Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are the best of friends

Surprise! Yesterday late afternoon when most likely Viktor Orbán and his entourage, numbering some 120 government officials and businessmen, had already boarded the plane to Istanbul, the prime minister’s press department announced his trip to Turkey. The schedule was crowded. That same evening Orbán opened the Hungarian House, a cultural center, and a Hungarian trading center, both in Istanbul. And he still had energy to deliver a speech before Hungarian and Turkish businessmen about the great prospects that Turkish-Hungarian economic relations offered to both countries.

According to the prime minister’s website, Orbán’s speech was delivered in front of about 200 people, which leads me to believe that the Turks were in the minority at the event. However, those present could learn that “foreign capital is arriving in Hungary at an exceptionally fast pace” and that the Orbán government “had already laid the foundations of a successful Hungarian economy of the future.” When I hear such brazen lies from Viktor Orbán, I really wonder whether perhaps his ambitious plans for expanding Hungary’s horizons toward the business world outside of the European Union falter in part because of such claims that lack any foundation whatsoever. Surely, the businessmen who attend these gatherings are well informed on economic and financial matters, and therefore they must know that it is simply not true that foreign capital is pouring into Hungary. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case. The same must be true about the business friendliness of the Hungarian government when all foreign financial papers are full of stories about the incredible governmental attacks on the banking sector and multinational firms operating in Hungary.

This morning he gave another speech entitled “Hungary and Europe in a Changing World” at the Marmara University in Istanbul, where he also received an honorary doctorate for his work on Turkish-Hungarian relations and for his efforts on behalf of Turkey’s quest for membership in the European Union. Here he expounded on his ideas about the future of the European Union which in his view will be successful only if it expands and includes Turkey and the Balkans. At the same time, member countries should have more say in conducting their own economic policy. He also claimed that the European Union’s “relations with Russia must be reevaluated.” Gépnarancs.hu reminded his readers that Gábor Vona was also a guest of the University only a month ago. He didn’t get an honorary degree, however, only a plaque from the dean of the university for his efforts at  reviving Turkish-Hungarian traditions.)

I mentioned only a couple of days ago that Péter Szijjártó, who by the way accompanied Viktor Orbán to Turkey, expressed his hope that the Israelis would take advantage of Hungary’s enormous gas storage facilities. It seems that  negotiations with Turkey to the same end were already under way. Magyar Földgáztároló Zrt. (Hungarian Gas Storage Corp.) and the Turkish Naturgaz signed a letter of intent. A similar agreement was signed between Eximbank, a Hungarian export-import bank, and the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB). The Hungarians emphasized that the storage of Turkish gas in Hungary wouldn’t need any further work on infrastructure because the pipeline between Turkey and Hungary already exists.

Today the Hungarian delegation moved on to Ankara where Orbán met Abdullah Gül, the president of Turkey. I do hope that he was well prepped and didn’t praise Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he obviously greatly admires. The night before at the opening of Magyar Ház he said: “Thirteen years ago, when I last came to Turkey, there was a different prime minister in the country and different politics. Now 13 years later, I can see huge differences, not only in technical terms, but also developments with roads and bridges, as well as high-speed train projects, buildings, and also the people who believe in their strength.” It is a known fact that Gül’s relations with Erdogan are anything but friendly, mostly because of Erdogan’s authoritarian rule. Only recently Gül hinted that he was prepared to challenge Erdogan, who is contemplating a run for the presidency next year. Erdogan has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003 and under rules adopted by his own party is barred from seeking a fourth term as prime minister. Therefore he has his eye on the presidency.

The joint press conference held by Erdogan and Orbán reflected their mutual admiration. These two are soul mates.

Hungary received a gift from Erdogan: Hungarians no longer need a visa to visit Turkey. In turn, Hungary made it as easy as possible for visiting Turkish businessmen, artists, and athletes to stay in Hungary for extended periods of time. In return, Erdogan promised that the Visegrád countries will be the most important trading partners of Turkey.

