Prime ministers Viktor Orbán and Janez Jansa – Photo: PMO

Jansa: Hungary-Slovenia deal enables more comprehensive cooperation

Orbán: Hungary, Slovenia economy stronger than before pandemic

Hungary and Slovenia are among the few economies that were "afflicted" by the pandemic but emerged from the crisis stronger than they were before, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Monday in Lendava (Lendva), in northeast Slovenia, after talks with his Slovenian counterpart Janez Jansa.

Jansa and Orbán signed an agreement on regional crossborder developments.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Orbán said the agreement would improve the lives of all citizens of Hungary and Slovenia by stengthening “friendship and alliance” between the two countries.

The world is currently facing challenges such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and “the changes in world economy in favour of the East against the West”, Orbán said. “Solutions will be easier to find together than separately,” he said.

Orbán noted changes in European economy. “A few years ago we thought central European economies were not viable without western Europe. That may still hold today, but now western European economies cannot work without central Europe, either,” he said.

Economic power is now more equally distributed, and co-dependency is stronger in the European Union, “so Hungary can represent its own truth, its own approach and its own plans more boldly”. “We are not troublemakers, merely stronger than we were and conscious of our right to have our voice heard” as much as that of western European countries, he said.

The stronger the cooperation among central European countries, the stronger their voice, he said.

Slovenia and Hungary both see minorities as assets rather than a source of conflict, he said.

Responding to a question on the energy crisis, Orbán said the Slovenian government, which held the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2021, “did everything in their power to warn the EU of an impending jump in energy prices we were not prepared for”. Other central European countries did the same, he said.

“This is not just about rising energy prices but also about the failure of European climate policy,” which he said was counting on long-term price raises as an incentive for people to cut consumption. “However, they failed to include protections against speculation,” he said.

A “new plan is needed, because the next step in the old plan” would be to raise prices for households and car fuel, he said. He pledged to “fight” against such measures.

Hungary’s government has kept its utility price cuts for households in place to protect private citizens, “but companies have suffered because the budget could not support a similar protection for them”, he said.

Orbán also pledged to keep Hungary’s investment environment “welcoming” for Slovenia. Meanwhile, Hungary aims to increase its weight in investments in the country, where it is currently the seventh largest investor, he said. “We want to come up to third or fourth place,” he said.

Concerning the situation in Ukraine, Orbán said the goal was to maintain peace, but added that “goodwill is not enough to make peace”. “Peace requires power and the weak will not have peace,” he insisted. He warned that “we are not well off” because “Europe does not have a military force comparable to that of Russia, and so long as that is hte case, Europe’s security will not be determined by the Europeans but by the Russians on one side and the Americans on the other”.

That is why the Hungarian government supports European efforts to build military cooperation within the community, developing a defence industry and creating “serious defence capabilities” to ensure peace, the prime minister said.

If the situation escalates in Ukraine, a neighbouring country, “Hungary will come under tremendous pressure”, he said. He noted that tens of thousands of people had fled to Hungary during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. The pressure would be even more severe from Ukraine, a much larger country, he said.

Answering a question about the upcoming parliamentary election, Orbán said “we are prepared for victory”. He said “we have the arguments” to continue on government, in terms of the “political, economic, and moral” achievements of the past 12 years, during which “Hungary ran forward and looks quite different” than in 2010.

Jansa: Hungary-Slovenia deal enables more comprehensive cooperation

The agreement which Hungary and Slovenia signed on Monday will enable more comprehensive cooperation between the two countries and form the basis for the continued growth of bilateral relations, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said.

Jansa told the joint press conference that the first agreement on the protection of Hungary and Slovenia’s minorities on the two sides of the border had been signed 30 years ago. The current agreement covers so far unaddressed matters, he added.

The prime ministers signed an agreement on a joint fund to develop the mixed-population Prekmurje and Raba regions in 2022-2026 by providing an annual 5 million euros for each.

A cooperation agreement on setting up the fund was signed by Jansa and Orbán in Celje last September.

Trade between the two countries increased by 20 percent last year compared to the previous year “which demonstrates that businesses on both sides of the border discovered previously untapped opportunities”, he said.

Hungary is Slovenia’s seventh largest foreign trade partner, Jansa said, adding that he expected this to change in the near future considering that “economic ties between neighbourly countries are twice as useful” as between non-neighbours.

He said that elections were to take place in both countries in April and expressed hope that cooperation between Hungary and Slovenia would continue “regardless of what awaits us after the elections”.

In response to a question, Jansa said cutting energy prices would be impossible without nuclear energy.

Commenting on the Ukraine crisis, he said “I think I can say for both of us that we trust the conflict would not escalate because that would be against everybody’s interests”. He said there was consensus in the EU about the need for a peaceful solution and warned that even a hybrid attack could cause plenty of damage, even if there is no armed conflict.

Prior to the press conference, foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar and Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec signed an agreement about a Hungarian-Slovenian educational, scientific and cultural programme for 2022-2025.

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