Dear Turkish Friends,
It is good to be back in Ankara. I was here four years ago on an official state visit, and since then much has happened in Turkey. Yet someone like me, who comes here once every four years, is always surprised by the huge development strides you have made in that time: a stranger notices this the most. So I congratulate you, Prime Minister, on this development. It clearly stems from the Turkish people’s positive outlook on life: something which we Hungarians would be wise to adopt. The Honourable Prime Minister said that there is a kind of neighbourly feeling in the relationship between the two nations – and how true that is. One gets the feeling that we are almost a part of each other’s lives: for instance, I tell our Turkish friends that in Budapest it is a custom for every man to belong to a thermal bath complex: communal baths which they frequent. On the wall of the baths I belong to is an inscription declaring that they were built by Mustafa Pasha in the 1500s: heaven knows exactly when. But of course, as the Hungarians are a proud people, a plaque on the wall precisely states that this Pasha oversaw the building of the present baths on the foundations of our own ancient baths. So the two nations are almost embedded in each other’s history, and I believe that these small everyday experiences are with us in Budapest. Here in Ankara I feel at home with you, Prime Minister. so thank you for the opportunity to be here.
Naturally positive feelings are important in diplomacy. But even these are not the heart of the matter, as there are serious, unsentimental issues to be dealt with, and I reassured the Prime Minister that Hungary sees Turkey as an esteemed member of NATO. We see Turkey as a vital element, and we believe that Turkey is a key ally of Europe. Without Turkey we are unable to successfully take action against two major problems of the modern era: in this you are indispensable. One of these is the fight against terrorism, and the other is the need to address international migration. I thank Turkey – and I have thanked the Honourable Prime Minister – for the efforts made on these two issues. I have expressed the gratitude of the Hungarian people for everything you have done in this department, thereby protecting Hungary – and not only Hungary, but also the entire European Union. It would be as well for everyone else in Europe to also recognise this. We look upon you as a people who also protect us. Following from this, it is in our best interests for Turkey to be a strong and stable country, with clear leadership able to enforce its will. This is in the interest of both Hungary and Europe, and therefore we welcome the constitutional changes which you have introduced – although I should add that these are Turkey’s internal affairs, and therefore not for us to judge. But we believe that these changes, these constitutional changes, increase Turkey’s ability to defend Europe, and thereby Hungary. We wish you every success in seeing this process through; we also send heartfelt greetings to President Erdoǧan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We cooperate with Turkey at international forums. This is not just about our standing up for Turkey. We see this as natural. The Hungarian approach is “each of us will get their turn”, but this is about something more: this is about taking joint action with Turkey against examples of double standards that emerge from time to time. We do not accept that different standards should apply to some countries. In all matters we demand that fair procedures and fair standards apply to us, and in this Turkey and Hungary are good partners at international forums.
I would like to draw the attention of the Turkish press to the fact that from 1 July the Hungarian presidency will coordinate the work of the Central European alliance known as the V4: Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Today, therefore, my duty here is not just to speak on behalf of Hungary, but also to draw our Turkish friends’ attention to Central Europe and the opportunities in those other countries too. Of course Hungary is closest to our hearts, but the other three countries have also achieved great things and have major potential. We warmly recommend that our Turkish friends explore this potential.
The Honourable Prime Minister mentioned the importance of cultural heritage. This, of course, also involves respect for our ancestors. But, Dear Turkish Friends, there is something else: friendship also grows most rapidly in the soil of historical awareness; and if we want today’s young generations to also feel close to each other, the best approach is the promotion of our shared cultural heritage. We agreed on a few cultural projects of great significance, and on issues related to education. We would like a joint university, and we would also like to establish a jointly-run bilingual secondary school in Hungary. We have set ourselves some ambitious goals. The initiative came from the Prime Minister, I welcomed it, and if our Ministers work fast enough, something may come of both this university and this joint secondary school in our lifetimes.
As regards economic relations, Ladies and Gentlemen, President Erdoǧan set us a very clear task when he visited Hungary in 2012. At a business forum he announced his expectation that the volume of Turkish-Hungarian trade should increase to five billion dollars. Trade relations have improved, the figures have increased, but we have yet to achieve this target. I would like to highlight that in the first four months of this year trade between our two countries increased by 17 per cent, meaning that the volume of trade will soon reach 1 billion dollars. This in turn means that this year the figure may surpass 3 billion dollars – although this is still far below the target of 5 billion dollars set for us by the President. So we have a lot to do. This is why we have brought a large business delegation, the members of which will seek to explore the opportunities together with members of the Turkish business community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am also able to announce that, in recognition of your kind hospitality and the friendship and strategic alliance between the two countries, we shall decorate one of your leading cultural experts for his major contribution to cultural relations between our two countries. And in order to enhance our friendship even further, I have invited your prime minister to Hungary on an official state visit – and I sincerely hope that he will be able to do so soon. We could have no grounds for complaint if in the future the talks in which Hungarian diplomacy is involved are as good as those which we have had here just now. I believe that a magnificent future for Turkish-Hungarian relations is unfolding, and we can achieve great things together if we maintain our current momentum.
On behalf of us all, thank you for the opportunity to be here.