In Jerusalem on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that he has the same views as the PM of Israel with regard to several 21st-century issues, including security, combatting terrorism, the defence of borders and the problem of modern-day anti-Semitism.
In a press statement released jointly with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Orban stressed that they agree that the most important issue is security: every nation has the right to its own security, which it is duty-bound to provide to its citizens. He said today Europe is afflicted by migration and terrorism, against which action must be taken.
Orban pointed out that potent forms of modern-day anti-Semitism have emerged in Europe, and that nowadays anti-Semitism is increasing in Western Europe, while it is decreasing in Central Europe. The PM stated that Hungary will continue to enforce zero tolerance in relation to anti-Semitism. He said that citizens of Jewish origin in Hungary are under the government’s protection, and “we are proud” that people who openly declare their Jewish roots can feel safe in Hungary. He pointed out that Hungary has done a great deal to assist in the cultural rebuilding of the Jewish community, with the renovation of synagogues and support for education. He said that Hungary stands ready to cooperate in the fight against anti-Semitism.
Orban also highlighted that Hungary will always take action to ensure that international organisations treat Israel in a fair, balanced and unbiased manner. He said that in the future Hungary will also continue to closely cooperate with Israel in international forums.
The PM told the press that economic cooperation between the two countries is strong, with two hundred Israeli businesses operating in Hungary, providing jobs for five thousand people – primarily in the field of modern technology.
Orban asked his Israeli counterpart to support the Hungarian cultural season to be staged in the country next year. Speaking about Hungarian culture, he said that “We have plenty to showcase”. He also asked the Israeli prime minister to support the establishment of a museum for the Hungarian-speaking community in Israel. “We are not asking for money, only goodwill and support”, he said.
Orban noted that last year his Israeli counterpart spent several days in Budapest, and that the current visit is in reciprocation for that. He said that it is symbolic that this visit is taking place on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. He stated that the outstanding bilateral relations between the two countries are due in part to the personal cooperation between the two prime ministers, and the fact that both countries are led by patriotic prime ministers. He observed that next year will be the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, and said that this will be celebrated.
The Hungarian government takes the fight against anti-Semitism seriously and is a vocal supporter of Israel in international forums, Netanyahu said. He noted that Hungary backed the UN resolution condemning anti-Semitism. The Hungarian government has also allocated 10 billion forints (EUR 31m) for the renovation of synagogues, he added. While not large countries, Hungary and Israel are “big on ambition, talent and intellectual ability”, Netanyahu said. Bilateral economic ties, which already thrive in several sectors, have a lot of potential, he said.
Netanyahu also addressed the issue of radical Islam. “We both understand that radical Islam is a real threat to Europe, the whole world, us and our Arab neighbours.” The main source of militant Islam is Iran, he said, adding that Israel is in the frontline of the fight against radical Islam, “in many ways protecting Europe, too”.
Netanyahu thanked Hungary for “protecting Israel” and for “standing by Israel again and again in international forums“. An important aim of Israeli foreign policy is to change how Israel is treated by international organisations and bilaterally, he said, adding that Hungary often played a leading role in this effort. Last July, Budapest hosted a summit between Israel and the Visegrad Group, he noted, adding he had “fond memories” of that visit. Orban is “a true friend of Israel”, Netanyahu said.
The Hungarian government has performed and will continue to perform all its duties towards the Jewish community in Hungary, Orban told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Hungary has the largest Jewish community in central Europe, which puts a special responsibility on the country. The government protects all its citizens, including the Jewish community, and has a policy of zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, Orban said.
Rivlin said that Israel appreciates Hungary’s efforts to clamp down on anti-Semitism, as well as its support for Israel at international forums.
Orban is on a two-day official visit to Israel. He is later scheduled to meet David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, before visiting the Yad Vashem Memorial Center, where he will lay a wreath and plant a tree in the Grove of Nations.
“The success of Hungarian-Israeli economic relations is extremely important with regard to maintaining the growth trajectory of the Hungarian economy”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto declared in a statement. He met with Minister for Regional Cooperation Cahi Hanegbi and General Director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Juval Rotem.
Reporting on his meetings, the minister stressed: “To what extent we are able to take part in advancements that lead to the development of a modern and innovative automotive industry is decisive with respect to the future success of the Hungarian economy”. “And Israel is one of the world’s number one locations for the research and development projects that determine the future of the innovative automotive industry, which is based on self-driven cars, electromobility and the everyday use of artificial intelligence”, he explained.