Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a meeting of heads of state and government of the Organization of Turkic States

3 November 2023, Astana (Астана)

 Most Honourable Presidents,

Allow me to thank President Tokayev for his invitation. We are delighted to be here, and wish you a successful presidency. I would like to express to President Erdoğan and Türkiye the respect of the Hungarian people on this, the centenary of the founding of the Republic. We Hungarians know what a fantastic achievement this was for Türkiye one hundred years ago – which, unfortunately, we Hungarians were unable to emulate one hundred years ago. I salute President Mirziyoyev and thank him for his efforts over the past year. We thank Uzbekistan for successfully leading the work of our organisation during a very difficult and complicated period. And, Mr. President, I would like to take this opportunity to wish President Aliyev every success in his work to stabilise the region, and every success in the reconstruction work in Karabakh. Congratulations, Mr. President!

Honourable Presidents,

The global developments of the recent period have been turbulent, and therefore I am pleased that we can now review this period from the perspective of the Turkic world. I would like to tell you that European politics is dominated by serious challenges. We are facing difficult dilemmas. The answers that we will give in Europe will have an impact – a strong impact – on the relationship between the Turkic world and Europe, so first of all I would like to talk briefly about this. In general, and in summary, from a European perspective global security is in the worst condition it has been in since the end of the Cold War. Over the past thirty years the situation has never been as difficult and complicated as it is now. In Europe there has been a year and a half of war between Russia and Ukraine, there is armed conflict in the Middle East and a growing terrorist threat in the countries of the European Union, and at Europe’s borders we are unable – with the sole exception of Hungary – to stop the surges of migration. Moreover, within a short space of time the world economy has been turned upside down twice – once by COVID and once by Ukraine. Energy prices have risen, and this is seriously damaging European competitiveness. This is the situation in our region.

Honourable Presidents,

The core of the European dilemma is the question of what is in Europe’s interest: either the formation of blocs in the world economy, or the development of global connectivity. This is the great debate that is taking place in Europe today. One tendency wants to push Europe in the direction of forming blocs. First European-Russian economic cooperation – which is the basis of the European economy – was cut off; and now in Europe we are debating whether we should restrict the East, including the Chinese. The technical terms we use for this in Europe are “decoupling” and “derisking”. The other tendency in this debate is the one to which we Hungarians belong, which seeks to strengthen cooperation and sees in interdependence an opportunity for development and increased competitiveness. We would therefore like the coming period to be about connectivity and global interconnections. I know the Organization of Turkic States to be a champion of connectivity. I am convinced that the direction we have been following in recent years is the right direction.

Honourable Presidents,

I would also like to say a few words about the ongoing European debate on the Ukrainian-Russian war. This is a direct risk for all of us in Europe, and Hungary is a neighbour of Ukraine. A year and a half has passed, and I have to say that so far it is clear that the European strategy has failed. The plan was that Ukraine would fight, we in the West would provide the money and the weapons, the result of this would be Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield, Russia’s defeat in the war, changes in Moscow, and our conclusion of an agreement with a new Russian leadership. This was a logical plan, an ambitious and logical plan, but it is not working. Therefore the question that now dominates European politics is this: should we face up to reality and come up with a Plan B? Some people propose continuing with what has been done so far, while others propose a Plan B. An item currently on the agenda is giving Ukraine 50 billion euros. This is a sign that the majority still thinks that we should continue the earlier, failed, strategy and finance it. Today this debate is causing great tension between European countries, and this will continue for at least two months. I can inform the presidents that Hungary is pushing for a Plan B, which aims for a ceasefire, peace negotiations and the construction of a new European security architecture that reassures Ukraine and is acceptable to Russia. I am convinced that such a new European security architecture must include Türkiye and – through Türkiye – the Turkic world; because without Türkiye it is impossible to imagine a sustainable European security architecture that will bring long-term peace. I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Erdoğan for the efforts he has recently made to restore peace in Europe. We are counting on his contribution in the coming period! 

Honourable Presidents,

In this international context, the role of the Organization of Turkic States is becoming increasingly important. The Turkic states have been able to exert a moderating influence on conflicts, and we have successfully intervened to reduce the risks of escalation. Hungary would like to continue to strengthen this policy within the Organization of Turkic States. I confirm Hungary’s readiness to participate in the work of the Turkic Investment Fund, and we are maintaining our earlier commitment to contribute 100 million euros. Thank you for the opportunity to join the Turkic Green Finance Council. I would like to inform the presidents that we are one of the twenty countries in the world that is growing its GDP while reducing its emissions. We are honoured to be hosting the upcoming meeting of the Transport Connectivity Programme in Budapest. We will take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Turkic Special Economic Zone. We are negotiating the investment protection section of the Turkic Free Trade Agreement, which we would like to join as soon as possible. 

Most Honourable President Tokayev, Honourable Presidents,

I confirm Hungary’s commitment to the success of Turkic cooperation. We shall continue to do our utmost on Hungary’s part to ensure that the initiatives of the Organization of Turkic States achieve their goals. 

Thank you very much for your kind attention.