Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (2nd from right) with his Slovak, Polish and Czech counterparts (from left) in Katowicze – Photo: PMO

Restart of V4 partners' economy vital for Hungary, foreign minister says

Orbán: V4 countries should become winners of global economic transformation

The Hungarian presidency of the Visegrad Group will promote the member countries' efforts to become winners of global economic changes, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Katowice on Wednesday. Orbán told a press conference marking the end of the Polish presidency of the V4 that the Hungarian presidency, to start on July 1, will help the Visegrad Group members (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) restart their economies through boosting investments. As taxes need to be kept low to attract investments, Hungary does not support international initiatives for tax hikes, he added.

Orbán named security as another important aim, adding that this was tightly connected to migration. Hungary does not support the mandatory distribution of migrants, he said, adding that migration posed an especially great risk in the current health situation.

Further, Hungary advocates the soonest possible European integration of Western Balkans countries, the prime minister said.

Orbán stressed the need of a restart in intellectual terms as well. He said the Visegrad Group countries, both individually and as a group, will participate in the debates about the EU’s future.

Orbán congratulated Poland on its performance as V4 president in what he called the most difficult year of recent decades. Nevertheless, cooperation continued among the four members and none of them were left alone in trouble, he added. The Visegrad Group members cooperated in transporting citizens home when Covid restrictions made travel difficult, distributing equipment, sending doctors to each other and also in access to vaccines, he said.

Orbán said that after the coronavirus pandemic, the global economic and world politics status quo has changed. The world’s largest free trade area has been established in Asia and the United Kingdom quitted the European Union, he said. The prime minister said that good relations with Britain should be maintained even after Brexit.

Orbán said that if the V4 countries were considered a single entity today, they would represent the world’s 17th largest economy, with economic growth twice as fast as the EU’s and public debt representing only 4 percent of that in the EU. After Germany, the V4 countries include the highest number of workers in the EU, he said.

In response to a question, Orbán said that overcoming the area’s lag in infrastructure development was a priority. During the Cold War, connections were established in east-west direction and the situation has not changed since, he said. However, building north-south links have now become vitally important for the V4 countries. It remains to be seen, however, how much EU funding can be involved in this programme, he said.

Orbán said central Europe represented considerable economic weight in the EU economy. The central European nations are full members of the European Union with major contributions to its overall performance that help the bloc keep pace with other regions. Accordingly, they demand due respect, he said.

The prime minister said Hungarians will never accept other EU members telling them how to raise their children. Nor will they accept anyone saying that a central European nation should be brought to its knees, he said.

Restart of V4 partners’ economy vital for Hungary, foreign minister says

For Hungary’s economy to recover quickly, the economies of other Visegrad Four member states should also develop dynamically, Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in Katowice where he attended the summit meeting of the Visegrad Group prime ministers on Wednesday.

Hungary’s trade turnover with its three Visegrad partners exceeded 10,000 billion forints (EUR 28.5bn) even in the past “black year” of global trade, he said, adding that the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia together accounted for 14 percent of Hungarian trade. As central Europe’s “remarkable economic achievement” was to no small extent due to low taxes, all external attempts at forcing the countries in the region to raise taxes should be rejected, he said.

The Hungarian V4 presidency will spare no effort to prevent the imposition of the global minimum tax on the Visegrad Group, Szijjarto said. “It is our vital interest that tax policies should remain under national control,” he said.

Concerning security challenges to the post-pandemic world, Szijjarto said that “Brussels once again puts the mandatory resettlement quotas on its agenda but it is in vain”. Central Europe should make it clear that it does not accept illegal immigrants, he said.

As another priority, Szijjarto said that EU enlargement should not be struck off from the agenda and the Western Balkan countries should be admitted to the bloc as soon as possible. The security and stability of the Western Balkans is a key condition of stability in central Europe, he said.

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