A telling picture. Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. MTI/AP Burhan Ozbilici

A telling picture. Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara
MTI/AP Burhan Ozbilici

Orbán naturally emphasized Hungary’s support for Turkey’s integration into the European Union. He expressed his firm belief that Turkish citizens shouldn’t be required to have visas to travel in countries of the European Union. Such a gesture wouldn’t be a “gift but a sign of appreciation of the fantastic Turkish economic accomplishments.” Again, he went over the top when he announced that without Turkey’s presence in the European Union “it will be impossible to turn around the current economic tendencies” in Europe. Turkey’s message to Hungary is that “one’s own road is always the best road” to success. Finally, the Hungarian government will give 150 scholarships to Turkish students who wish to study in Hungary. One can certainly admire Orbán’s generosity when he vetoed all efforts at giving scholarships to Hungarian students. They can get only student loans.

Members of the two governments conducted the first meeting of the joint council of strategic cooperation just established between Turkey and Hungary.

MTVA, Orbán’s new organ in charge of funneling news to the Hungarian state television and radio, and TRT, the Turkish public radio and television, also signed an agreement. Another was signed by MTI and the Turkish Anadolu Agency. One should note that for the second year in a row Turkey jailed more journalists than any other country (with Iran and China close behind) according to an annual report released by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Forty journalists are currently in jail in Turkey. In Hungary, at least, no journalist has yet been incarcerated.

Advertisements

31 comments

  1. OT:

    Interesting, thought-provoking article about the Roma-killings (in Hungarian). The article is written in an extremely careful language, but one has to be quite dumb not to conclude that one Omar Ádám, a half-Hungarian, half-Syrian man, was both an asset (likely a ‘pro’ agent who was almost placed in a diplomatic position) for whichever security agency it was and at the same time he was a Fidesz-activist. Thus it seems that we have a Fidesz-activist who was in some way helping the Roma-killers, although this part is obviously less-researched because, for whatever reason, it was not even investigated at all during the whole procedure. Wonder why? The question thus logically arises that from which point did he know, and so his handlers know (or had reasonable suspicion) that Kiss and his gang were killing Romas?

    http://nol.hu/belfold/20131219-sayfo_omar__a_jo_barat

  2. The visit (a follow-up to Erdoğan’s trip to BP last February) had been announced in the Turkish press on Dec. 12th. I don’t see what’s wrong with it at all.

    Indeed bilateral trade between the two countries has increased (with a positive balance for Hungary), and so have Turkish investments. Not that the current govt has much to do with it but no politician can resist claiming credit for good news. Also, Erdoğan will be in Brussels soon, and it is ample time to talk realpolitik and go past the current anti-muslim hysteria prevalent in both Germany and France on the subject of Turkey’s EU membership.

    Finally, beyond the populist and autocratic inclination of both PMs (and their divided opponents), they’re not in the same league. Under RTE Turkey has experienced an economic boom and notable progress in civil liberties – the opposite of OV’s Hungary. And if the conservative backlash in Turkey is indeed worrysome, the Turks are far from apathetic.

  3. LEP :
    The liberal and enlightened people of Turkey and Hungary must unite against these tyrants.

    Well said!

    Unfortunately (as these tyrants got elected) most people in Hungary and Turkey are not fair minded.

    I say that as someone who lives in Hungary and used to live in Turkey (Hungary is much better than Turkey though).

  4. @Eva,

    He just gave a short radio interview. He was asked about copies. He sounded to me as someone who did not make copies, since “all originals are in the system of the Hungarian IRS”. I hope he is not so naive to suppose that originals cannot be eliminated from a system without a trace – think of Simicska’s “night of the long bytes” 15 years ago.

  5. @Marcel Dé, The Turkish government announced it on the 12th and the Hungarian on the day of departure. Unlike you, I think that there is something very wrong with not announcing ahead of time the prime minister’s schedule.

