Meeting of Visegrad Four heads of government and the Egyptian president in Budapest – UPDATE
Visegrad Group leaders expressed their recognition of and respect for the work Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has done to stabilise the region around Egypt, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after a meeting of V4 heads of government and the Egyptian president on Tuesday.
The meeting focused on terrorism and illegal migration as well as the state of economic cooperation between Egypt and central Europe, Orbán told a press conference.
Commenting on migration, Orbán said the Egyptian government’s efforts to look after illegal migrants in Egypt and to stop them from leaving served not only the interests of Egypt but also the protection and stabilisation of the entire European Union.
The powers capable of consolidating the situation in Libya must work together in order to restore strong political leadership in the country, he added.
The mission of the Hungarian presidency of the V4, which started a few days ago, “is to strengthen the EU inside and outside”, Orbán said.
Al-Sisi told the news conference that the Visegrad Four countries were special within the European Union and it was worthwhile for Egypt to strengthen its partnership with the group. Such a cooperation can help ensure stability and security in the Mediterranean region, he added.
The Egyptian president highlighted the importance of cooperation in combatting terrorism and extremist groups and ideologies, as well as in tackling illegal migration.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said Egypt plays an important role in the fight against terrorism in the Mediterranean region, adding that it is capable of protecting its borders and preventing migrants from traversing its territory en route to Europe. He said border protection was the most effective method of tackling illegal migration along with cooperation with migrants’ countries of origin. The prime minister also talked about the economic opportunities Egypt presents to the V4 countries.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka called Egypt a key partner for the V4 in North Africa and the Middle East. He praised Egypt’s efforts in the fight against terrorism and said the country takes on an active role in combatting illegal migration and people smuggling. On the subject of the situation in Libya, Sobotka said that country’s “collapse” had made it a “transit route” for illegal migrants seeking to reach Europe. He called the stabilisation of Libya a shared interest of the V4 and Egypt.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said the elimination of human smuggling and trafficking was a shared interest of the V4 and Egypt, adding that the five countries needed to work together to eliminate the root causes of illegal migration. As regards economic relations between the V4 and Egypt, she said the country was an important partner in North Africa and was open to cooperating with the V4. Szydlo praised Egypt’s economic reforms and efforts to promote sustainable development. The V4 support Egypt deepening its ties with the EU, the prime minister added.