Hungary is taking a big burden off Germany’s shoulders by preventing anyone who enters Hungary from sidestepping the law, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a press conference held jointly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks in Berlin on Thursday.
Orban said Hungary had built a fence along its southern border to “regain control over its own territory”. He said a legal dispute was emerging around claims that the first point of entry for migrants to the EU was not Hungary but Greece, adding Hungary’s standpoint is that Germany should send migrants back to Greece. “We’re ready for that long-term dispute,” he said.
He said Hungary felt wronged to be accused of lacking a sense of solidarity when it went to great lengths to protect the EU’s southern border. Fully 8,000 armed people protect the southern border 24 hours a day. Migrants would immediately make their way to Germany otherwise, he added. Every day, 4,000-5,000 migrants would arrive in Germany were there no effective border controls, Orban said, adding that this amounted to Hungarian solidarity. “Our borders will remain protected in the future, too.” He added that it was a strategic goal for Hungary to “protect Europe so that its internal markets continue to operate smoothly”.
Orban said Hungary “sees the world differently” from Germany. Hungary’s view is that giving aid to migrants makes them conclude they are welcome to come over, he said. So help must be given at the point that it is needed, he said. “We don’t want to import problems.” “This is a difference in approach”, he said, adding, however, that this difference would not hinder cooperation.
As regards bilateral economic relations, Orban said Hungary was building a labour-based economy with a view to reaching full employment. Hungary’s cooperation with Germany is especially helpful towards achieving this goal, he added. Bilateral investment and trade figures are “fantastic”, he said, adding that he and Merkel had discussed how to keep up this level of cooperation. Hungary and Germany will set up a working group with a view to intensifying bilateral cooperation in the area of innovation and technology, he said.
Trade turnover between the Visegrad Group (V4) countries and Germany is 50 percent more than Germany’s trade volume with France, Orban said. “There’s a new reality unfolding before our eyes,” he said, arguing that the future of Europe’s economic growth lay in German-V4 cooperation. He said the two countries were in full agreement that both were interested in imposing the lowest possible tariffs.
On the topic of defence policy, Orban noted that Hungary was among the first member states to recommend the implementation of a joint European defence policy and the creation of a joint EU defence force. Hungary wants to modernise its military “on a European basis”, and is ready to cooperate with Germany in this respect, he added.
In response to a question, the prime minister said a central European NATO command headquarters would be set up with German help, adding that Hungary was also in talks with other member states about its establishment.
Hungary has signed framework agreements with German companies in connection with the modernisation of its defence forces. Cooperation between the two countries will be continuous, Orban said.
On another subject, the prime minister noted that Hungary is the only non-German-speaking country which provides German-language education from kindergarten all the way to university. Hungary has a number of ethnic German kindergartens and schools, as well as German-language universities, he noted. The influence of these universities should grow and their activities should be expanded, Orban added. The prime minister thanked Germany for its cooperation and its decades-old friendship.
Cooperation between Germany and Hungary is “excellent” and Hungary is an attractive destination for investors, Merkel said, adding that cooperation should be further strengthened when it comes to the European economy facing the great challenges such as digitalisation, alternative modes of transport and artificial intelligence. She noted that Germany and Hungary saw eye to eye in rejecting protectionist economic policies.
Merkel also said that the two countries acted in close cooperation in defence policy and the creation of a shared “strategic culture”, and complementing NATO with the European intervention initiative.
In the areas of economic and defence cooperation, Hungary-Germany ties “can reach a new level”, the government spokesman said. Zoltan Kovacs said that innovation and technology are fruitful areas of cooperation for strengthening economic cooperation. Most German companies operate in high value-added and forward-looking industries, he noted, adding that Hungary is looking to elevate bilateral ties to a new level. In the coming weeks and months, Hungarian and German ministries and working groups will pursue new avenues of cooperation, Kovacs said.
Szijjarto: Hungary, Germany to build tight defence cooperation
Hungary and Germany will build an “extremely close” defence cooperation including related industrial projects, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told Hungary’s public media in Berlin on Thursday. Szijjarto met Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defence minister, Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Bundestag, as well as Guenther Krichbaum, head of the EU committee.
Concerning his talks, Szijjarto said that cooperation in the military industry would be “tighter than ever before” and noted that Hungary had recently ordered 20 new Airbus helicopters.
Szijjarto also announced that NATO would set up a central European command with Germany’s support. He said that the initiative had come from Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia, and argued that the organisation currently has 22 commands but none in central Europe. He added that the new command would be fully operational by 2022 “to add a great asset to guarantee the security of the region”.
Szijjarto noted that Hungarian soldiers were serving together with their German peers in several international missions, such as ones to Afghanistan and the Western Balkans.
The minister spoke highly of bilateral cooperation and the “close friendship” between the two peoples, and said that in light of those relations “it is high time we did not only talk about one issue over which we clearly have a dispute” but put on the agenda “all other important” bilateral or European issues “apart from migration”. He argued that Hungary is currently home to some 6,000 German firms, which employ some 300,000 Hungarians, and “enjoy all the benefits of Hungary’s investment environment”. “A number of the political interests and values of Hungary and Germany coincide”, he insisted, and went on to say that “we should focus on those rather than on some conflicting views on migration”.
Source and photo: MTI