Budapest, February 24 (MTI) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday called for efforts to ensure gas transports to central Europe, including Hungary, via Turkey.
“We need to work to get the gas from Turkey via Serbia to central Europe and Hungary,” Orban told a press conference after talks with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. He said that the efforts were aimed at “ensuring Hungary’s gas supply after 2019-20”. Orban argued that in light of the aborted South Stream pipeline project, Russia is not planning to supply Europe with gas through Ukraine towards the end of the decade, and alternative routes will be needed. He added that “Hungary is in fact blocked” by Romania and Croatia, as those countries have not completed the necessary interconnectors. “Russia has decided to channel its gas to Turkey,” Orban said, and insisted that Hungary has no other choice.
He said they were in agreement that growing tension in Eurasia was undesirable. “Instead of facing a permanent pressure of answering the question of East or West, our interest lies in being able to say East and West,” Orban said, and called for a cooperation in which both Europe and Asia are involved on a basis of mutual benefits.
Among the Hungarian-Turkish economic achievements the prime minister highlighted the opening of an Eximbank branch office in Istanbul and record-high Hungarian exports to Turkey totalling 2 billion dollars last year. He added, however, that the goal was to increase that total to 5 billion dollars.
A 170 million dollar credit line has been opened for small and medium-size enterprises, and an investment fund set up with both sides contributing 25 million dollars, Orban said.
Orban thanked his counterpart for ensuring visa-free travel for Hungarians to Turkey. The Hungarian prime minister also accepted an invitation to Turkey.
Answering a question, Orban suggested that Hungary should “study Turkey’s formula for success” and mentioned for example the high birth rate of that country. Turkey’s demographic figures show that “it is in Turkey that the family has the highest esteem in Europe”. Turkey’s lesson is that “if we strive for success we must take the family seriously”, he insisted.
He welcomed Hungary’s decision to attribute outstanding importance to Turkey in foreign policy and thanked Hungary’s lasting support for Turkey’s EU accession aspirations.
Davutoglu said his country was open to cooperate with countries in central Europe to forward Russian gas to the region.
Concerning business ties between Turkey and Hungary, Davutoglu said it was important to make relations more dynamic, and make efforts to raise the turnover of bilateral trade to 5 billion dollars as soon as possible.
Before the press conference, the two premiers signed a declaration of intent to jointly renovate a 16th-century Turkish shrine in the Buda hills, as well as accords in several areas including social security, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, consumer protection and market control cooperation.