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Europe needs allies who extend its ring of protection

Viktor Orbán spoke about this after he had talks with  ReceTurkish Presidentp Tayyip Erdogan at the 5th meeting of the Turkey-Hungary High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

At a joint press conference held after the talks, the Prime Minister said Hungary will ask Brussels to provide more substantial and direct financial support for Ankara in the fight against migration. He also highlighted that the European Union must equally support the construction of the walls that are currently being built at the Southern and Eastern borders of Turkey and the creation of stability in North Syria.

He pointed out that migration is threatening Europe from three directions: from the Mediterranean, the Western Balkans and Belarus. Mr Orbán further reported that Turkey will send 50 border guards to Hungary in order to protect the Hungarian border. The Prime Minister stressed that for Budapest it is important for geopolitical reasons to maintain a friendly, strategic alliance with Ankara, in addition to Berlin and Moscow.

However, besides migration, another three great crises are threatening Europe as well: a health care crisis, an economic crisis and an energy supply crisis, he stated.

Regarding the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Orbán recalled that during the pandemic trade relations between Hungary and Turkey have not declined, but have increased by 30 per cent, reaching almost USD 4 billion. At the same time, he pointed out that at the beginning of the crisis when the most fundamental means for the fight against the pandemic, such as face masks, were not available, Ankara supplied raw materials to Hungary, thereby enabling the launch of local production.

Photo: Prime Minister’s Press Office/ Cher Vivien Benko

In the context of the economic crisis, Mr Orbán said the Hungarian government decided to conquer the crisis by means of investments and projects for which we need foreign investors. He indicated that it is an enormous achievement that one of the world’s biggest packaging material industry companies is currently implementing the largest Hungarian-Turkish project of all time, the construction of a factory worth HUF 70 billion in Kaposvár.

He also said they will continue cooperation in nuclear energy in the fields of science, research and training. He indicated that Hungary has increased the number of state scholarship grants provided for Turkish students from 150 to 200. He added that some of these scholarships will be available specifically for students studying nuclear science.

In answer to a question from the public service media, Mr Orbán said fuel prices have increased and are pushing inflation up to such an extent that the government was compelled to take measures. They decided to cap the prices of petrol and diesel at HUF 480. These products can be sold cheaper, but this is the maximum price.

“We made this decision for three months, and will reassess the situation at the end of February. This is a burden on big energy companies which are now compelled to surrender a part of their profits, but in order to enable the Hungarian economy to grow and for Hungarian families to be safe, we had to take this step,” he stated.

Before the meeting of the strategic council, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan jointly planted a tree of Hungarian-Turkish friendship in the garden of the presidential palace in Ankara.

After the meetings, members of the Hungarian government signed nine cooperation agreements, including in the areas of defence, science, industry, culture, technology and tourism as well as in the fields of sports and youth.

Chief Executive of MTVA Dániel Papp signed agreements with the Turkish state media provider TRT and the Turkish state news agency Anadolu. The Chief Executive told the Hungarian news agency MTI that cooperation between the Hungarian and Turkish public service media goes back many long years, and they would now like to extend this cooperation to the joint production of programmes and wider collaboration between the two countries’ news agencies.

As part of the visit, the Hungarian delegation returned to Turkey 101 ancient objects of art which the Hungarian authorities impounded at the Hungarian border in 2016.

The Turkey-Hungary High Level Strategic Cooperation Council was established in 2013. On Friday, Mr Orbán will have talks with his partners at the summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States in Istanbul.