In Budapest on Wednesday, after a meeting between the Israeli prime minister and the prime ministers of the countries of the Visegrád Four (V4), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that, at the initiative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the V4 countries, a joint task force will be set up to further the fight against terrorism.
The Hungarian prime minister also said that they will elaborate the details for establishment of a joint task force to promote technological cooperation.
Mr. Orbán told the press that the Israeli prime minister had invited the V4 prime ministers to Israel, and that they had accepted his invitation. He urged that relations between Israel and the European Union should be characterised by rationality, and that criticism of Israel should be replaced by an opening of the gates to cooperation.
He stressed that the Visegrád countries will urge the EU to appreciate the efforts made by Israel in the interest of its region’s stability, as these efforts are also in Europe’s best interests, given that they protect the continent against ever more migrant invasions.
The Hungarian prime minister stated that the Visegrád countries share Israel’s standpoint that defence of external borders is crucial for every nation. He added that the free flow of people without any checks or controls heightens the risk of terrorism.
Mr. Orbán also said that in a separate meeting the V4 had decided to send a letter to the Prime Minister of Italy.
They also agreed that one of the EU agencies due to move out of London should be relocated to one of the Visegrád countries. The prime ministers of the V4 gave the Hungarian prime minister a mandate for negotiations to be conducted with France on the Posted Workers Directive.
Concluding the press conference following the first meeting between Visegrád prime ministers and an Israeli prime minister, Mr. Orbán stated that if the European Union fails to cooperate with Israel it will be punishing itself, and therefore relations should be directed towards calm rationality.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that cooperation with Israel in combatting terrorism and promoting innovation serves the best interests of Europe and the Visegrád countries. The first area is a battle against the forces of the past, while the second is about guaranteeing a better and more prosperous future, he said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed appreciation for the position of the V4 countries in relation to Israel. He observed that Israel receives very frequent criticism from Europe, despite the fact that it is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country in the region where Christians are safe, and where their communities are not only surviving, but are growing. Israel is a bastion of European and Western values in the region, he stated.
He said that it is time to redefine relations between Israel and the European Union.
Mr. Netanyahu said that it is both a great honour for him to be the first Israeli prime minister to attend a V4 summit, and also a great opportunity. He confirmed that he had invited his counterparts to his country, so that the next such summit can be held in Israel.
Slovak prime minister Robert Fico announced that he has received authorisation from the Visegrád countries to conduct talks next Thursday with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, on the double standards in the area of food quality in the EU. Mr. Fico stated that the citizens of the V4 countries feel they are being treated like second-class EU citizens because of these double standards. The situation is seen as an insult, and all this contributes to a lack of trust.
He expressed the hope that the EU will pass legislation to remedy this situation.
Mr. Fico also stressed that the leaders’ meeting had not only been important because of its content, but also its symbolism, as in Europe “we often talk about each other”, but not often enough with each other.
On the subject of food quality, the Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the V4 would like to change the relevant regulations at European level. He expressed opposition to suppliers using different quality standards for their products depending on the Member State in question, and welcomed the consensus on this issue among his fellow prime ministers. He noted that they wish to resolve the problem in a way that does not create obstacles to the functioning of the single market.
The Czech prime minister also highlighted that the EU and Israel have a shared interest in strengthening relations and removing the obstacles to their cooperation with each other.
Mr. Sobotka stressed the importance of talks on the situation in Syria and the fight against terrorism and illegal migration, and he welcomed the Israeli prime minister’s proposals, the implementation of which is supported by the V4. He stated that there are further cooperation opportunities in the fields of cyber security and water management.
Polish prime minister Beata Szydło noted that, in addition to food safety, another important topic is that of posted workers, on which the V4 will engage in joint negotiations. She also mentioned that the parties drafted a joint letter to the Italian prime minister, expressing support for him in connection with the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean region.
She noted the unprecedented nature of the V4 meeting with the Israeli prime minister, in which the parties spoke about security, the migrant crisis, the fight against terrorism and development. Cooperation with Israel must be enhanced, Mrs. Szydło added.
The following documents were adopted at the meeting: