Five prime ministers, left to right: Bohuslav Sobotka (Czechia), Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel), Viktor Orbán (Hungary), Robert Fico (Slovakia), Beata Szydło (Poland) — Click to enlarge
An historic meeting was held in Budapest today, July 19, 2017. It was the culmination of a two-day state visit to Hungary by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first such visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
The prime ministers for the Visegrad Four group of Central European nations (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic) were also present. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán currently holds the rotating presidency for that group, and he was authorized to act on behalf of the other three in his discussions and negotiations with the Israeli prime minister. The results may be seen in the two videos below.
This summit represents a sea change in relations between Israel and the European Union. The V4 countries are breaking away from customary the anti-Israel politics as usually practiced by Brussels. The V4 and Israel have interests in common. Unlike their neighbors to the west of the Iron Curtain, they have no intention of allowing mass Muslim immigration to destroy their countries, which is what has happened to Britain, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
This is a vote of no-confidence in NATO by both Israel and the V4. The Central Europeans have learned the hard lesson that they can trust neither the EU nor NATO (e.g. see Kosovo, 1999). Mr. Orbán is looking for new security arrangements to avoid having to cut a deal with the Russians — which nobody really wants to do, except from a very strong negotiating position. Which is what the V4 will gain from an alliance with Israel: the Russians know that Israel is not a trivial power.
If President Trump is smart (and I think he is), he’ll take this as a heads-up about the coming shift in power relations between Europe and Israel.
Many thanks to CrossWare for translating the Hungarian in the first video, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling and the uploading:
Yesterday’s remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu:
Prime Minister Netanyahu on Twitter:
Following my meeting with the Visegrad Group, I met with Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish PM Beata Szydlo & Slovak PM Robert Fico
Video transcript for Viktor Orbán:
|0:04||Good day, respected ladies and gentlemen, respected Mrs. Prime Minister [Israeli PM’s wife],|
|0:08||Prime Ministers! Today something|
|0:12||happened in Budapest that has never before occurred.|
|0:16||For the first time ever, we had a meeting|
|0:20||between the prime minister of Israel and the prime ministers of the V4 [Visegrad Four] countries .|
|0:24||My task is now to sum up briefly|
|0:28||the results of the summit.|
|0:32||Before we met the Prime Minister of Israel|
|0:36||we had a separate discussion,|
|0:40||I must say about three short sentences:|
|0:44||We sent a letter to the prime minister of Italy; this is already published,|
|0:48||so you can all read it. We agreed|
|0:52||that of the agencies moving away from London,|
|0:56||at least one of them should be placed in the V4 countries|
|1:00||— the new center should be placed into one of the V4 countries —|
|1:04||so we support each other and work together on this issue. Finally,|
|1:08||the prime ministers of the V4 recorded a negotiating mandate|
|1:12||for me, which concerns our negotiations with the French government.|
|1:16||This will be the basis of the discussions with them,|
|1:20||and about its mission directive. That is about that.|
|1:24||After this let me to return to the discussions with the prime minister of the State of Israel,|
|1:28||their Prime Minister and the V4 prime ministers’ summit, in a nutshell.|
|1:32||The prime minister — Mr. Netanyahu —|
|1:36||suggested that we setup a working group|
|1:40||— a shared work group — to combat terrorism.|
|1:44||We accepted this. The prime minister had another suggestion,|
|1:48||to setup another working group|
|1:52||to facilitate technological cooperation, in the interest of this…|
|1:56||we will work out the details. Thirdly, the prime minister invited us|
|2:00||to Israel. We thought it over; we considered it a great honor,|
|2:04||and accepted it. I would like to remind everyone…|
|2:12||… of the point of view of the state of Israel: the defense of the external borders of every state|
|2:16||has key importance for the safety of that nation.|
|2:20||That is a thought that we V4 countries share.|
|2:24||We had a long discussion about the importance of the defense of external borders.|
|2:28||We also had a long discussion about how the free flow of people,|
|2:32||without any control and checks, increases the risk of terror.|
|2:36||We talked about the relationship between|
|2:40||the European Union and Israel, too.|
|2:44||The Hungarian point of view in this matter was:|
|2:48||The European Union should value|
|2:52||those efforts that the State of Israel|
|2:56||makes for the stability of the region, which|
|3:00||is not only in Israel’s interests but in Europe’s, too, because it protects us|
|3:04||from newer and newer waves of migrant invasion.|
|3:08||We appreciate these efforts and we recommend that the European Union,|
|3:12||should also appreciate them. Similarly,|
|3:16||by reviewing the relationship between the EU and Israel,|
|3:20||we noted that it is not reasonable.|
|3:24||It requires improvement. We would like relations between the EU and Israel|
|3:28||to be characterized by rationality and logic.|
|3:32||And instead of criticizing Israel, they should cooperate with it.|
|3:36||We should open the doors for that [cooperation] and make opportunities available.|
|3:40||Hungary will represent such a political direction in|
|3:44||its dealings within the EU. That, in a nutshell,|
|3:48||was the essence of the discussions. I represented the Hungarian point of view for you;|
|3:52||now I pass the word to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.|
|3:56||Here you go…
Video transcript of yesterday’s remarks by Benjamin Netanyahu, as posted on the PM’s Facebook page:
Thank you, Prime Minister Orbán, for this very warm welcome. I am honored to be the first Israeli sitting prime minister to have an official visit to Hungary. It’s quite astounding that it didn’t happen before. It’s about time. And it’s wonderful to be here on this first time.
