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Press statement by Viktor Orbán following his talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to publicly welcome the President of Turkey, who has honoured us with his visit to Budapest. This visit is not only important to us because of the alliance that exists between the two countries through our joint membership of NATO – although without doubt our status as NATO allies is the most important fact. It is also important because traditionally Hungarian foreign policy has a certain system of coordinates within which it orients itself. Hungarian foreign policy must at all times pay particular attention to three capital cities: Istanbul – which today has been replaced by Ankara; Moscow; and Berlin. These represent the three great powers and large countries within whose sphere of influence Hungary has lived its life for many hundreds of years. It is therefore important for us that Hungary’s relations with Ankara, with Turkey, should always be balanced, well-ordered and positive. We hold regular annual meetings with all our priority partners – including Turkey – during which we review the state of relations between our countries. Relations between our two countries are based on respect; but for us there is something even more than this – as the security of Hungary is directly related to the stability of Turkey. A stable Turkish government and a stable Turkey are essential for ensuring that Hungary faces no threats of any kind on the land route for migration. We would like to clearly state that one of Hungary’s strongest national interests is for Turkey to always be stable and strong enough to be able to create peace in the region, and to hold back the illegal migration that would flow from that region towards Europe. We also express our recognition of Turkey’s role as a host country in admitting and providing for millions of people fleeing towards it from neighbouring countries. On Hungary’s behalf I therefore also thanked President Erdoğan for the fact that Turkey has fully honoured the agreement concluded with the European Union, which is also a precondition for security in Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tomorrow we will have the opportunity to talk about Turkish-Hungarian cultural relations in a suitable venue, and we will also hold a business forum. Therefore, if you will allow me, in relation to the most important points in our talks I would like to focus on political cooperation. We specifically addressed the fight against terrorism, which is important for both countries. Turkey is situated in a more difficult region than Hungary, and over there the threat of terrorism is greater. Therefore Turkey also has an interest in Hungary cooperating with it in the fight against terrorism. Today we spoke at length about the details of this cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We also spoke about the issue of military cooperation, as we are NATO allies. Up until now the level of military cooperation between the two countries has been low. We shall change this now, and we intend to develop close cooperation in the arms industry. I have told our Turkish guests – Hungarians know this – that the economic difficulties of the past years and decades have meant that there was neither the residual strength nor financial resources for development of the Hungarian army. We shall now make up for this shortcoming, and it is Hungary’s goal to build up a modern, combat-ready national army. In this we are counting on cooperation with Turkey – including military, specialist and arms cooperation. Today we also discussed the details of this at length. In today’s talks the issue of economic cooperation formed a separate chapter. For the benefit of Hungarians in the audience – because the Turks already know it – I will stress that the Turkish economy is one of the largest in the world. Not only does Turkey have an enormous population, but it also has enormous economic strength and economic potential. We are familiar with President Erdoğan’s goals, which he summed up by saying that he would like to steer Turkey towards becoming one of the world’s ten largest economies. This is an intention and a fact that Hungarian economic policy cannot ignore, and we would like to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in it. Mr. President, as far as I remember, here in Budapest in 2012 or 2013 we made a public undertaking to increase the volume of trade between our two countries to five billion dollars. We have increased it, but we have not yet reached the five billion mark; so we cannot be satisfied. Nevertheless, the figures for 2017 are more than convincing, as in 2017 we reached a trade record with a volume of three billion dollars; and I have been able to inform the President that in the first half of 2018 there was another 19 per cent increase. So our target of five billion no longer seems unrealistic in the least. I also informed the President that Eximbank has opened a credit line worth 420 million dollars for the purposes of Hungarian-Turkish cooperation. We spoke about Turkish investments in Hungary, and I asked the President to support and encourage Turkish investors. We also spoke about the opportunities for the Hungarian economy in Turkey: at today’s talks I primarily sought to open the door for agriculture and Hungarian water technology activities and companies, which are widely known to be world-class.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We had a successful meeting today. The starting point was not bad, as – whichever way we look at them – Turkish-Hungarian relations are successful. But our plan has been to make them outstandingly successful, and to create the economic conditions for this. As I see it, the agreements we made today and the congruent aims that we have clarified will enable Hungary to take part in the growth shown by the Turkish economy. Hungary will also benefit from capital investments from Turkey. In strategic sectors, such as energy and the arms industry, we will be able to forge cooperation projects which have so far not been part of relations between the two countries. I thank the President for a sincere, open and friendly meeting, which were all qualities which I sought to reciprocate. After these talks I can say that I look forward to future Turkish-Hungarian relations with the highest hopes.

Thank you for your attention.