Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán after a meeting of the Hungarian-Serbian Strategic Cooperation Council

20 June 2023, Palić/Palics

Madam President, Mr. President, Prime Minister,

Just a few succinct remarks. It is easy to appreciate that the value of one’s land is influenced by the value of one’s neighbour’s land. This is why we Hungarians have an interest in a Serbia that is rich, orderly and happy; that will also increase the value of Hungary. What I have experienced over the past long years shows me that the DNA of our two countries share certain characteristics. I see that freedom, sovereignty and independence are in the DNA of the Serbs. The same is true for the Hungarians. When the President spoke about the respect that Hungarians always give to Serbs, the reason is this shared DNA. Today I am meeting President Vučić for the 32nd time. So in politics, friendship and alliance can only be achieved through hard work. I clearly remember our first meeting, when I was curious to know what the then Prime Minister of Serbia and the Serbs themselves thought about the past. I was curious to know whether they think of the past as something we are prisoners of, or whether they think that the past is the past, and that we will shape the future – not as prisoners of history, but as countries with free will. President Vučić affirmed that it is the latter: we are not prisoners of history, and we will shape history. Since then, ours has been a well-functioning cooperation. Today we have made connections between important things. As the President said, Serbia is not a member of NATO, while Hungary is; Serbia is not a member of the European Union, while Hungary is; Serbia is a country of Orthodox Christianity, while Hungary is [historically] a country of the Roman Church; Serbia is in the Balkans, while Hungary is in Central Europe. These differences do not make cooperation difficult, but add value. When we connect these two different countries through strategic cooperation, huge energies are released, and Serbs and Hungarians will benefit. I stress that today, all over the world, people are talking about why one country or another is not cooperating with another country. Decoupling, de-risking: these are the words of international politics. We are setting a good example to the world, showing that you should not say who you do not want to cooperate with, but should try to cooperate with as many countries as possible. Serbia is the key country in the Balkans, and Hungary is the gateway to Central Europe. We are facing fantastic opportunities.

And finally, Mr. President, if you will allow me, I would like to raise a delicate matter. We are following the events in Kosovo, we are following them closely, and we can see the wrongs that the Serbs are suffering. I find it unacceptable for the international community to regard as legitimate an election which had a turnout of less than 4 per cent. We Hungarians can all see this and we all understand it. There is the case of these three police officers from Kosovo. I respectfully ask the President – I ask you, Mr. President, Dear Aleksandar – to consider this. Serbia has enemies, who are eager to harm Serbia. This is the type of matter in which if you would consider my request and Hungary’s proposal and release and return these three Kosovo Albanians, then in international politics Serbia would certainly be helped, and your cause would be advanced. Therefore here, in public, I respectfully ask you to consider this.

Thank you very much for your attention.