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Orbán: CEE countries are the economic engine of the EU

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MTI, Tibor Illyés

The economies of the countries of the CEE region are working, while the EU’s immigration policy has “failed miserably,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated at a press conference held in Budapest with visiting Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (left) and Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán at a press conference in Budapest. (Photo: MTI/ Tibor Illyés)

“We are the economic engine of the European Union,” Orbán asserted after official talks Wednesday with his Polish counterpart, a former finance minister who became prime minister last month. 

Hungarian state news agency MTI cited Morawiecki as pointing to the contribution of the Visegrád Group - Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - to economic growth and stability in the European Union.

Orbán noted that the CEE is the fastest-growing region, without which one cannot speak of any meaningful expansion in the EU. Therefore, he added, Hungary intends to state its position in the “clearest and strongest possible terms,” according to a statement published on kormany.hu, the Hungarian governmentʼs website.

“We would like a work-based and performance-oriented economy, and we do not want to live in an empire again. The EU must be an alliance of nations,” Orbán said.

The European people do not want immigration, while some leaders in Europe continue to push the idea, Orbán stated. We must continue to protect our borders, migration must be stopped, and help must be taken where it is needed, he added.

The Hungarian prime minister thanked Poland for its assistance in protecting Hungaryʼs borders. In his view, Poland has thus made it clear that the protection of Hungary’s southern borders is not a Hungarian internal affair, but a shared European issue.

Cooperation in large projects will be at the center of relations between Hungary and Poland in future, Orbán went on. Among these, he mentioned the importance of north-south energy and transport infrastructure connections, noting that most today go east-west.

As for cooperation with Western countries, Orbán asserted that Germany is trading far more with the Visegrád Group today, in terms of volume, than with France. German-Visegrád cooperation is at least as important economically for Europe as French-German cooperation, he insisted.

Asked about opportunities for cooperation between the Polish and Hungarian economies, Orbán said that while “neither of us wants to live off German money,” the two countries are happy to receive investments. In his view, it has been ascertained in recent years that if Central Europe, “the region lying between Russia and Germany,” is given opportunities to trade, invest, work and develop, it is able to stand on its own two feet economically.

“This is a new era. This is a new reality,” explained Orbán, expressing his belief that this is why Central Europeans must have sufficient input in debates on the future of the EU. He said it must give the region political self-confidence that this is where the greatest growth is recorded within the union.

Visegrád development bank mooted

Hungarian news agency MTI cited news wire Reuters as reporting today that the establishment of a regional development bank by the Visegrád Group was also among the issues discussed at the meeting between the Hungarian and Polish prime ministers.

“We talked about a Visegrád development bank,” Morawiecki was quoted as saying on his return to Warsaw. “We can afford a bank that would support infrastructure development in the region. We strongly confirmed [with Orbán] that weʼre interested. If the Czechs and Slovaks respond positively, we could quickly set up this bank,” he added.

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