Budapest, April 19 (MTI) – Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday met former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in his home in Oggersheim for informal talks.
“Europe cannot become the new home for millions of people in need around the world,” Orbán and Kohl said in a joint press statement issued after their talks, adding that there is no disagreement on this point with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Asked to comment on the Orbán-Kohl meeting, Merkel told a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday that she found their meeting “useful and valuable”.
Speaking to reporters, Orbán called Kohl a “symbol” of German-Hungarian friendship, which have deep emotional roots. The prime minister said he met with Kohl to convey Hungarians’ appreciation and gratitude for all that Kohl had done for Hungary.
“Helmut Kohl is highly valuable to all of Europe,” Orbán said, adding that Kohl should not be “dragged” into current politics. “[The meeting] was an honour and an uplifting experience for me. Long live German-Hungarian friendship!” Orbán said.
A statement released jointly by the Hungarian embassy in Berlin and Kohl’s office said the migrant crisis is an “existential” and “historic” challenge for both Europe and the millions of people in need throughout the world. But Europe can only take in a small minority of the people who seek refuge here, the statement added. Instead, Europe must provide help to the world’s crisis-hit regions so that more and more people can achieve a better standard of living in their home countries, it said, adding that Kohl and Orbán fully agreed with Merkel on the goals in this matter.
Orbán and Kohl said in light of recent press reports they must make it abundantly clear that constructing political divisions will not help handle the wave of migration and the millions affected, the statement added.
Orbán presented to Kohl a copy of his 2014 book, ‘Out of Concern for Europe’, in Hungarian translation. The book will be published with a foreword by Kohl and a preface by Orbán at the Hungarian Book Fair later this week.
Orbán and Kohl discussed European issues at their talks and agreed that the continent was in one of its worst periods since 1945, the statement said. They agreed that the fate of European peoples depended on a political unity within Europe. “There is no alternative to a politically united Europe if peace and freedom should be kept in Europe and if Europe wants to take on responsibilities in the world,” the statement added.
About 30 people demonstrated outside Kohl’s home against Orbán’s visit, while a few supporters of the German Alternative for Germany (AfD) party expressed support for Orbán, according to press reports.
Orbán told the online edition of German daily Bild in an interview on Tuesday that Hungary stands by Berlin and will continue to support Merkel in confronting Europe’s current challenges. He said Hungary’s new “Schengen 2.0” plan aimed at protecting the European Union’s external borders and is one of the initiatives with which the country supports Germany. Orbán told the paper that it was a great pleasure for him to meet Kohl again, noting the strong friendship between himself and the former chancellor.