Outstanding Central European growth expected

23 January 2016

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that over the next ten years Central Europe will undergo a phase of outstanding growth, while the European Union as a whole will be characterised by stagnation, or weak progress “at a toddler’s pace”.

The Hungarian prime minister was speaking at the Slovenian-Hungarian business forum held in Ljubljana on Friday, which was attended by hundreds of businesspeople. He drew attention, among other things, to a forecast by Harvard University’s growth projection centre. This has predicted an outstanding growth rate for the Central European region, all the way from Poland to the Adriatic. In the Hungarian prime minister’s words, the European Union may perhaps succeed in moving “the European project out of the rut it is in”, but we should not expect “a spectacular boom”.

Mr. Orbán pointed out that in relations between Slovenia and Hungary, “there are more opportunities waiting to be explored than we would think”. The current annual trade balance of some two billion euros falls far short of our potential, he said, and therefore the joint government meeting on Friday also served “to elevate relations which are at an acceptable level to the level of strategic cooperation”. Among the weaknesses in relations, the Hungarian prime minister mentioned that the motorway networks of the two countries are not fully connected, railway lines between the two countries are not electrified along their entire length, and the electricity and gas networks are likewise not linked together.

Hungary’s financial foundations are now stable, new funding opportunities are emerging, new foreign trade offices are being opened and taxes are being reduced, he pointed out. But these things do not mean that there is enough money in the pockets of businesses and the state: “If the representatives of national capital are not successful, the country itself will not be successful either.” Therefore it is in the best interest of every Hungarian that Hungarian businesses make higher profits than earlier, because without this the Hungarian economy will not be successful either, the Prime Minister said.

In relation to the development of cooperation between the two countries, he added that he sincerely hopes that the border region will also be given a new impetus, and that as a result Hungarians on the Slovenian side of the border and Slovenians on the Hungarian side of the border will prosper in equal measure.

Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar told members of the business community at the forum that the current joint government meeting has opened a new chapter in relations between the two countries. He agreed that there is still work to be done in linking and developing infrastructure, but he pointed out that great opportunities await in the process of privatisation and the promotion of investment in areas including agriculture, forestry and tourism.

“The economy cannot prosper without satisfactory political relations, and politics cannot be successful if it fails to help the economy”, the Slovenian prime minister pointed out.

MTI; Photo: György Varga/MTI

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Speech at the Slovenian-Hungarian Business Forum

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  • Viktor Orbán, 52
  • Lawyer, graduated at Eötvös Loránd University and studied at Pembroke College, Oxford
  • Married to Anikó Lévai
  • They have five children: Ráhel, Gáspár, Sára, Róza, Flóra
  • Chairman of FIDESZ, vice-chairman of the European People's Party


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