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HomenewsErdogan and Orban pledge to strengthen ties

Erdogan and Orban pledge to strengthen ties

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban have pledged to strengthen ties after talks in Budapest.

The meeting on Monday marked the Turkish president’s second visit to the country in four months.

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Hungary and Turkey are the only two NATO countries that have so far not ratified Sweden’s bid to join the transatlantic military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Erdogan made Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid conditional on the United States Congress “simultaneously” approving Ankara’s request for F-16 fighter jets.

The two leaders did not comment on the issue in their address to reporters.

NATO enlargement was discussed during Erdogan’s visit, according to Hungarian President Katalin Novak, who also met the Turkish leader.

Erdogan’s visit coincides with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“We wish to further strengthen our ties in areas such as defence and energy, where we already have fruitful cooperation,” Erdogan said, adding that the two countries aimed to increase their trade volume to $6bn from $4bn currently.

One horsepower for 435

Erdogan was received with military honours in Budapest’s Heroes’ Square before heading into a meeting with Novak and then with Orban.

Orban presented Erdogan with the gift of a Nonius horse – though the Turkish leader fell off a horse in 2003.

“The gift from one equestrian nation to another,” Orban wrote on Facebook.

In return, Orban was gifted with an electric car made in Turkey, a photo of which he posted on X.

“The best deal I’ve ever made! For one horsepower, I got 435. Welcome to Hungary President Erdogan!” he wrote.

During a joint press conference, Orban said his country was “looking for allies with whom we can win”.

“The big plan is that Turks and Hungarians will be victorious together in the 21st century,” he said.

In recent years, Hungary has pursued a policy of opening up to the East, not only towards Russia but also towards China and Central Asian countries.

The central European country of close to 10 million people is the only European Union member state that has maintained close ties to the Kremlin since the beginning of the Ukraine war.

On Sweden’s NATO membership, Budapest has chided Stockholm over its “open hostile attitude”, accusing Swedish representatives of being “repeatedly keen to bash Hungary” on rule-of-law issues.

Orban told parliament in September that ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid was not “urgent”. In the past, Orban has repeatedly stated that Hungary supports Sweden’s bid, claiming that the approval was merely a “technicality”.

Source: AFP, Al Jazeera

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