    A related topic, if one wants to know the daily schedule of either Obama or Merkel one can find it easily on their websites. Not so in Hungary.

  6. @Tarokk, I took over Népszabadság’s first article and received at least one comment which gave me hell for doing so. Then a few days ago I discovered a letter on the timeline of Hungarian Spectrum on Facebook by our Syrian telling me that he is suing Népszabadság and asking me to take off my post reporting on the case because since this story appeared in English his possibilities for a scholarship from abroad is jeopardized. I told him that I have never taken off any post of mine and I’m not planning to do so in the future either.

    I’m glad that Népszabadság wasn’t intimidated either.

  7. In Turkey, at least a police chief dares to investigate government people.

    ” Istanbul’s most senior police official was dismissed Thursday, days after police launched raids that detained dozens of people. The massive corruption and bribery investigation has ensnared the sons of three government ministers, threatening Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government as elections approach.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/turkey-dismisses-istanbul-police-chief-130118444.html

  8. Eva S. Balogh :
    @Marcel Dé, The Turkish government announced it on the 12th and the Hungarian on the day of departure. Unlike you, I think that there is something very wrong with not announcing ahead of time the prime minister’s schedule.
    A related topic, if one wants to know the daily schedule of either Obama or Merkel one can find it easily on their websites. Not so in Hungary.

    Sorry, I meant I saw nothing wrong with the visit itself.

    I have actually no clue about the delay in the Hungarian announcement that you justly noticed. However, the Turkish announcement five days before do not hint at a last minute decision at all.

    I agree: the PM website is sub-par (though comparing it with the US or Germany is a tad unfair in terms of communications spending).

  9. tappanch :
    Laszlo Keller, the investigator into the corruption of the first Orban cabinet received a suspended sentence two days ago for exactly the same charge leveled against Mr Horvath now : “abuse of personal data”
    The cases against current Chief Prosecutor Polt and current Interior Minister Pinter were never fully investigated.
    http://atlatszo.hu/2013/12/19/kormanyzati-tenyfeltaras-es-elszamoltatas-1-0-a-vegjatek/

    The most interesting aspect of this is, that Keller didn’t get the information he required, but “he was insistent” and if he was getting it, he was able to make “infringement of privacy” (abuse of personal data, if you wish) therefore he is punishable.
    On ground of probable possibilities!

    People, wake me up, please!

  10. Well, the “foreign capital is arriving in Hungary at an exceptionally fast pace” and that the Orbán government“had already laid the foundations of a successful Hungarian economy of the future.” sounds quite true.
    After all, he has spoken only of the speed, but not the volume, and even if the foundations of something already laid, doesn’t in any way guaranties, that the construction goes on, does it?
    The man, who never lied, according to himself.
    I’d rather hear of a man, who tell the truth all the times, but hey, this is another person, quite clearly.
    I wonder, if he/she even born yet…

  11. I just read the Népszabadság article that was linked by tarokk. I came away with deep suspicions that our Syrian friend probably has attempted to become an operative for other intelligence agencies and not just in Hungary.

    The CIA gets approached continually by characters like this, in fact Istvan Csontos who plead guilty of involvement in the Roma killings was also a driver for the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and would have likely been vetted by US/NATO military intelligence. Csontos got a 13-year prison sentence because he turned over on the rest of the murdering gang which would be the way any intelligence operative would be given an out. Csontos’s handling officer in Hungarian military intelligence also gave evidence in a closed court session at the trial.

  12. @tappanch
    I’ve listened an interview with him on klubradio.hu, and he answered to the question – if he was ready for this kind of action” – hinting, if he was “prepared” properly – he answered ‘yes’.
    It’s – in my reading – means, that he made proper precautionary steps to preserve data regarding the subject.
    As I gather, today one must be totally green behind the ears to presume, that the government – or anyone for that matter – will play by the rules of the boy/girl scouts, particularly in such cases. I am fairly certain, that Horváth indeed salted away some copies for safe keeping – otherwise he shouldn’t even started the story.
    In the interview today he mentioned also that a few others with similar knowledge as himself prepared to come forward eventually.
    All in all, it means, that he made mostly all the necessary moves to secure his well being.
    I really hope he did.

