On October 10, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán began his official visit to Georgia. On October 11 he held a face-to-face meeting with the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. During his visit, a meeting of the Georgian-Hungarian intergovernmental commission was held followed by a memorandum signing ceremony. The Prime Ministers of Georgia and Hungary made joint statements to the media.
Viktor Orbán held only one official meeting during his three-day visit and did not meet with either opposition or civil society organizations.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili held a one-on-one meeting with his Hungarian counterpart on October 11. During the meeting, the parties discussed the “close partnership” between Georgia and Hungary. Garibashvili stressed that their joint efforts have opened a new phase of cooperation, according to the Georgian government’s press release.
The release states that the two parties explored ways of deepening their cooperation in various fields. The Prime Minister emphasized that the forthcoming intergovernmental meeting is a practical manifestation of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed by the two nations in Budapest.
Turning to the issue of European integration, Irakli Garibashvili reiterated Georgia’s unwavering commitment to the European path and highlighted the “significant progress” made by the Georgian government in this direction. The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for Viktor Orbán’s “unwavering support” for Georgia’s European integration and recognized Hungary as a “valued friend” in this journey.
They also discussed the progress achieved in strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. Garibashvili reiterated the considerable economic potential shared by Georgia and Hungary and stressed the importance of taking full advantage of these opportunities. He highlighted Georgia’s keen interest in attracting investment in sectors such as renewable energy, logistics, tourism and various other areas.
Furthermore, Irakli Garibashvili and Viktor Orbán talked about the developments of the Black Sea strategic submarine electricity cable project, which aims to connect the Caucasus region with Europe. The Georgian Prime Minister stressed: “The implementation of the flagship projects initiated by Georgia is essential for realizing the full potential of energy and achieving common goals in the direction of energy security”.
Joint press conference
On October 12, the Prime Ministers of Georgia and Hungary jointly addressed the media in Telavi. The press conference took place following the first inter-governmental meeting between the two states (however, no information about the meeting was released).
Georgia’s Prime Minister began his remarks by emphasizing the shared commitment of Georgia and Hungary to “traditional and enduring values”. He stated: “This commitment encompasses loyalty to our nations, our homeland, and our core beliefs, including religion, the sanctity of the family, respect for our traditions. I cannot overstate the merits of Mr. Viktor Orbán in safeguarding, strengthening, and upholding these authentic values and traditions. I stated this in Hungary, and I reiterate it here – the Hungarian people are fortunate to have such a steadfast and patriotic leader who fiercely protects his country’s interests and serves his people’s welfare.”
Commenting on Georgia’s European integration process, Garibashvili said: “Last year we were given a European perspective. Unfortunately, we have to admit that our country was treated unfairly during this period. Mr. Viktor described this process in Budapest as immoral and unfair”. He added that the Georgian government is “doing its best” to implement the 12 recommendations given by the European Commission, and that Georgia should receive candidate status because it is the choice of Georgian citizens. “Otherwise, it will be simply incomprehensible, the decision of Europe will be devoid of any argumentation, rationality. Georgians, as I said before, despise the most and cannot tolerate injustice and oppression”.
Garibashvili also spoke of King Erekle the Second, referring to him as a “great strategist” with a primary goal of connecting Georgia to Europe. He lamented that during that era, European leaders showed little interest in Georgia. However, he asserted, “Today, we can proudly declare that we enjoy strong support from real European leaders, such as Mr. Viktor Orbán.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, for his part, noted Georgia’s “remarkable development” and “its unwavering commitment to preserving its Christian heritage.” “We highly appreciate the struggle you have been waging for several hundred years to preserve the Christian state. We know from our Hungarian history what kind of struggle it is, how the countries that did not give up their faith fought,” – he said.
Orbán highlighted the discussions held during the meetings with his Georgian counterpart on cooperation and global security in the current challenging global security landscape. He also expressed his disappointment that Georgia has not yet been granted EU candidate status given its “substantial economic development” and the “strategic importance” of Europe’s connection to the Caucasus region.
The Hungarian Prime Minister stated: “We in the EU have to decide whether we see enlargement as a political process or whether what we say is true, that it is a merit-based process. If it is a merit-based process, then what has happened is quite unfair to your country and should be corrected as soon as possible”.
Recalling the EU’s previous enlargements, he stressed the importance of welcoming to EU ambitious, hardworking states to maintain the EU’s competitiveness, and concluded that Georgia deserved candidate status in this context. He also noted the importance of preserving Christian traditions in Europe, stating: “I believe that our Christian traditions are of the highest value, which is a very good foundation on which to build, and any attempt not to use this foundation is doomed to failure.”
At the end of his remarks, Orbán announced initiatives for further cooperation between the two countries: “We have very serious ideas of economic cooperation in agriculture, in water management, in pharmaceuticals, in the tax industry. We have flagship initiatives with Hungarian companies, aviation companies that are market leaders, service providers in your country… We will provide 80 scholarships for Georgian students to study in Budapest, Hungary. It is a great honor for us to receive them, but this is an investment in Georgia and they will be real, true ambassadors of the friendship of two countries, two peoples”.