Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (r) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Photo: PMO

Orbán: Turks, Hungarians ‘to be winners together in 21st century’

The "grand plan" is for Turks and Hungarians to be "winners together in the 21st century", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after signing a bilateral priority strategic partnership agreement with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.

Orbán told a press conference after the agreement was signed that “in the language of diplomacy, this expresses the strongest possible friendly, brotherly and political cooperation”.

The prime minister said that although Hungarians had “lost the previous century”, the plan now was to “win the 21st century”, for which Hungary was seeking allies.

“That is what this priority strategic status is about,” he said, adding that Hungary and Turkiye wanted to work as closely together as the two peoples and countries possibly could.

Orbán said this was “a serious commitment” made in the hope that what had been laid out in the Turkish president’s programme, “namely that the next one hundred years will belong to Turkiye”, would come true.

He said Hungary would do everything it could during its presidency of the Council of the European Union next year to revamp the customs union between the EU and Turkiye as well as supporting Turkiye on the issue of visa liberalisation.

Turning to bilateral economic ties, Orbán said Hungary and Turkiye doubled their bilateral trade turnover in the space of just over ten years. He noted that 500 Turkish businesses are present in Hungary, while 100 Hungarian firms are active in Turkiye. Turkish investments in Hungary are growing in both number and value, he said. Since these investments have expanded to new sectors, he added, Hungary and Turkiye also signed agreements on railway developments and the defence industry.

Orbán emphasised Turkiye’s role in Hungary’s general security and energy security, saying Hungary would be unable to keep migration at bay without Turkiye.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, the prime minister said Turkiye had been the only country to achieve any results in connection with peace and grain shipments. Turkiye, he noted, had also just taken command of the KFOR mission in Kosovo, where 465 Hungarian troops are stationed.

As regards energy security, Orbán said he and Erdogan agreed on Hungary purchasing natural gas directly from Turkiye in addition to receiving gas delivered through the country.

Hungary and Turkiye are also developing ties between their universities, Orbán said, noting that Hungary has offered 200 scholarships to Turkish university students. Next year, he added, will be dedicated to the joint Hungarian-Turkish cultural season to mark the centenary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties. Orbán added that 2025 will be declared the year of cooperation in Hungarian science and innovation.

The short-term bilateral programme “is specific”, while the medium-term programmes “are appealing”, the prime minister said, adding that when it came to strategic and historic issues, the two countries had the same goals and intent. Hungary and Turkiye were elevating bilateral ties to an all-time high, he said.

Erdogan praised Turkiye and Hungary’s long-standing friendly ties, saying both countries were willing to expand bilateral relations.

He highlighted the “very strong” historical and cultural links between the two countries, expressing his appreciation for Hungary’s presence in the Organization of Turkic States as an observer.

Turkiye and Hungary, he said, aimed to stimulate investments in each other’s countries along with joint investments in third countries, and sought to further deepen their cooperation in the defence and energy industries.

Erdogan expressed his country’s support for Hungary’s successful EU presidency in the second half of 2024.

Meanwhile, the Turkish president said violence did not yield solutions, noting that Turkiye was focused on a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine, and he urged a ceasefire in Gaza.

Erdogan, who is visiting Hungary to attend a meeting of the Hungarian-Turkish High-level Strategic Cooperation Council, signed a joint political declaration with Orbán on the two countries’ priority strategic partnership.

Also, Hungarian and Turkish ministers signed cooperation agreements on social services, the Hungarian-Turkish year of innovation, research and development, defence and foreign affairs, nuclear energy, civilian state of emergency as well as audiovisual political and government communication, among other areas.

Hungary and Turkiye are launching a year-long Hungarian-Turkish cultural season on Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkiye as well as their diplomatic relations.

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