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Erdoğan, Orbán talk migration, TurkStream pipeline

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Thursday, with the two politicians touching on a variety of topics, from energy supply diversification to the situation in Syria, according to multiple reports.

Turkish President Erdoğan with Hungarian PM Orbán. (Photo: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu)

At a press conference after the meeting, Orbán lauded Hungarian-Turkish economic cooperation, adding that the current volume of trade between the two countries stands at around EUR 3.2 billion, which both sides would like to increase to EUR 6 bln, according to official government website kormany.hu.

According to the website, the PM also announced that Hungary plans to diversify its energy supply transit routes via the TurkStream pipeline by 2021.

Regarding the fact that Hungary did not condemn Turkey for its internationally criticized Syrian offensive, Orbán said that Hungary will always give Turkey the respect that is its due, and “if anyone in Hungary fails to give Turkey that respect, it is my duty as prime minister to apologize to Turkey.”

“We will not resign ourselves to anyone making fun of another country’s leader, or of another country,” he added.

Regarding the migration problem developing in Turkey, the PM said that Hungary does not want to detain hundreds of thousands of people at its southern borders, adding, “we must support Turkey’s aspirations to create security zones in its neighborhood in order to resettle migrants there.”

Erdoğan said that, due to a pact with the EU, Turkey had “patiently impeded” the departure of migrants, but noted that the EU had so far given his country EUR 3 bln, half the promised amount.

“Naturally, we will continue to host our guests whether or not we get the EU support,” Erdoğan noted. “But if there is no solution, we have to open our gates. If we open our gates [...] everyone knows where they would go.”

Protest attracts thousands, city paralyzed 

By the evening, a few thousand people, including many pro-Kurdish and anti-war activists, were marching in downtown Budapest to protest Erdoğan’s visit. Many carried Kurdish flags and anti-Erdoğan posters and signs, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Economic news portal hvg.hu said that the security measures taken in the wake of the Erdoğan visit caused a large part of the public transport system to grind to a halt, which prevented thousands of commuters from getting home. 

Mayor of Budapest Gergely Karácsony said that, until now, professional cooperation between the police and the municipality had been fair in terms of providing security measures for diplomatic events.

“However, things that happened tonight are unacceptable; metros not running permanently due to a visit by a head of state is an impossible situation,” he said last night. He added that he told the heads of public transport companies to only conduct coordination with the police in similar situations after getting the mayorʼs permission.