about it, and that this process should be accelerated.

Thank you very much for your attention.