Estonian, Hungarian prime ministers discuss Estonian presidency priorities

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Monday, May 22, 2017.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Monday, May 22, 2017. Source: (Ave Tampere/Government Office)

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest on Monday to discuss the priorities of the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU, Hungary's views on issues important to the EU, bilateral relations as well as the future of the EU.

“Cooperation in Finno-Ugric languages and culture play an important part in the relations between Estonia and Hungary," said Ratas, noting that economic cooperation also continues to grow year by year. "We appreciate Hungary's contribution to regional security. This summer, a Hungarian company will be deployed to Estonia under NATO's assurance measures."

Speaking about the priorities of Estonia's upcoming EU presidency, Ratas said that Estonia's main priority was to ensure that Europe continues to stand united and determined.

"The EU was founded on four fundamental freedoms and a common understanding of peace and prosperity," he stressed. "With this in mind, the Estonian presidency is committed to working with the issues that help to create and promote a European Union with an open and innovative economy, maintain security in Europe, promote and develop a digital Europe — including the free movement of data — and ensure inclusive and sustainable action by the EU."

According to the Estonian prime minister, the guiding principle of the Estonian preidency will be to achieve unity through balance. "What Europe needs most at this time is unity in words and actions, values and ideas," he said, noting that it would be necessary to strike a balance between openness and privacy, new and well-established solutions and individual and common interests as well as create a peaceful and free future for Europe and all Europeans. "The Estonian Europe is open, democratic, positive and united," he said.

Ratas also called for cooperation between EU institutions and Hungary and expressed hope that the Central European University can continue its academic activity in Budapest.

The head of government of the incoming EU presidency typically visits a number of member states beforehand in order to present and promote the priorities and program of their country's presidency and discuss opportunities for closer cooperation. On this trip, Ratas has visited Slovakia and Hungary and will visit the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Romania.

Ratas is scheduled to return to Estonia on Wednesday afternoon.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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