Hungary’s PM Orbán: 2018 To Be Year Of Mass Debates

  • 4 Jan 2018 12:02 AM
Hungary’s PM Orbán: 2018 To Be Year Of Mass Debates
The year 2018 will be an important one for Europe, “the year of great debates”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a press conference after a meeting with Mateusz Morawiecki, his Polish counterpart. Orbán noted that 2018 would be the last full calendar year ahead of the next European parliamentary election.

This is why, he said, many in Europe see 2018 as the last opportunity to turn the bloc into a collection of “immigrant countries”. He said the matter would be discussed at the European Council meeting in March.

Asked about the possibility of expanding the Visegrad Group, Orbán said one of the alliance’s biggest strengths was that its members are bound by their shared histories, culture and level of economic development. Expanding the group would put its effectiveness at risk, the prime minister argued. Orbán added, however, that the group is considering intensifying its relations with Austria.

Orbán said he intends to meet members of Austria’s new government later this month, along with some of the country’s key economic players and key figures in its intellectual life. He said Austria had proven that democracy is working in Europe and that it was inconceivable that in the long run a country’s leaders would not heed the will of voters on important matters, such as migration.

Asked about opportunities for Hungarian-Polish economic cooperation, Orbán said that while neither country wanted to “live off of German money”, they were both happy to accept foreign investment.

The prime minister said it had become clear over the past few years that central Europe is capable of standing on its own two feet economically if it gets a chance to trade, invest, work and develop. Poland is a major economic player in the region, Orbán said, adding that “those who believe in central Europe” have an interest in a strong Polish economy.

Orbán also said that Germany’s trade volume with the V4 was significantly larger than its trade volume with France. He added that cooperation between Germany and the V4 was at least as important to Europe as French-German cooperation. “This is the new era. This is the new reality,” the prime minister said, adding that this was why the central European region deserved to have a say in the future of the bloc according to its weight.

Asked about Poland becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Orbán said Poland represented the unique experience of countries that “fought for and won their freedom with blood”. Poland’s membership is “very important” for Hungary, because it represents central European identity and interests, Orbán said. The prime minister also expressed hope that Poland’s membership would lead to the V4 addressing global security issues.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

MTI photo: Illyés Tibor

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