“It is very pleasant and comfortable to be the Turkish ambassador in Hungary. When people see the Turkish flag, they wave and say ‘hello’; I salute back.” These words by Ambassador Kemal Gür - in an interview with Diplomacy & Trade - well describe the amicable relations between the two countries, the two peoples.
Ambassador Gür arrived in August 2010, “looking forward to interesting times in Hungary”. Having been posted in different positions all over the world – from China to the Council of Europe – by the Turkish Foreign Ministry since 1973, he returned from the ambassadorial post in Pakistan in 2007 to become Director General for Consular Affairs at the Foreign Office in Ankara. As a “nice coincidence”, just three days after meeting a Hungarian consular delegation last year, he was asked to become the next Turkish ambassador in Budapest.
Upon arriving in Hungary, Ambassador Gur expressed that he would like to see “more ‘Madjaristan’ (Hungary) in Turkey and more Turkey in Madjaristan in culture, science, economic relations and political solidarity.” “Even before the change of the political system in Hungary over 20 years ago, bilateral relations were very good,” he adds. “In international fora, the mutual support has almost always been a tradition.” Regarding the current issue of Turkish involvement in Libya, Ambassador Gur says “we are involved but our intention is to let Libya, its people, its tribes decide about its future, not other countries.” Turkish submarines and warships are in action under the auspices of NATO “to make sure Gaddhafi’s forces are isolated and cannot crush the opposition forces. Turkey supports every effort for peace.”
Turkey, due to its geopolitical situation, plays an important role to European energy security. “When completed, the Nabucco pipeline will greatly help the situation. Once the last signature – that of Hungary – is on the document, the project, I think, will make headway,” the Ambassador says. The Turkish economy has been thriving in past years but this is not evidenced in Turkish investments in Hungary. Kemal Gur is confident that will change in the next five years.
Investments in Hungary
“I expect air services to improve between the two countries. In wind and other alternative energy technologies, three Turkish companies are interested in setting up businesses in Hungary. There is also interest in the sale of semi-finished goods, electronic products and construction material. In turn, Turkish firms buy Hungarian pharmaceutical products.” The volume of bilateral trade is roughly EUR 2 billion, which did not fall even during the crisis. The major Turkish companies present in Hungary are Celebi Ground Handling at Budapest Airport and EGE Seramik that provided tiles for basically all fashionable hotels in Budapest. “In addition, transport companies and restaurants are characteristic Turkish businesses in this country. A fish restaurant from the Bosporus is likely to appear in Budapest in the second half of this year,” he adds.
The area in which he sees amicable relations further enhanced is culture, especially through cultural exchanges to promote people-to-people relations. Ferenc Liszt Year in Hungary, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the world-renowned Hungarian composer, provides a great opportunity. A very promising Turkish pianist, Ruya Taner, performed at the Ambassador’s residence and in the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest last year. This June, she will return to play in the National Museum. The performance of the Whirling Dervishes, also to be on stage in the Hungarian capital later this year, presents human values such as respect for each other. And, the Turkish Cinema Days will present seven new award-winning Turkish films here. The Budapest Opera is invited to take part at the international opera festival in an antique open-air theater in Antalya on the Mediterranean coast this June. A much earlier Hungarian ‘performance’ was by four Hungarian professors in 1926 when the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, reformed the script by changing it to the Latin alphabet, and they were asked to help with the structure.