In a speech Sarkozy said “there are so many bonds connecting France and Hungary and we cannot forget that this relationship also lived through painful mo-ments, particularly the 1920 Trianon treaty, which inflicted lasting wounds.”
France is the fourth or fifth largest inves-tor in Hungary with investments concentrated in the energy and food industries, wholesale trade, the pharmaceutical industry and water-management environmental protection.
Sarkozy began his visit by calling on President László Sólyom, after which he said “Europe needs Hungary,” and paid tribute to the courage displayed by the Hungarian peo-ple, particularly their heroism during the 1956 Revolution. Sarkozy said he believes that “Hungary has always played a key role amongst East European countries,” adding that “France wants to be present in Hungary.” He claimed that “there are no large or small countries among the EU states, only equal members.”
Sarkozy agreed with Sólyom that the identity of ethnic Hungarians abroad should be preserved but also made it clear that while France supports individual and cultural rights, it holds a more reserved stance on collective rights and regional autonomy. He then pro-posed that the two countries continue to dis-cuss this subject, possibly even at a seminar. He said Hungary has “paid bitterly” for the mistakes committed by several political lead-ers and that he understands the emotional bond between the ten million Hungarians and the five million ethnic Hungarians living in foreign countries. Sólyom said he had invited Sarkozy to the scientific conference World Science Forum that will be staged in Buda-pest on November 8.
Sarkozy later met Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, with both leaders stressing the need for reforms in Europe. Sarkozy said “Europe needs people who can get things moving, as inertia makes the continent weak.” The pair agreed to write a letter to their respective party representatives in the European Parliament to back a plan for a “council of elders” to debate the EU’s future.
Gyurcsány stood up for the planned Nabucco gas pipeline and for the diversifica-tion of gas procurement, and both leaders supported a common European energy policy and the Nabucco plan. Sarkozy then visited the Hungarian royal crown on display in Parliament with Speaker Katalin Szili.
Sarkozy later met briefly with Fidesz chairman Viktor Orbán, who told reporters afterwards that they had agreed on the need for changes in Europe,” although Orbán stressed that improvement in competitive-ness must not be an end in itself, but a proc-ess in the interest of the happiness of Euro-pean peoples.” Orbán described Sarkozy as “a politician removing neoliberal economic policy taboos,” and added that he had ac-cepted Sarkozy’s invitation to attend the con-vention of France’s right-of-centre governing party the Union for the People’s Movement, in early October.
Sarkozy also laid a wreath at the 1956 monument at the University of Technology and visited the construction site for metro line number four with mayor Gábor Demszky.