Zalaegerszeg is now up on the map of the European automotive industry; the city is spoken of as one of the next decade’s most important automotive industry development and research venues, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview on Zalaegerszeg Television on Monday.

In the context of the inauguration of the first phase of the ZalaZONE automotive industry test track, the Prime Minister said not only we see this future before us; it is also envisaged by the executives of large international corporations, investors, researchers and innovation experts who are already working on the test track, and will remain present also in the future. “A remarkable industrial complex has been built which is a major facility even by international standards,” he said.

Western European countries are lucky because they are rich and have large industrial corporations, and in general, economic development takes place according to the decisions of large industrial corporations. “We were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain,” and so we were poorer and our companies are also much smaller. Therefore, if we were to wait for the developments of our companies alone, there would be much slower progress, and then this test track would not have been built either, the Prime Minister highlighted.

“This is when the State comes along and says […] that we are ready to intervene in the economy from the side of development and create something about which we know that it will be required and will have a business future,” but without a government decision, things like this would not come into being. This is why the government allocated 45 billion forints for the purposes of the implementation of this industrial development, the Prime Minister said.

Mr Orbán said it is of great significance that construction works and research activities are being carried out simultaneously, and the first phase could effectively be regarded as a project in its own right. He added that, according to plans currently in the making, a third phase of this major project will also be implemented.

The Prime Minister praised Zalaegerszeg’s community and the city leadership’s positive and diligent attitude with which they seized the opportunity of economic development. In the Zala County seat, in just a few years four thousand new jobs have come into being, the unemployment rate stands at 2.5 per cent, and the city has been able to launch very significant projects also as part of the Modern Cities Programme, he listed.

He took the view that the city is undergoing a process of integral development, and will become an important regional centre in the vicinity of Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.

Regarding the European parliamentary elections due to be held at the weekend, Mr Orbán said he is campaigning to convince the people that “they should not look upon this election as something remote that happens far away in Europe,” because this is their own election. It is about Hungary, and the message of the Hungarian people must be relayed to Brussels now. “I am not so optimistic as the surveys” because in fine weather it is more difficult to involve people in politics, but he would like to convince them that this will be a very important election, he said.

“It is not irrelevant whether Europe will be led by pro-immigration or anti-immigration leaders,” it is not irrelevant what the weight of the Hungarian government will be in Brussels because the election may also strengthen or weaken governments. It is likewise not indifferent for the Hungarian government what the outcome of the election will be, the Prime Minister stressed.

In the European Council of the prime ministers, “how electors will decide in one country or another will carry weight and have consequences,” because as a result of this election, prime ministers and entire countries may find their positions strengthened or weakened. “Our interest is that we gain in strength in Brussels. For this we need the people, we need their support and votes,” Mr Orbán said at the end of the television interview.