Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following his meeting with President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

18 December 2023, Budapest

I cordially welcome you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Honourable President, Dear Turkish Friends,

Mr. President, when I was at the beginning of my career, I thought it was just playing with words to call a relationship friendly, then strategic, and then highly strategic. But then I learned that these words have meaning, because they really do describe different qualities of relationships. And today our two nations have established a relationship of highly strategic cooperation. I do not know if there is a higher level than this. I think that, in the language of diplomacy, this expresses the closest amicable, fraternal and political cooperation. And within this is the intention of the two peoples, which is that in the future we want to cooperate as closely as two peoples and two countries can cooperate.

This is a serious commitment, which we are making in the hope that everything we have read in your programme will become a reality. The last time you entered the fray in a presidential contest, you also published an ambitious programme for Türkiye’s next hundred years, which I could modestly summarise as stating that the next hundred years will be yours. We believed this, and therefore we have now concluded this agreement. Because the fact is that we Hungarians lost the last century. No one in Europe lost the previous century to the extent that we Hungarians did. And our plan, Mr. President, is not to lose the 21st century, but to win it. And to do this, we are looking for allies with whom we can win it together. And this is what this highly strategic status is all about. The grand plan is that in the 21st century the Turks and the Hungarians will be winners together.

As for the specifics, Honourable President, this is the twenty-first time I have met formally with Your Excellency. In the last ten or more years we have doubled the volume of our trade in goods. Five hundred Turkish companies operate in Hungary, and one hundred Hungarian companies operate in Türkiye. Turkish investments in Hungary are growing steadily, both in number and in value; and today we have expanded their operation into new areas, and have signed very important railway and military agreements. Türkiye is important for Hungary. Hungary is not safe without Türkiye. We cannot curb the migration threat to Hungary without Türkiye. In the Ukrainian-Russian war, the only country that has so far been able to achieve results in terms of peace-building and agreement has been Türkiye – in the grain issue. And Türkiye has just taken over command of the KFOR forces [in Kosovo], within which we have 465 soldiers. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is almost impossible to provide security for Hungary without Türkiye. This is also true for energy security. So far, Türkiye has helped us to implement natural gas transit, and now we have also agreed not only to transport gas through Türkiye, but also to buy it from Türkiye. This year our trade turnover will exceed 4 billion dollars, and we have set a target of 6 billion dollars. We still have a lot of work to do.

There are things that we want to help Türkiye with. There is a customs union between the European Union and Türkiye, which was established back in 1995. Since then the economy has changed, with different products and services, and this agreement needs to be modernised. During the Hungarian presidency of the EU we shall do everything we can to make this happen. We shall also support Türkiye in the area of visa liberalisation. We have given everything that is within our national competence to give. We are also developing cooperation between our universities. We are giving two hundred Hungarian state scholarships to Turkish students. And after one hundred years of diplomatic relations, we will dedicate the coming year to the cultural year; and we have just agreed that we will declare 2025 to be the year of Turkish-Hungarian cooperation in science and innovation.

Honourable President Erdoğan,

The short-term programme is concrete, the medium-term programmes are attractive, and on strategic issues and on the historical scale there is a convergence of goals and intentions between our two countries. All the conditions are in place to raise relations between our two countries to a level that has never been reached before. We are very grateful that Türkiye, which is growing and developing at a pace that has won world recognition, has chosen Hungary as a strategic partner.

On behalf of Hungary, I wish every success to both you, Mr. President, and the people of Türkiye.