At a press conference in Budapest, held jointly with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has stated that Hungary proclaims zero tolerance on anti-Semitism. The Hungarian prime minister also stressed that Hungary had committed a crime in failing to protect its Jewish citizens in World War II.

Mr. Orbán also said that Mr. Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary – the first by a serving Israeli prime minister for thirty years – opens a new chapter in relations between the two countries, and will form the foundations for forward-looking cooperation.

The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to Israel for contributing to the security of Europe, and also agreed with the Israeli prime minister on the need for firm policy to combat rising anti-Semitism.

Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu

Mr. Orbán stated that his country recognises Israel’s right to defend itself, adding that Hungary also expects recognition of this sovereign right, as the country is currently involved in disputes related to its refusal to accept a markedly diverse population or to submit to external influence. Even though the country can admit to falling short of perfection, Hungary does not want to change its ethnic composition, the Prime Minister remarked.

The Hungarian prime minister reported that at the meeting both leaders had expressed respect for each other’s countries, with the laying of durable foundations for good relations between the two states being an important goal.

Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu

He pointed out that there is a substantial Jewish minority in Hungary, and the Hungarian state guarantees its security to the full. Mr. Orbán went on to say that Jewish life in Hungary today is undergoing a renaissance, which is a source of pride for the country, as it constitutes a major contribution to the Hungarian nation’s communal achievements.

In the meeting Mr. Orbán had also spoken of the desirability of reflection on history, stressing that Hungary’s painful history underlines the need to make it absolutely clear that collaborating with the Nazis instead of protecting the Jewish community was not only an error, but a crime. This must never be allowed to happen, the Prime Minister declared, adding that it is Hungary’s duty to protect every one of its citizens.

Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu

He also stressed the importance of cultural, educational and scientific cooperation between the two countries, touching on plans for future economic cooperation, including in the automotive industry and the high-tech sector. He also said he was delighted to welcome a patriot to Hungary, as true success is the preserve of patriotic governments: governments which seek to place national interests at the forefront, rather than to eliminate them.

Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu

In closing, Mr. Orbán said that the lesson taught by Israel is that one loses whatever one does not fight for; he expressed the hope that ever more compatriots will understand this iron law of the modern era.

At the meeting Hungary and Israel signed two agreements: on cultural cooperation for the years 2017–2019; and on cooperation in innovation, Industry 4.0 and the development of autonomous cars.

(MTI)