Prime Minister on official visit to Budapest to further strengthen cooperation
Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec is today on an official visit to Hungary at the invitation of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Their meeting signals an affirmation of good neighbourly relations and regular political dialogue between Slovenia and Hungary, and at the same time marks the first official meeting between the two current prime ministers.
Talks between the two leaders focused mainly on an assessment of bilateral relations between the two countries, the dynamic of economic cooperation and the possibilities for additional exploitation of the existing potential, on current European issues and the challenges in the common neighbourhood.
The two prime ministers assessed relations between the countries as very good and close. The two countries have regular dialogue at all levels. The two ethnic communities occupy a special place in bilateral relations. The countries are also linked by a mutual interest in intensifying cooperation in the areas of business, transport and energy infrastructure, tourism and culture. Hungary is the sixth biggest trading partner of Slovenia. Merchandise trade exceeded EUR 2 billion for the first time in 2018.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec underlined that despite the trend of growing trade between the two countries, there is still ample scope for strengthening economic cooperation, especially regarding investments and projects in the area of advanced technologies. There are numerous possibilities for intensifying cooperation in e-mobility, digitalisation, the car industry, renewable energy sources and the green economy. He expressed satisfaction that in September next year Hungary will be a guest country at the 53rd international craft fair in Celje. The two prime ministers also reviewed the situation regarding transport projects, and progress in establishing the planned gas and electricity connections between the two countries.
As part of the visit, on the ministerial level a Memorandum of Understanding was signed regarding development cooperation in Africa, which will strengthen cooperation and the common presence including in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.
In their talks the prime ministers devoted major attention to the ethnic communities, and affirmed the constructive dialogue under way within the mixed commission for implementing the agreement guaranteeing the rights of the Hungarian community in Slovenia and the Slovenian community in Hungary, and the leaders expressed a commitment to talks on the possibilities of joint activities to support the ethnic communities on both sides of the border. In line with the recommendations for the adoption of measures to promote economic development of the Porabje (Raba Valley) region, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec expressed particular satisfaction at the formulation of a development programme for Porabje and stressed the importance of implementing this on the Hungarian side.
Concerning European issues, the talks covered migrants and the functioning of the Schengen Area. The prime ministers also talked about conditions in the Western Balkans and on the expansion of Euro-Atlantic integrations. Slovenia and Hungary share views on the enlargement process, for they are linked by their geographical closeness and the related understanding of the region. The prime ministers were united in the position that a slowing of the enlargement process would represent a major obstacle to progress and stability in the region. The two leaders shared their disappointment that the latest meeting of the European Council produced no agreement on the start of negotiations on EU membership for North Macedonia and Albania, and they advocated greater emphasis on the European future of the Western Balkans in the term of the next European Commission.
Regarding migrant policy, Slovenia supports an integrated approach in dealing with migrations and the associated challenges, advocating a common European solution and implementation of the principle of solidarity in the EU. For Slovenia it is important to discontinue controls on the internal borders and to establish full functioning of the Schengen Area.
The programme of the visit will continue with a meeting between the Prime Minister and the head of the Hungarian Ethnic Community Dr László Kövér, and the visit will end with a meeting with Slovenians who live and work in Hungary.
As part of the visit, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek attended a promotional event for Slovenian tourism, organised by the Slovenian Tourist Board. In its relations with Hungary, Slovenia places tourism among the more important and promising sectors. In recent years visits by guests from Hungary have been growing steadily, with the number of Hungarian tourists increasing in 2018 by more than 24% compared to 2017, and the number of overnight stays jumping almost 30%. Last year out of all the countries from which tourists arrive in Slovenia, Hungary occupied sixth place in the number of overnights and arrivals. At the promotional event the Minister underlined that he wants Slovenia to be recognised worldwide as a high-quality tourist destination, and for this reason the promotion of Slovenian tourism in foreign markets is extremely important, especially in neighbouring countries. Business and tourism events featuring presentations of Slovenian tourism companies are an important contribution to the growing number of guests from Hungary.