Prime minister Viktor Orbán – Photo: PMO

Szijjarto: Turkic Council cooperation based on mutual respect

Orbán: Hungary initiates Budapest summit of Turkic Council, V4 in 2022

Hungary is initiating a high level summit of the leaders of the Turkic Council and the Visegrad Group (V4) in Budapest in the first half of 2022, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the summit of the Turkic Council in Istanbul on Friday. Addressing the summit, Orbán noted that Hungary is holding the presidency of the Visegrad Group it forms with the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia until July 1 next year.

The prime minister also touched on the shared historical and cultural heritage of the Hungarian and Turkic peoples, saying Hungarians were proud of that heritage.

As regards Hungary’s previous commitments to the Turkic Council, Orbán said Hungary had elevated its ties with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to a strategic partnership and had opened an embassy in Bishkek.

Concerning education ties, he said Hungary has increased the number of scholarships it offers to university students from the Turkic countries to 870. “The scheme is a success, with more than 5,000 applications submitted for this academic year,” he said.

Turning to economic relations, Orbán said Hungary’s Eximbank has opened a 545 million dollar credit line to help finance business cooperation and Hungary and Kyrgyzstan last week launched a 16 million dollar joint development fund.

Orbán said the Hungarian government supported the establishment of a Turkic investment fund and asked the council to enable Hungary to join it once it is set up. Hungary is prepared to contribute to the fund’s capital, he added.

As regards the situation in Afghanistan, Orbán said Europe was facing an “unprecedented challenge” when it came to migration and for the first time was under pressure from three directions. Stopping the emergence of new migration waves from Afghanistan, he added, was a fundamental security interest for Hungary. The prime minister assured the Turkic Council that he would not approve any European Union decision that ignores the security interests of the Turkic countries.

On the sidelines of the summit, Orbán held bilateral talks with Sadyr Japarov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the president of Kazakhstan.

Leading a high-level delegation, Orbán is on a two-day visit to Turkey. On Thursday, he took part in the 5th meeting of the Hungarian-Turkish high-level strategic cooperation council in Ankara.

The Turkic Council is an intergovernmental organisation established in 2009 to promote comprehensive cooperation among Turkic speaking states. Its members are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey. Hungary has had observer status in the organisation since 2018.

Szijjarto: Turkic Council cooperation based on mutual respect

Cooperation among the members of the Turkic Council is based on mutual respect rather than countries lecturing each other, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Istanbul on Friday. This approach is becoming increasingly rare in global politics, even though it could be helpful in managing even the biggest challenges, the minister said after a summit of Turkic Council members.

“Global politics is riddled with conflicts and attacks at a time when the coronavirus pandemic could have brought about a return of the culture of mutual respect in international political relations, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Szijjarto said.

He said the Turkic Council was an excellent example of how geographically distant countries can interact with each other when their cooperation is based on mutual respect.

Szijjarto noted that the Turkic countries had sent medical equipment, face masks and the material used to manufacture them and disinfectants to Hungary during the first wave of the pandemic. “And when we were the ones who were in a position to help, we supported the countries of the Turkic Council by repatriating their citizens and sending them ventilators,” he said. The minister also noted that Hungary had signed agreements with Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan on the mutual recognition of each other’s Covid vaccination certificates.

“This is what what we should be seeing in the world now that we’re in the fourth wave,” he said. “We should be recognising how dependent we are on each other.”

Meanwhile, he said Europe had never before faced such a complex set of challenges when it came to the issue of migration. “In fact, the situation is expected to get worse, now that 30,000-35,000 people are fleeing Afghanistan on a daily basis,” the minister said, adding that this figure was expected to rise.

Hungary and Europe’s interests lie in stopping the illegal migration waves as far away from the continent as possible, and this requires the help of the countries in the region and those countries situated along potential migration routes, Szijjarto said. The latter group, he said, therefore shouldn’t be encouraged to open their borders but should be supported in protecting them.

Forcing the countries of the region to take in Afghan migrants would have seen a repeat of the mistakes made during the 2015 migration crisis, Szijjarto said, adding that these countries had to have a say in the decisions that impacted them.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto emphasised the importance of cooperation with the Turkic countries in terms of the diversification of Europe’s energy supply, but said it was vital for that cooperation to be based on mutual respect “instead of constant lecturing”.

Azerbaijan has significant gas resources which could open up a new energy source for Europe if the capacities of the existing pipelines are increased, Szijjarto said, noting that Turkmenistan also had significant gas resources.

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