  13. Eva S. Balogh :
    @Marcel Dé, The Turkish government announced it on the 12th and the Hungarian on the day of departure. Unlike you, I think that there is something very wrong with not announcing ahead of time the prime minister’s schedule.
    A related topic, if one wants to know the daily schedule of either Obama or Merkel one can find it easily on their websites. Not so in Hungary.

    They couldn’t be afraid of a little Armenian ‘payback’, could they? Naw…

  14. Regarding the case of Horváth – and hopefully – of his followers:

    Is there any chance to set up a financial found to support such people in their struggle against the orbanist state?
    Actually I have no knowledge/experience, but I would like to support them some way.
    Any ideas/solutions/recommendations appreciated.
    Thank you in advance!
    /the spectator

  15. spectator :
    Regarding the case of Horváth – and hopefully – of his followers:
    Is there any chance to set up a financial found to support such people in their struggle against the orbanist state?
    Actually I have no knowledge/experience, but I would like to support them some way.
    Any ideas/solutions/recommendations appreciated.
    Thank you in advance!
    /the spectator

    I would contribute, from what little I have, and I’m sure others would do. But I hope people with more resources — such as George Soros — could also make the Horvath Defence Fund more substantial.

  16. Stevan Harnad :

    spectator :
    Regarding the case of Horváth – and hopefully – of his followers:
    Is there any chance to set up a financial found to support such people in their struggle against the orbanist state?
    Actually I have no knowledge/experience, but I would like to support them some way.
    Any ideas/solutions/recommendations appreciated.
    Thank you in advance!
    /the spectator

    I would contribute, from what little I have, and I’m sure others would do. But I hope people with more resources — such as George Soros — could also make the Horvath Defence Fund more substantial.

    Thanks Stevan, exactly what I hoped for!
    One step remains though, the actual making, what I’ve asked help for – due to far than inadequate experience.
    I hope, that someone in the know will step in!
    Thank you again, you proved my point!

  17. Possible fraud around the taxpayers’ money paid for the Holocaust Memorial year.

    09-12-2013
    Maria Schmidt: The railroad station of Jozsefvaros will be named “House of Fates”

    09-23-2013
    Maria Schmidt’s institute publishes a 16 million HUF tender to name the railroad station of Jozsefvaros

    The winning name is “House of Fates”. The winner is a new firm, its web page is almost empty.

    http://magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/bejelentettek-a-nevet-majd-palyazatot-irtak-ki-a-sorsok-haza-nevalkotasara-87936

  18. Eva S. Balogh :
    Did anyone notice the upheaval in Turkey? Orbán appears and trouble comes. Do you remember what happened in Egypt. Orbán and Mubarak were cheating amiably one day and the next Mubarak was in jail.
    Now in Turkey: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25437624

    Well, I am not sure, that Orbán will be invited many more places:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/world/europe/growing-corruption-inquiry-hits-close-to-turkish-leader.html?_r=0
    His reputation getting dangerously close to of one certain ‘black cat’ crossing your way…

  19. tappanch :
    Laszlo Keller, the investigator into the corruption of the first Orban cabinet received a suspended sentence two days ago for exactly the same charge leveled against Mr Horvath now : “abuse of personal data”
    The cases against current Chief Prosecutor Polt and current Interior Minister Pinter were never fully investigated.
    http://atlatszo.hu/2013/12/19/kormanyzati-tenyfeltaras-es-elszamoltatas-1-0-a-vegjatek/

    Mr Keller’s defense can be read below:

    http://eztigyhogy.nolblog.hu/archives/2013/12/18/Ezt_mondta_Keller_Laszlo_az_utolso_szo_jogan/

Comments are closed.