Turkey will eliminate its visa requirement for Hungarians, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said after talks with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban in Ankara on Wednesday.
Orban expressed thanks for the move and said that although Hungary must respect Schengen visa rules, it has granted the largest possible benefits to Turkey within those limitations, namely that it has made it easier for businesspeople, sportsmen and actors to obtain visas.
Hungary has the best visa regime for Turkey among all European Union states, Orban said.
He added that Hungary advocates Turkey’s EU integration and supports the idea that Turkey should have visa-free access even before EU membership as a recognition of its economic achievements. He added that Turkey’s integration was also in the EU’s utmost interest as it is not possible to reverse current economic trends in the EU without further enlargement and the “acceptance” of Turkey’s economy.
Turkey has become a major economic power, he said.
Erdogan said annual trade between Hungary and Turkey currently amounted to 2 billion dollars, and plans are afoot to increase this to 5 billion by 2020. He said diversifying and expanding economic ties was also on the agenda. Erdogan thanked Hungary for its support to Turkey’s EU accession.
The Turkish prime minister emphasised that the countries of the Visegrad Four grouping (Czech Rep, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) could become some of Turkey’s most important partners.
Before the press conference members of the respective governments of Hungary and Turkey formed the Hungarian-Turkish strategic cooperation council. The prime ministers signed statements on establishing the council, which Erdogan said could raise relations to a higher order. Several other agreements were signed on the sidelines.
Orban met Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, as well as Speaker of Parliament Cemil Cicek during the day.
He addressed a Hungarian-Turkish business forum earlier, where he stressed that Hungarian-Turkish relations had strong roots, dating back to several decades, as well as a promising future.
The prime minister encouraged Turkish businesspeople to trade with, and invest in Hungary and foster traditional friendship between the two countries.
Addressing over 200 Turkish and Hungarian businesspeople, Orban said that from the geographical point of view Hungary plays a key role in East-West trade and forms part of central Europe, a region to become the engine of growth for the European economy.
Before the forum Orban laid a wreath by the memorial for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Orban started his programme in Istanbul, where he addressed an audience at the Marmara University on the occasion that the university gave him an honorary doctorate for his political achievements.