Climate change, migration and energy issues were at the heart of talks between Hungarian President János Áder and Zuzana Caputova, his Slovakian counterpart, in Budapest on Thursday.
At the talks in the presidential Sándor Palace,
Áder underlined that the world “is in the eleventh hour” to act on climate change.
The two leaders agreed that the use of nuclear energy was indispensable in achieving climate protection goals.
As regards migration, Áder and Caputova both highlighted the importance of prevention.
Caputova underlined her campaign pledge of striving to also be the president of Slovakia‘s 450,000 citizens who identify as Hungarian.
She said she strongly believed that “a liberal democracy that guarantees each and every citizen equal rights is the best mode of protecting minorities”.
As regards the Visegrad Group cooperation, Caputova said the grouping should not settle for defending just regional interests but should also stand up for values such as the principle of the rule of law, democracy and freedom. This was important, she said, “so that we’re not seen as weakening and disrupting the European Union”.
On the topic of economic cooperation, she highlighted industrial automatisation and robotisation as the most promising areas.
Caputova said it was regrettable that for the first time none of the EU’s top leaders would be from one of the Visegrad Group countries.
But Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland are united by their citizens’ positive view of their countries’ EU membership, she added.
In response to a question, Caputova welcomed the prospective election of Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president.
Áder expressed his support for von der Leyen on the condition that she helps Hungary and Slovakia expand the capacities of their nuclear plants in the face of Austrian opposition to the upgrades.
Áder emphasised that Hungary would meet its 2030 climate targets. In addition, he said making 90 percent of Hungary’s electricity production CO2-free by this date was also a reaslitic target provided that the upgrade of the Paks nuclear plant was completed by then and Hungary doubled its solar capacities each year.
Caputova said Slovakia has vowed to go “climate neutral” by 2050 and carbon-free by 2023.
In response to a question, Ader described his meeting with Caputova as “extremely friendly”. He added that though their countries may have disagreements in the future, it would in no way jeopardise Visegrad Group cooperation.
Caputova echoed Áder’s sentiments, saying that it was natural for partners to disagree at times. In response to another question, she branded as “lies” reports in the Hungarian media that she was an “agent” of US financier George Soros.
The Slovak president is later scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and pay her respects at the grave of former Hungarian President Árpád Göncz. She praised Göncz for “having embodied the values of freedom and democracy”.