Visegrád countries must join the ranks of winners in the wake of changes in the world economy
The Hungarian Presidency of the V4 will be working to ensure that in the altered situation the Visegrád countries join the ranks of those who can boast of being the winners of the changes in the world economy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday in Katowice, Poland.
At the press conference of the summit held to mark the end of the Polish Presidency of the Visegrád Group (V4: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia), Mr Orbán highlighted that the goal of the Hungarian Presidency is to swiftly restart the economies of the four countries. This requires investments, and there are investments if taxes are kept low. In light of this, they do not support any international initiative that leads to tax increases. Infrastructure is equally important, we have a competitive disadvantage especially in the North-South direction, he added.
The Prime Minister mentioned security – an issue that is closely linked to migration – as another important goal. They do not support the mandatory resettlement of migrants, and in the present health situation migration poses an especially high risk, he pointed out.
He observed that they also urge the European integration of the countries of the Western Balkans.
Mr Orbán stressed that we further need intellectual recharging, and so the Visegrád countries will take part in the debate on the future of the European Union both individually and collectively.
He took the view that the Hungarian V4 Presidency will be exciting, and it is to be hoped also successful.
Mr Orbán congratulated Poland on the performance it has rendered in the past year, highlighting that Poland happened to be faced with the most difficult year of recent decades as president of the V4. However, cooperation has been successfully maintained among the four countries, none of them have been left behind in trouble, he said.
He added that they cooperated in bringing home citizens who found themselves stuck abroad and in the distribution of equipment, they sent physicians to one another’s countries and they also helped one another with vaccines.
He said in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has changed; the world economic and world political status quo has been redrawn. The world’s largest free trade zone has come into being in Asia, and Brexit has been accomplished. It is important to maintain good relations with Britain also in the future, he laid down.
He also said that important things have happened within the V4 as well. If the four countries were a single entity, they would be the world’s 17th largest economy whose growth is double that of the EU and whose sovereign debt accounts for a mere 4 per cent of the entire EU’s sovereign debt. Additionally, after Germany, it is in these countries that the most people have jobs in the EU, he listed, adding that these are diligent and ambitious countries that want to work.
In answer to a question, Mr Orbán said eliminating our infrastructure drawback is the top priority. During the Cold War, infrastructure connections were built in the East-West direction, to this day this is what we have. However, from the viewpoint of the V4, the construction of North-South connections would be key, he pointed out, adding that the question is how much of the financial opportunities afforded by the EU can be mobilised for the realisation of these goals.
The Prime Minister said it is likewise important that Central Europe is a significant economic factor in the EU, and so “we cannot be spoken to” in the manner we have sometimes witnessed recently. Central Europe represents an economic weight in the European economy which commands respect, he stated.
He highlighted that they will not accept being told by another EU Member State how to raise Hungarian children, or being told that a Central European country should be brought to its knees. This must be brought to an end, Central European countries are full members of the European Union which have made a major contribution to the EU and enabled the EU to keep up with other regions. Therefore, they expect the respect they deserve, he stressed.
Hungary will take over the V4 Presidency from Poland on 1 July.