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PM Orbán visits Turkey

July 5th, 2017

As Prime Minister Orbán calls for more trade with Turkey and political cooperation with Ankara, writers critical of the government and its supporters disagree on how Hungary can and should relate to an illiberal but geopolitically important state.

Speaking at the Hungarian-Turkish Business Forum, Prime Minister Orbán said that Hungary stands by Turkey, and has not joined the cohort of its critics in Europe. Turkey’s role is crucial in protecting Europe’s outer borders, he emphasized. He also called for more trade and investment between the two countries.

In Magyar Nemzet, Dávid László accuses the Hungarian government of selecting its main strategic partners from the ranks of  authoritarian regimes. The columnist acknowledges that Hungary needs to maintain a pragmatic relationship  with Turkey, and also that PM Orbán’s pledge to help Turkey is unlikely to make a difference to Turkey’s EU membership bid. He fears, however,  that the Hungarian government may borrow some policies from increasingly illiberal Turkey.

Foreign policy is not a love affair, Tamás Ulicza writes in Magyar Hírlap. The pro-government commentator welcomes the government’s pragmatic foreign policy which puts ‘national interests’ first, rather than ideology. Whether Hungary likes the politics of the Turkish government or not, it needs to cooperate with it, Ulicza maintains. As examples of Europe’s dependence on Turkey, Ulicza names the migration crisis and energy imports.

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