Back when the bridge was inaugurated, central Europeans were rightfully optimistic, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of Mária Valéria Bridge connecting Hungary and Slovakia. “We believed the years of real struggles and the hard part were behind us,” he added. “But that mood has evaporated and we had to realise that we cannot have our future be dependent on the goodwill of outside players,” Orbán said. “We have to fight for our own achievements each and every day.” “Twenty years ago even Brussels was on our side and supported us even with the construction of this bridge,” the prime minister said. “But today, more and more it sees central Europeans as unequal partners and second-class member states.” Orbán said Brussels wanted to force central Europeans to live with people it did not want to live together with and to enact policies that would limit their economic opportunities. “They also want to force a way of life onto us that goes against everything we value and want to preserve,” he said. “It’s hard to fight this threat.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister said the Visegrad Group (V4) comprising Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland had continuously prospered over the past decade. The V4 have established an effective and stable alliance and have tackled civilisational crises together, Orbán said. Twenty years after the reconstruction of the Mária Valéria Bridge, central European cooperation is stronger than ever, he added. “The Mária Valéria Bridge has remained a symbol that says we are the future of Europe and we mustn’t allow the bridges connecting us to be torn down ever again,” Orbán said.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger at the ceremony called Mária Valéria Bridge “a success story and the story of two good neighbours”. The bridge had contributed to the development of bilateral ties and cooperation, he said, adding that a number of joint infrastructure projects including energy links had been implemented as a result, boosting the region’s energy security. The two countries are also tied by other shared interests, he said, noting “common positions” on issues such as nuclear energy and migration.
Mária Valéria Bridge, blown up at the end of the second world war, was rebuilt in 2001. It was inaugurated on Oct. 11 by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Slovakia’s Mikulas Dzurinda.