Europe, and Hungary face security, economic and energy supply risks, and good neighbourly relations become even more valuable in times of uncertainty, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a press conference in Slovenia on Friday.
He underlined the value of Hungary and Slovenia’s good relations, noting Hungary and Slovenia’s cooperation in air policing as part of their NATO missions. Economic ties between the two countries are also “excellent”, the prime minister said, noting that bilateral trade turnover had risen by 35%. Investments between the two countries are also up and a joint fund has been set up for border region developments, he added. Hungary and Slovenia are also connected by the fact that they both view the minority communities in each other’s countries as assets, Orbán said. Support for the ethnic Slovene community in Hungary has risen six-fold since the Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance came into power in 2010, and Slovenia also sees ethnic Hungarians living in its territory as assets, he added. Answering a question, the prime minister said the aim of the cooperation between Serbia, Austria and Hungary was to jointly protect their borders against migration, adding that they welcomed help from other countries, too, including Slovenia. This, he said, would boost the protection of Europe’s external borders and push effective border control as far south as possible. As regards plans for a Slovenian-Hungarian natural gas pipeline, Orbán said the two countries were in agreement on the need to link their gas networks. Hungary has a larger-capacity pipeline in mind, while Slovenia wants to start smaller before increasing capacity, he said. This can be resolved, as Hungary can accept starting out with a smaller-capacity pipeline, he added. Meanwhile, Orbán said Hungary can look to Romania, Croatia and Slovenia if it wants to further reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Hungary is interested in all three directions because it wants to end its dependence and wants as many options as possible. The prime minister added that he was prepared for pragmatic cooperation with his Slovenian counterpart. Asked about energy exchange prices, Orbán said that though unlike Slovenia, Hungary imports most of its energy from Russia, the prices on the energy exchange also impact energy prices in Hungary through the agreement signed with Russia.