Honourable President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to express my appreciation and gratitude to President Ilham Aliyev for the organisation of this summit. I often come to Baku, and I would like to congratulate you on the fantastic development that I see on every one of my visits. I echo previous speakers in congratulating President Sooronbay Jeenbekov on his country’s presidency over the past year. I am grateful to you, Your Excellency, for the invitation to your wonderful country, and for the opportunity of being there with you. I would also like to congratulate President Nazarbayev, a great friend of the Kipchaks, on his high-level decoration. Not everyone here is aware that there are Kipchaks in Hungary, that many Hungarians have Kipchak blood, and that they have their own self-government. President Nazarbayev is also President of the Hungarian Kipchak tribes, and we send him a message every year when the annual meeting of the Kipchaks is held in Hungary. Your Excellency, congratulations on your high-level decoration.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was in Kyrgyzstan one year ago that I first had the opportunity to attend this meeting, but we have been a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic Council for five years, and we also take part in the work of the International Turkic Academy as an observer. We joined the Turkic Council as an observer so that we can contribute something, rather than simply be a beneficiary. What we Hungarians can offer this council is a connection to Europe and the European Union. Therefore in the past few months we have established a European representation of the Turkic Council, inaugurating it in Budapest together with your foreign ministers. This is a permanent representation, but it also provides a platform for business forums and cultural events. We look forward to receiving your delegates so that the work can begin as soon as possible, and I thank Your Excellencies for having today agreed to the signing of the head office agreement.
We attach great importance to economic and trade cooperation. Hungary’s exports account for up to 85 per cent of our total gross domestic product, our GDP. Last year we had economic growth of 5 per cent, and this will be repeated this year. We have launched an investment programme in order to assist Hungarian businesses in making investments abroad, so we are supporting these. This is one reason that during my premiership the volume of trade between Hungary and Member States of the Turkic Council has doubled, reaching four billion dollars. I would like to inform you that the Hungarian Eximbank has opened a credit line for Member States of the Turkic Council. Your businesses and Hungarian businesses will be able to draw on this together. We have opened the following credit lines: 195 million euros for Hungarian-Turkish businesses; 80 million euros for Kazakh-Hungarian cooperation; 80 million euros for Hungarian-Uzbek cooperation; 80 million euros for Hungarian-Azeri cooperation; and 27 million euros for Hungarian-Kyrgyz cooperation. We are actively involved in the work of the Turkic Council’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. When your businesses have used these credit lines, we will be able to extend them.
There is a great geographical distance between us, and therefore relations between our citizens are extremely important. I would like to inform you that we are currently providing at total of 725 Hungarian state scholarships for young people from the countries of the Turkic Council: 250 scholarships for Kazakh students; 200 scholarships for Azeri students; 150 scholarships for Turkish students; 75 scholarships for Uzbek students; and 30 for Kyrgyz students. We are ready, Ladies and Gentlemen, to increase these numbers further.
Allow me to say a few words about what is happening in the European Union today. At present the new bodies of the European Union are being formed: the Parliament has been recently elected, and the Commission is now being formed. Every Member State delegates a member to the Commission, and that member is given a portfolio. This is an important body. Hungary is currently fighting to ensure that, in this European government, Hungarians are given the portfolio of enlargement and neighbourhood policy. Our chances are not bad, but this is a fierce battle. If we manage to secure this portfolio, we will have close cooperation with Azerbaijan on the issue of Eastern partnership, and with Turkey on the issue of membership talks. If we manage to secure this portfolio, we will gladly assist you in furthering your endeavours.
I would also like to say a few words about Brexit, which I would especially like to draw to the attention of the Turkic Council. No one can be sure, but I believe that Britain will leave the EU at the end of this month. So far, from a trade point of view, relations between British companies and members of the Turkic Council have been determined by relations between the European Union and your countries, because Britain has been a member of the EU. But now that the British are leaving, they are also leaving the European Union’s common trade policy. Therefore they will have to enter into new agreements with everyone – one by one. Naturally its trade relations with Hungary will be laid down in a future agreement between Britain and the European Union. But this will not be the case for you. So I advise the Turkic Council to think ahead and start negotiations with Britain as soon as possible on new British-Azeri, British-Turkish, British-Kazakh, British-Uzbek and British Kyrgyz trade agreements; because the opportunities for concluding such agreements will open up now. So far this has not been possible, but soon it will be. My advice is to prepare ourselves for this new opportunity, and, if possible, we should also coordinate it.
Thank you again for inviting me, and I am grateful to be here.