picture of Orbán and Erdogan

“Europe needs allies against migration that will allow it to extend its ring of defense as wide as possible,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Ankara. “Otherwise, Europe will collapse, and Turkey has a role to play in such a defense ring.”

The Prime Minister then spoke about his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the 5th meeting of the Hungarian-Turkish High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, which was established in 2013.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Orbán said that Hungary was asking for more and direct financial aid from Brussels for Ankara in the fight against migration, and that the EU should also provide aid to construct walls on Turkey’s southern and eastern borders and to help stabilize northern Syria. He said Europe was threatened by migration from three directions: the Mediterranean, the Western Balkans, and Belarus.

Orbán also announced that Turkey would be sending 50 border guards to Hungary to help protect the Hungarian border.

From a geopolitical point of view, it is important for Budapest to cultivate a friendly, strategic alliance with Berlin and Moscow, he said. In addition to migration, he believes Europe is facing three other major crises: a health crisis, an economic crisis and an energy crisis.

Orbán said that bilateral trade relations between Hungary and Turkey during the pandemic not only didn’t decline, but grew by more than 30%, approaching $4 billion. He also recalled that at the beginning of the crisis, Ankara supplied raw materials to Hungary when the most basic means of protection, such as masks, were not available, thereby promoting domestic prodution efforts.

Regarding the economic crisis, the Hungarian government has decided to address it with investments that require foreign investors. Orbán considers it a huge success that one of the world’s largest packaging companies is constructing a 70 billion Ft. (US $218 million) factory to be built near Kaposvár, representing the largest-ever Hungarian-Turkish investment.

The Prime Minister also said that the two countries would continue to cooperate in the area of nuclear energy through scientific, research, and training partnerships. In addition, Hungary has increased the number of scholarships available to Turkish students from 150 to 200, with a portion of these places to be set aside specifically for students pursuing nuclear studies, he said.

Following the discussions, members of the Hungarian government signed agreements on nine areas of cooperation, among them in the military, scientific, industrial, cultural, technological, tourism, sports and youth fields.

On Friday, Viktor Orbán will hold discussions in Istanbul with partners at the summit of the Council of Turkish-Speaking States.

[444, via MTI][Photo: Viktor Orbán / Facebook]

By Steven N.

Steven is the editor-in-chief of Hungarian Politics. He has been following the political scene in Hungary and the Central European region more or less since 1994.