Egypt’s ability to protect its borders is crucial for Hungary and Europe

Egypt’s ability to protect its borders both by land and by sea is crucial for Hungary and Europe, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after he had talks with the Egyptian head of state on Wednesday in Budapest.

At a press conference held jointly with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Prime Minister highlighted: “The security of Berlin begins not at the suburbs of Berlin, the security of Paris begins not at the French-German border. The security of Brussels begins not at the suburbs of Brussels, but at the Serbian-Hungarian border, and in a wider context it begins” in Egypt, at the country’s land and sea borders. “We can only speak in words of the highest praise about the fact that since 2016 no vessel transporting migrants has been allowed to set out from Egyptian territory which is a great contribution to our security and to the security of the whole of Europe,” Mr Orbán stated. 

He stressed that there are no disputes between the two countries, and they are both seeking opportunities to intensify cooperation. 

The Prime Minister thanked the Egyptian head of state for offering actors of the Hungarian economy the possibility to take part in the development of the Egyptian economy. 

He said on Tuesday they met with the Egyptian President in the V4 format, while today they concentrated on bilateral relations and also concluded multiple agreements. Egyptian-Hungarian relations are based on the unprecedented growth, even by international standards, that Egypt has produced in the past seven years, he said. 

He recalled that after 2011 Egypt and in general the region affected by the Arab Spring was a chaotic region. There was not only political chaos, but also disorganisation in the economy, he pointed out. 

He said he met with Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for the first time in 2015, and he introduced his plans about how to turn Egypt into a modern economic great power. Those plans were based on two pillars: the fortunate geographical position of the country and a population of 100 million which is enormous power, he highlighted. 

According to Mr Orbán, “we Hungarians, too, have a thing or two to boast about,” and we, too, are able to showcase new things, growth, full employment, and many other things,” but this is growth in the dimension of a country of ten million. The growth that has occurred in Egypt is growth realised in the dimension of a country of a hundred million, he stated, adding that “the image of Egypt that we had in our heads” at the time of the Arab Spring has been entirely replaced with the conviction that Egypt can be a fantastic partner of Hungary. 

The Prime Minister congratulated Egypt on its vast development, and welcomed the fact that the Hungarian economy will also be able to take part in major Egyptian developments in the coming decade. They agreed to appoint delegates who will make recommendations about what projects should be implemented in which areas. They have already identified some areas, including cooperation in agriculture, he said. 

He highlighted that also this year Hungary had exported more than seven thousand cattle. Hungarian agriculture has an excellent reputation in Egypt, and so they are thinking in terms of major common projects in animal husbandry, the cultivation of grains and the production of sowing seeds within the framework of both Hungarian-Egyptian and V4-Egyptian cooperation, the Prime Minister said. 

He observed that one of Hungary’s largest industrial companies is supplying railway carriages to Egypt. This project is already under way, and they are also planning to build maintenance and production units on the ground. 

He said they agreed to raise the number of students coming from Egypt to Hungary. This year, 700 young Egyptians have applied for Hungarian scholarships; with regard to this, they decided that Hungary would now provide as many as 115 scholarships to young Egyptians, he said. 

He also mentioned that we must equally pay attention to the Eastern Mediterranean gas sources. In the past few days, Hungary’s decision to have its gas supplied not from the East, but from a southerly direction has created a great stir, but at the same time this is a great opportunity to connect Egypt’s future LNG capacity to the European gas supply via Hungary, he stated. 

Mr Orbán confirmed that Hungary will stand for a swift decision within the European Union about border protection campaigns designed to support Egypt’s efforts that are necessary for keeping migration under control. Egypt must be given financial assistance, and the modern military border protection equipment that is currently being kept on an embargo list by the EU must be made available to Egypt. 

He stressed that Egypt is proof of the fact that “if there is a will, then both borders by land and by sea can be protected”. This is an important and valuable lesson for Europe.

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