At the joint international press conference held in the Castle Garden Bazaar, Mr Orbán said Hungarian foreign policy is based on the tenet that without Turkey the flow of migration heading for Europe cannot be stopped.
Therefore, the parties reviewed the issues related to this at their Budapest meeting as well, and Hungary expressed its appreciation to Turkey for having detained 350,000 illegal border-crossers this year alone, the Prime Minister said. He added that if Turkey had not done so, these people would all be here, near Hungary’s southern border.
In answer to a question related to migration, Mr Orbán stated that Hungary is able to defend its borders; in whichever direction migrants are setting out, it is absolutely certain that not a single illegal migrant can cross Hungary’s borders. The physical border protection system is able to protect Hungarians from illegal migration, he said.
He also said the goal is for those who have left their native land to be able to return home because instead of bringing problems here, to Europe, help must be taken where those problems emerge.
He reassured the Turkish President that Hungary is ready to take part in reconstruction programmes in the safe zones in Turkey’s neighbourhood in accordance with its weight.
He repeated his view that Hungary is located in a geographical space designated by three major cities: Istanbul, Moscow and Berlin. In this context, he recalled that a few days ago Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Foreign Minister Haiko Maas had been to Budapest, while today the Turkish President is in the Hungarian capital. “This is exactly the kind of foreign policy which we would like to continue also in the future. We aspire to close cooperation with the countries which are important for Hungary,” he said.
Regarding the framework of Hungarian-Turkish cooperation, Mr Orbán recalled that in 2013 they had concluded an agreement with President Erdogan in Ankara about setting up a strategic council at the highest level and conducting annual meetings.
He also pointed out that both Hungary and Turkey are NATO members, and are as such military allies. Defence industry cooperation between the two countries has started, and is making good progress.
He further mentioned that Hungary and Turkey have jointly-financed programmes in Africa: They have sent a medical mission to Kenya, and they are about to start a programme, as part of which they will provide water and health care assistance for Ghana.
Speaking about Hungarian-Turkish economic cooperation, Mr Orbán said at present the volume of trade between the two countries stands at around EUR 3.1 to 3.2 billion which they would like to increase to EUR 6 billion.
Turkey is a strategic partner of Hungary in the field of energy as well, and Hungary also needs cooperation with Ankara to maintain its energy sovereignty, he argued. He said it is good news that the pipeline through which gas could be conveyed via Turkey to Central Europe will be completed soon. According to expectations, he added, gas could start flowing to Hungary some time at the end of 2021.
The Prime Minister recalled that Hungary’s largest capital investment outside Hungary in the history of the Hungarian economy had been finalised recently: the oil and gas company Mol purchased a large share in an Azeri gas field and in the connected pipeline which travels through Turkey. He observed that the transaction has yet to be approved by the Turkish competition authority.
Mr Orbán finally observed that at present 150 Turkish students are studying in Hungary with state scholarships, and in the future the Turkish party will be given a free hand concerning the distribution of studies and programmes.
Regarding the fact that Hungary did not condemn Turkey due to its offensive in North Syria, Mr Orbán said, on the one hand, that Hungary will always give Turkey the respect that is its due, and “if anyone in Hungary fails to give Turkey that respect, it is my duty as prime minister to apologise to Turkey”. “We will not resign ourselves to anyone making fun of another country’s leader, or of another country,” he stressed.
On the other hand, he repeated that Hungary does not want to have to detain hundreds of thousands of people at its southern borders, and therefore “we must support Turkey’s aspirations to create security zones in its neighbourhood in order to resettle migrants there”.
“Just because we are a member of the EU does not mean we will adopt bad habits. (…) This is how Hungary looks upon Turkey as well,” he stated.
In response to the news that Olivér Várhelyi could be given the portfolio of enlargement and neighbourhood policy in the European Commission, the Prime Minister said “the fact that Hungary is undertaking the responsibilities related to enlargement and neighbourhood policy clearly indicates that we are not out there for cheap success”. Today, there is no more thankless portfolio in the EU than this, he said, but Hungary believes it will be able to present the right arguments in favour of enlargement. He also indicated at the same time that there is a country group within the EU that would seek to reform the entire body of legislation regarding enlargement.
Before the press conference, the Hungarian and Turkish parties signed several agreements in the presence of Mr Orbán and Mr Erdogan: an archive cooperation agreement, a declaration of intent regarding postal cooperation, a declaration of intent regarding cooperation on family affairs, an agreement on education and culture, an agreement on road transport, a declaration of intent regarding cooperation within the framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum programme, a declaration of intent regarding cooperation in space research, and a declaration of intent on diplomatic cooperation. The 10th document was a political declaration which was signed by Mr Orbán and Mr Erdogan.