On his first bilateral visit abroad, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki discussed migration, economy and bilateral relations with Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban in Budapest on Wednesday.
Viktor Orban started his speech by stressing that starting the year with receiving friends means a good sign for the rest of the year, and Hungary will definitely need good signs this year. “2018 will be an important year for Europe”, the last full year of the current “European cycle”, he said. According to the prime minister, the last few years showed what is functioning in the EU, and what is not. He stressed that there are a number of personal and historical reasons which make this visit important, but these are not the most important dimension of the meeting for the public.
The most important is that the leaders of two countries are meeting today, which both belong to Central Europe.
“The last years have proved that Central European economic models work. Central Europe work. Today there are successful countries in Central Europe, countries which add to the EU’s strength. We add more than anyone thought back in 2004 when these countries joined the union. Back then we didn’t think that more than ten years later we can say that we are the economic engine of the EU,”
he said, adding that Central Europe is the fastest growing region of the EU. Orban stressed that both Poland and Hungary contributed to the stability of European economy. He repeatedly stressed during the press conference that Central Europen countries want and will stand on their own feet.
The prime minister pointed out that contrary to the previously mentioned economic factors, the EU’s immigration policy is not working, “it failed spectacularly”.
“It’s clear that European people don’t want immigration, while some European leaders are still enforcing the failed immigration policy. The Hungarian standpoint is that we have to protect the borders, migration must be stopped. We shouldn’t bring migrants here, but we should bring the help where it’s needed,”
Orban stressed. The prime minister thanked his counterpart for Poland’s contribution to Hungary’s border defence efforts. He said that with the help Warsaw made it clear that “protecting Hungary’s southern border is not only Hungary’s internal issue but a European issue. Not for the first time, and maybe not for the last time in history”.
After discussing migration, Orban reiterated that Central Europe has a vision of Europe’s future, it’s a successful region which supports a work-based economy.
“We don’t want to live in an empire. For us, the European Union is still the alliance of free European nations”,
he stressed, adding that a strong Europe can only be built on strong nation states. “We Hungarians want Europe to remain European, so we reject immigration, but support families and raising children, and we are convinced that Europe’s Christian roots should be protected,” he added.
Regarding Polish-Hungarian bilateral economic relations, he said they agreed with Morawiecki to focus on the big infrastructure projects.
Morawiecki stressed the importance of the Visegrad Group, adding that it gives economic and political stability for the EU, it’s valuable for the whole Union. He stressed that some recent events questioned the unity of the EU, but Visegrad countries are not questioning it, they believe in European values and want to build it together. Morawiecki said that Hungary and Poland have a similar standpoint regarding the EU’s next budget and want to present their opinion together. He stressed that the two countries want to harmonise their opinions in several cases.
Morawiecki said Warsaw completely agrees with Hungary’s standpoint on migration, and haven’t changed its opinion since the beginning of the migration crisis. He stressed that sovereign member states should have the right to determine who they want to welcome in their territory.
The Polish prime minister said he invited Viktor Orban to the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence. “During the last centuries, we fought together for our and your freedom”, he stressed.
Answering to a question about the mandatory refugee relocation quota, Orban said this year is expected to be the “year of great battles”, because those countries who want to enforce their migration policy on Hungary, see this year as their great last chance for that. He said that in addition to the security aspects of migration, it’s important to point out that some Western European countries say that entered “the post-Christian and post-national era”, which they consider Europe’s future. He stressed that Hungary doesn’t want to enter any such new era, because it has been national identity and Christian culture that protected and kept Hungary for a thousand years.
When asked about extended cooperation with Austria’s new government, Orban said the Visegrad countries don’t want to formally extend the V4 format, but they do plan to have strong relations with other countries. The prime minister said he doesn’t want to share too many details now regarding his upcoming trip to Austria, but he will meet the leaders of the Austrian government this month. He said Austria is an example that democracy is working in Europe, and it’s not possible that the leaders of a country don’t follow the people’s will in major issues for a longer period.
“Democracy has been restored in Austria, because the Austrians, who don’t want immigration, elected a government which doesn’t want immigration either. This will be the case everywhere in Europe. I’m convinced that this is just a question of time,”
Orban said it’s very important that Poland became a member of the UN Security Council and it represents a Central European approach and hopefully its interests too.