Erdogan thanks Orban for ‘support at the international stage’

Orban and Erdogan in Baku [Hungarian government press service]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met in Baku on Tuesday (15 October), on the fringes of a summit of the Turkic Council, a group of countries speaking the same family of languages, which Hungary wants to join.

Recently Hungary has been instrumental in “removing the teeth” of an EU statement criticising the Turkish incursion in Syria, in which the word ‘Kurds’ does not appear. The main goal of the Turkish operation is to cleanse the territory along its border with Syria  of Kurds and re-settle 2 million of the Syrian refugees currently on Turkish soil.

Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó is also in Baku, although EU ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss precisely the Turkish incursion. He said that Hungary’s sole consideration with regard to Turkey’s actions in Syria was dictated by the Hungarian national interest, and this meant bypassing the possibility of “hundreds of thousands or even millions of illegal migrants” from turning up at Hungary’s southern border and being “forcibly held back” there.

Hungary, he said, would “gladly work with Turkey” to ensure that families forced to leave their homeland could be installed in a safe zone in Syria.

This contradicts the EU position that the conditions for the safe return for refugees in Syria have not been met. The EU has also made it clear that it would not help finance such a relocation programme.

The Hungarian press has quoted the government’s press office, according to which Erdoğan thanked Orbán for his support at the international stage. Orbán said he was looking forward to the upcoming Hungarian-Turkish government summit to be held in Budapest on 7 November.

The Turkic Council’s founding members (2009) are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, and on the occasion of the Baku summit, Uzbekistan will officially join as a full member. Hungary has had observer status in the organisation since 2018 and reportedly wants to join as a full member.

The Hungarian language is not Turkic, but Finno-Ugric.

The first idea of ​​the establishment of the Turkic Council was put forward in 2006 by the former President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The initiative has its roots in Pan-Turkism, a movement which emerged during the 1880s among Turkic intellectuals of Azerbaijan (part of the Russian Empire at the time) and the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey), with the aim of cultural and political unification of all Turkic peoples.

The press in Azerbaijan quoted Erdoğan saying that the Turkic world, which unites 300 million people, has great potential.

Turkey and Azerbaijan can solve all problems based on the principle of “Two states – one nation,” he said.

It is estimated that several hundreds of thousands of Azeris live in Turkey.

“Despite that we have different states, we are the children of one nation,” the Turkish president added. Pan-Turkism is currently a political instrument of modern Turkey and is often perceived as an imperial ambition to recover the glory of the Ottoman empire.

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