China and the US may benefit from the war in Ukraine dragging out but Europe certainly will not gain anything from it, Balázs Orbán, the political director of the Prime Minister’s Office, said on Monday in Bratislava at a roundtable of Visegrad Group country representatives.
A combination of inflation, the energy crisis and unemployment could send central Europe into a spiral of economic decline, Orban said at the conference organised by the Ladislav Hanus Society.
Hungary’s standpoint is to focus on pushing in the direction of peace and securing a ceasefire as swiftly as possible, he said, adding that other governments may emphasise other factors for the time being, but working towards the strategic necessity of a ceasefire would not shred Visegrad cooperation but strengthen it.
Central Europe’s success hinges on its economic achievements, he said, arguing that the region is taken seriously due to its economic performance.
Military defence on the V4’s eastern flank is also of prime importance, he said, so all four countries must strengthen their military capabilities.
Meanwhile, Orbán said Hungary was seeking to attract manufacturing and research and development capacities to the country with a view to closing the gap between western and central Europe within the next 10 years. Energy-intensive sectors would be key to achieving this goal, so without cheap energy, the region would lag behind when it came to competition in technological sectors.
He said central Europe had the wherewithal to catch up with the West and leave southern Europe behind, but this aim was compromised by current events.
Countries should not shift from one energy dependency to another, but look to new vistas for obtaining cheap energy, even during the transition period to green alternatives, he added.
Orbán argued that if Europe gradually declined on the world stage, “the Brussels bureaucracy” could opt to intensify centralisation efforts. “Central Europe must be in a position to oppose such efforts that are against its own interests,” he added.