When I come to Hungary, the first thing I think about, before anything else, is that Hungary was the, in many ways, the birth of modern Zionism, the movement that led to the establishment of the modern Jewish state because in Hungary was born our modern Moses, Theodore Herzl. And I intend to visit on this visit the site of his home. It is probably inconceivable to think of the Jewish state, the State of Israel today, if it weren’t for that man born here in 1860, who envisioned the rebirth of the Jewish state and who saw in his mind’s-eye also the great challenges that would be posed anti-Semitism. He thought that this ultimately was the best solution for the Jewish people.
Now, since that time, obviously, the Jewish people have suffered great tragedy. We’ve overcome it. You’ve alluded to it. And also, the people of Hungary faced great struggles, and you’ve overcome it. You have, we have both built modern, vibrant states. We recognize the past as we seize the future. The future I think belongs to those countries who innovate. Israel is an innovation nation. Hungary is a country with great, great talents. And we believe that this partnership, along the lines that Prime Minister Orbán discussed, I think these are the ways to proceed.
Tomorrow, there is going to be a meeting here of CEOs from both countries. They’ll meet to discuss economic and business terms. Prime Minister Orbán and I also discussed cooperating on areas such as cyber and areas of security, which are important for both countries. And of course this will… I am sure that this will get a practical boost from this visit. Of course we are going to instruct our — and we have — our respective people to make sure that this happens. But the idea is not to stay where we are, but to move forward. I think there is a great future for both of us. I know that technology by itself, Prime Minister, my experience, is not enough. It’s a requisite, but it’s not sufficient. What you need to make economies grow is reforms, market reforms. We discussed this many years ago. You called me and you said, “We’d like to learn from your experience.” And I actually sent somebody there to tell you at least what we were doing. I have since followed what you have been doing. And obviously there has been a growth of both of our economies, and I think together we can do even more. And this is, I think, the result of this visit.
We’re also going to deepen cultural ties to bring our peoples closer. Many Israelis come here. I invite Hungarians to come to Israel. You have a beautiful country. We have a beautiful country. I think we should visit each other.
I discussed with Prime Minister Orbán the concerns that I heard raised from the Jewish community. He reassured me in unequivocal terms, just as he did now, publicly. I appreciate that. These are important words.
And I also want to thank you, Prime Minister, for standing up for Israel in international forums. You’ve done that time and again. We appreciate this stance, not only because it’s standing with Israel, but it’s also standing with the truth. And I believe that Emanuel Macron, whom I visited with yesterday, two days ago, said something very important. He said there’s a new anti-Semitism that is expressed in anti-Zionism, that is, in delegitimizing the one and only Jewish state. In many ways, Hungary is at the forefront of the states that are opposed to this anti-Jewish policy, and I welcome it. I express the appreciation of my government and the people, many people in Israel, for this.
Equally, I want to say that I look forward to the opportunity tomorrow to meet with the Visegrad Group. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for hosting this group, to invite me to speak to this group, because I believe that we have many, many common interests. So for all these reasons, I want to say thank you for this invitation and I look forward to our discussions.