Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stressed that Turkey was a strategic partner for Hungary and praised Turkey’s role in stopping Europe-bound migration.
Orbán spoke at a press conference after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Budapest. The Hungarian premier noted that Turkey stopped 350,000 illegal immigrants from entering Europe this year alone and offered Hungary’s support in the re-building efforts taking place in countries neighboring Turkey, state news service MTI reported. “The aim is for people who have left their homeland to be able to return there; problems shouldn’t be brought to Europe but rather help should be brought where the problems arise,” Orbán said at the joint press conference with Erdogan.
Orbán and Erdogan agreed in 2013 to establish a bilateral strategic council operating at the highest political level and to meet each year. The two countries want to boost the volume of bilateral trade to EUR 6 billion from the current EUR 3.1-3.2 billion, Orbán said, adding that the planned natural gas pipeline connecting Turkey and central Europe would be highly beneficial to the region. The pipeline is expected to be operational by the end of 2021, the Hungarian premier said.
Speaking about Turkey’s military actions in Syria, Orbán noted that “we must support Turkey’s efforts to create security zones in its vicinity and re-settle migrants” there.
There are nearly four million migrants currently in Turkey and the Turkish government is “patiently” holding back the crowds from traveling further to Europe, thus honoring its cooperation agreement with the EU even though the bloc has not yet transferred all the funds the two sides had earlier agreed upon, Erdogan said at the press conference.
The Turkish president thanked Hungary for supporting Turkey in its fight against terrorism and expressed his gratitude to the Hungarian government for backing Turkey’s EU accession plans. Brussels has been very negative toward Turkey lately, which is very harmful for the bloc given that Turkey's membership would benefit the EU, Erdogan said. He added that a delegation of 15 Turkish businessmen had accompanied him on his trip to Budapest to hold talks with Hungarian businesses on potential cooperation. Ankara will provide all the necessary support to bolster bilateral economic ties, Erdogan said.
A crowd of demonstrators gathered in downtown Budapest to protest against Erdogan’s visit and express their sympathy and support for the Kurdish people. Budapest’s recently elected mayor, Gergely Karácsony also joined the demonstration, online news portal index.hu said.