“Hungary and Bulgaria are both supporting families to an outstanding degree in European comparison, rather than migration”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Friday following talks in Budapest with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Marijana Nikolova.

At the press conference following the meeting, the Minister stressed: “Hungary and Bulgaria have a totally similar view on the most important issues relating to the future, and on the responses that should be provided to the most important challenges”.

He told the press that the issue of migration had been discussed at length during the negotiations, in view of the fact that Bulgaria lies along the Western Balkan migration route that migrants are attempting to use, and is turning over a hundred migrants-a-day back from the border.

“We are talking about two countries that are supporting their own families, (…) that operate strong family policy systems (…) and that support families to an outstanding degree in European comparison, rather than migration. We believe that instead of funding migration, funding should be provided to families”, he stated. “The fact that Hungary and Bulgaria took joint action against the mandatory resettlement quotas, and also did not vote in favour of the UN Global Compact for Migration, corroborate this”, he highlighted.

“We continue to insist on the fact that the external borders of the European Union must be protected, and that migration is a security issue”, the Minister said, noting: “We have proven this not only in words, but also in deeds, in view of the fact that a security fence has been erected on both the Bulgarian-Turkish border and Hungary’s southern border”.

Mr. Szijjártó drew attention to the fact that migration pressure is continuing to increase in view of the fact that 224 thousand illegal immigrants arrived in Turkey during the first eight months of this year, with six thousand arriving in Greece during the past two months. “And last week, there was a day when 550 arrived, the most since the Turkey-EU agreement came into force”, he indicated.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade also spoke about the fact that the fate of Hungary and Bulgaria is also analogous with relation to energy security, since they both fundamentally acquire the required quantity of natural gas from one source and via one route in view of their geographical location, but both countries want to change this state of affairs. “It is a mutual goal of Hungary and Bulgaria to be successful with relation to the diversification of gas import routes, and for the southern gas corridor, which would link Turkey to Hungary via Bulgaria and Serbia, to be established at the earliest opportunity”, he emphasised.

“In accordance with the Government’s decision, Hungary is ready to launch the capacity purchasing procedure that would result in enabling Hungary to import 10 million cubic metres of natural gas-a-year from the direction of Serbia”, the Minister stated. “We will also continue to insist on the fact that the national energy mix must remain within a national sphere of competence”, he underlined.

With relation to economic cooperation between the two countries, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that Hungarian bank OTP has acquired the Bulgarian subsidiary of Société Générale, as well as Groupama’s life insurance division, thanks to which it has become an important player on the Bulgarian bank and insurance market. He also mentioned the fact that Hungarian pharmaceuticals company Richter has succeeded in having many of its products included on the list of medicines that are subsidised by the Bulgarian state, thanks to which the market share of Hungarian pharmaceuticals has begun to increase spectacularly on the Bulgarian market.

With relation to joint cultural and historical relations, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Marijana Nikolova reported on the fact that the parties would like to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Hungary and Bulgaria, and will be holding a day of friendship between the two peoples in November.

The Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the fact that Hungary is a strong investor on the Bulgarian market. With relation to migration, she said: “Europe must defend its own citizens; border protection and resisting migration pressure are extremely important”.

At the press conference, Mr. Szijjártó was asked with relation to the fact that, in a letter to the head of German pubic media, the Hungarian Ambassador to Berlin raised objections concerning comments on Hungary and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán aired in a documentary on the 2015 migration crisis. The Foreign Minister said: “It is nothing new that there is a ‘campaign of lies’ being waged against Hungary in certain Western European circles with relation to the events in 2015, and in certain cases these campaigns of lies border on the falsification of history”. Mr. Szijjártó rejected this, adding: “It is interesting that such media reports come into being in environments that value freedom of the press and democracy to such an extent, but while only asking one of the sides involved”.

In reply to a question concerning the upcoming hearing on the EU’s Article 7 proceedings, the Minister said it is unacceptable that the Finnish presidency is ‘totally ignoring’ European procedural regulations and inter-institutional relations during the preparation of the session. “We believe in debates that are based on the facts, but will be demanding that Hungary is given the respect to which it is due”, he declared.

In response to a question from the press on the chances of MEP and former Hungarian Justice Minister László Trócsányi being elected EU Commissioner, Mr. Szijjártó said: “If anyone has democratic legitimacy from among the candidates for the post of Commissioner, it is László Trócsányi, since he came out on top on an electoral list that was voted for by 53 percent of Hungarians”. “If democratic principles are not just important to European institutions in words, then there can be no barrier to László Trócsányi’s appointment”, he said in evaluation.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)