The Presidents of Slovenia and Hungary advocate a common European policy towards the migration issue

Budapest, Hungary, 3. 9. 2015 | press release

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is paying an official visit to Hungary today and tomorrow. After a reception ceremony with military honours, Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Hungarian President János Áder had a lengthy face-to-face meeting followed by a press conference with both heads of state.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is paying an official visit to Hungary
Photo: STA

President Pahor attaches great importance to friendly relations with neighbouring countries, with which Slovenia has a wide range of traditionally good relations. Today's official visit of the President of the Republic thus confirms Slovenian efforts to maintain sincere, functional and exemplary relations with all its neighbouring countries. Most of Slovenia’s trade in goods is with its neighbours, and the majority of foreign direct investments in Slovenia originate from them as well.

President Pahor began his talks with the President of Hungary by pointing out the excellent relations between Slovenia and Hungary, as well as noting the alliance of the two countries in the EU and NATO. The two states are further connected by national minorities, who provide a closer and even more authentic economic, cultural and other contacts between the two nations. The two presidents are therefore committed to high standards of protection and funding of minorities. President Pahor expressed his satisfaction with the improved status of Slovenian minority in Hungary. He also pointed out his satisfaction with the cooperation in cross-border projects on education, culture, economy and infrastructure that are funded from several EU sources.

Both presidents estimated that there is still a lot of untapped potential for cooperation in business. Hungary remains the sixth largest trade partner of Slovenia; in 2014, trade in goods amounted to EUR 1.7 billion. President Pahor said that, by creating a friendlier business environment, Slovenia is becoming more open to foreign investors. According to President Pahor, Slovenia is interested in a prompt establishment of transport and energy infrastructure connections between the two countries and, consequently, in Central Europe. He reiterated that he personally advocates closer ties between Slovenia and the Višegrad Group, which are in the interest of Slovenia.

As part the official visit, the two presidents also addressed how integrated their countries were in terms of youth entrepreneurship. Ustvarjalnik, the youth entrepreneurial sandbox, is being introduced in Hungary as an example of good practice. President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is also the project’s honorary sponsor.

Presidents Pahor and Áder devoted most of their time to the refugee issue and stressed that it requires a comprehensive and integrated approach from the European Union. President Pahor assured his Hungarian counterpart that Slovenia supports Hungary's initiative for a prompt organisation of an EU-Western Balkans conference to address the migration issue. President Pahor added that Slovenia is tackling the refugee issue with responsibility and solidarity and that it had already adopted a preventive action plan to respond to the potential sudden arrival of a large number of refugees to Slovenia.

Their talks focused on topical issues related to the European Union and its further development. Slovenia and Hungary are both supporters of further EU expansion in the Western Balkans, the region towards which both have a special responsibility, while they also cooperate on a number of regional initiatives, in particular the Central European Initiative and the Višegrad Group.

At the press conference, the two presidents summarised the main topics of their discussion and answered some questions.

As regards the topical migration issue, President Pahor stressed the need for both short-term and long-term common EU policy towards migration. "President Áder and I agreed that there is a need for making a common EU policy to address the migration problem. After the financial crisis in 2008 that Europe seems to have successfully overcome, the continent is now facing a migration crisis of similar proportions. And if it was thanks to common EU policy that we ended the financial crisis, there is no doubt that tackling the migration crisis requires similar common measures," said Slovenian President and added that it is impossible to place the burden only on certain member states; that it is impossible to continue pursuing twenty-eight different migration policies. "If we want to be successful in facing this crisis, which is primarily a crisis of helpless people exposed to war and all its atrocities, we must form a short-term and long-term policy so that these people can return home as soon as possible to live in peace and reconstitute their well-being in the long run," concluded President Pahor.

The two presidents supported the initiative for an EU financial plan for addressing the refugee crisis in the long term, which should be primarily tackled by efficient external European policy targeted at peaceful resolution of armed conflicts that are the principal reason for migration.

"After great changes, Slovenia and Hungary have established exemplary relations in the past 25 years. This does not mean that there are no opposing views, but we can discuss them openly, and the fact that Slovenia and Hungary are neighbouring countries further strengthens our commitment to continue such policy," concluded President Pahor.

As a part of the official visit, Hungarian President János Áder hosted a working lunch in the honour of Slovenian President Borut Pahor in the early afternoon. In the afternoon, the President of Slovenia laid a wreath at the memorial to Hungarian heroes.

Afterwards the two presidents visited an exhibition of contemporary Slovenian painting and side exhibitions at the Slovenian Connection event. Mr Pahor and Mr Áder are, namely, sponsors of art exhibition exchanges in Budapest and Ljubljana.

Tomorrow the President of Slovenia will meet with Hungarian prime Minister Viktor Orban.