Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Excellency, Dear Friends from Turkey,
With the agreement of His Excellency the President, for the benefit of members of the press I’d like to describe the framework for our cooperation. In Ankara In 2013 His Excellency the President and I signed an agreement on creation of a strategic council at the highest level to coordinate Turkish-Hungarian cooperation. And there we agreed that this body would meet once a year under the leadership of the two countries’ leaders. The 2019 meeting in this series has taken place today in Hungary.
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
The geographical region within which Hungary is situated is defined by the relative locations of three major capital cities: Istanbul, or Ankara, Moscow and Berlin. The President of the Russian Federation was here a few days ago, one or two days ago the German foreign minister was here, and today we are welcoming the President of Turkey. This is precisely the kind of foreign policy that we would like to continue in the future, and we are striving for close cooperation with countries that are important for Hungary.
As regards Turkish-Hungarian relations, Your Excellency, the starting-point for Hungarian thinking on foreign policy is the statement that without Turkey it will be impossible to halt migration heading in the direction of Europe. From this it follows that Turkey is a strategic partner for Hungary in terms of both security issues and the issue of migration. In line with this, in our meeting today we conducted an overview of questions which are linked to security and migration. We expressed our recognition to Turkey of the fact that this year alone, up until the middle of October, it has detained some 350,000 people for illegally crossing its border. If it had not done this, all these people would be somewhere in the vicinity of Hungary’s southern border. Both our countries are members of NATO, and so we are military allies – indeed Turkey has NATO’s second largest army. We can see from this that Turkey and Hungary are in different leagues. But as Turkey is a military ally, we strive for cooperation with it in military policy and the defence industry. And we can confirm that defence industry cooperation between our two countries has commenced, and is making good progress. I’d also like to inform you that, on the basis of previous agreements, Turkey and Hungary have joint programmes – or projects as it is customary to call them – in Africa. In Hungary so far we’ve never spoken about these in public. I’d like to confirm that we have a joint financing programme in Africa, in Kenya to be precise, where we are sending a medical mission. Another cooperation programme is about to be launched in the twin areas of water management and health care assistance for Ghana.
In relation to trade and economic cooperation, in 2013 or 2014 President Erdoğan said that we could not be satisfied with the low level of trade between our two countries. And he decided, and we accepted, that we should increase the trade volume between our two countries to five billion euros. Later, as we grew more enthusiastic, we increased this target to six billion. And so this target currently stands at six billion euros. And we must confirm that our determination is great and our optimism is undimmed, but this target is still only visible on the horizon. Bearing in mind that the two statistical systems cannot be precisely matched, in essence the volume of trade between the two countries currently stands at 3.1 or 3.2 billion euros. We must increase this to six billion. With a view to this, after this press conference there will be a high-level business forum, in which representatives from fifteen Turkish and fifteen Hungarian corporations will meet His Excellency and myself, so that we can discuss how we can take the next steps in this economic development. At the same time I’d like to inform you that Exim Bank has opened a credit line of more than two hundred million dollars for the financing of Turkish-Hungarian intercompany cooperation.
And finally, I’d like to mention one more thing that rarely attracts attention in the Hungarian media: Turkey is our strategic partner not only on the issues of migration and security, but also on the issue of energy. If Hungary wants energy independence, energy sovereignty – and that is the Government’s goal – we will also need to cooperate with Turkey. The reason is that Turkey is one of the countries from which energy – above all gas – should arrive in Hungary. I have good news on this. Turkey has already completed its task, Bulgaria and Serbia are working on theirs, and we are also working to complete our own tasks. And as a result, we will see the creation of a gas pipeline that can transport gas from Turkey to Central Europe. I’d rather not mention specific deadlines, because these are very difficult tasks; but according to our calculations, gas could start arriving in Hungary via this route by the end of 2021 at the latest. And I’d also like to mention that only a few days ago we saw completion of the largest capital investment in the history of the Hungarian economy made outside the territory of Hungary: an investment made by MOL, a Hungarian company. They’ve purchased a very large business share in a gas field in Azerbaijan and in the related pipeline to Turkey. In order for this deal to be finalised, it requires the approval of the Turkish authorities: the Turkish competition authority. We very much hope that we will receive it soon.
In conclusion, I’d like to add that today 150 Turkish students are studying in Hungary with scholarships provided by the Hungarian state. We’ve agreed that in the future Turkey will be given a free hand in the distribution of these scholarships across various fields of study, meaning that we will accept Turkish students in Hungarian universities chosen by Turkey. We are pleased that members of future generations are part of the Turkish-Hungarian friendship process, and that we can therefore expect future cooperation between the two countries to be just as important for the next generation as it is for us.
Mr. PResident, thank you for visiting us. I thank the members of the press for their attention.
Photo credit: MTI