Hungarian President Katalin Novák paid a friendly visit to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Wednesday, February 1st. The meeting was an opportunity for the two leaders to reaffirm their common views on a range of national and European policies, such as immigration control and family policy.

The two women showcased their political friendship during their meeting in Rome. Novák considers Meloni a friend “for years.” In an interview with Il Corriere della Sera, the Hungarian president spoke highly of the Italian prime minister: “I know her as a strong person of conservative values, open to the world, family-oriented, who would give her life for her country. A person of her word and reliable.” 

The issue of immigration management at the European level was at the heart of the discussions and was the subject of a statement from the Hungarian Presidency. “Illegal immigration is not an option,” tweeted the Hungarian president. The Italian prime minister insisted on the need to completely stop immigration at the EU’s external borders—she intends to bring this issue up for debate during the Swedish Presidency of the EU, January 1st-June 30th, 2023. 

Family policy was also discussed by Novák and Meloni. Both emphasise in their political vision the importance of the traditional family and the need to support young couples who want to start a family. This is an important issue for Meloni, who would like to draw inspiration from the policies currently in place in Hungary to revitalise an Italian family policy that is currently almost non-existent.

Novák and Meloni also discussed the thorny and painful issue—especially for Hungary—of European funding. The two leaders stressed the need to obtain more flexibility from Brussels regarding the use of funds, so that EU requirements do not excessively hamper the needs and interests of recipient states. 

Finally, the two leaders shared their common vision on the question of the enlargement of the Union towards the countries of the Western Balkans: they both want this enlargement to take place as soon as possible, for the dual benefit of the candidate countries and the Union as a whole. Hungary and Italy see these countries as natural partners and obvious strategic allies, both for historical and geographical reasons.

In the same interview with Corriere della Sera, Novák was keen to defend Hungary’s position on the war in Ukraine to Italian opinion, opposing both sanctions and the sending of arms to the Kyiv regime: 

For me, the question is how we can stop Russian aggression while avoiding a Third World War. The aim of the people is to live in peace. As a member of the Nation and of the European Union, Hungary is committed to its allies.

Katalin Novák also took advantage of her trip to meet the president of the Italian republic Sergio Mattarella and the president of the national assembly Lorenzo Fontana.