“As an export-orientated state, it is in Hungary’s fundamental interests to reinforce its economic relations with Turkey”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Monday in Budapest at a press conference following the 6th session of the Turkish-Hungarian Joint Economic Committee.

Mr. Szijjártó said energy is one of the determining elements of Turkish-Hungarian economic relations, highlighting the possibility of importing gas from the south and the expansion of cooperation with relation to nuclear energy. “The extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Hungary could reinforce Hungary’s energy security, in addition to which the pipeline could soon also enable natural gas from Azerbaijan to reach Central Europe”, he added. During the talks, the Minister told the Turkish party that in September the Hungarian Government will be launching the procedure for the pre-allocation of the capacities of the pipeline that will be traversing the Serbian-Hungarian border.

Mr. Szijjártó announced that cooperation will also become tighter within the field of the application of nuclear energy in view of the fact that both parties are assigning particular importance to the peaceful use of nuclear power. “Turkey is planning the construction of a dozen nuclear reactors, and Hungary is sharing its atomic energy know-how by undertaking to train Turkish nuclear experts”, he added. The Minister said Turkish-Hungarian relations are also mutually important in the interests of foreign market expansion. “Turkey can help the appearance of Hungarian enterprises in Africa as a strong partner, and accordingly Hungarian agricultural, water industry and security investment projects could become involved in Turkish spheres of interest on the continent”, he stated. “In addition, the customs handling agreement, which is in the preparation phase, could attract the logistics of Turkish trade aimed at the EU to Hungary”, he said.

From among the results of economic cooperation, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that Eximbank is opening a 220-million-dollar credit line in the interests of further increasing last year’s Turkish-Hungarian trade flow in excess of 3.1 billion dollars, the mutual agreement on VAT rebates has come into effect, and Turkish banks could soon appear on the Hungarian market. The new agreement on freight transport will be concluded in the autumn. According to the Minister, based on its economic performance Turkey could soon be among the world’s ten most important states, and accordingly he welcomed the fact that the relationship between the two countries is based on mutual respect, and their cooperation is not hindered by open political issues. “The further opportunities for expanding relations are indicated by the fact that 358 applications were submitted for the 150 scholarship places available for Turkish students to attend Hungarian universities, and the number of Hungarian tourists visiting Turkey is expected to break another record this year after last year’s record number of 123 thousand”, the Minister noted.

Turkish Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank highlighted the importance of traditional Turkish-Hungarian friendship and the two countries’ common history in the development of relations. He added that trade between the two countries has increased by 700 percent over the course of a little under two decades, and the parties are using all possible instruments in the interests of achieving an annual bilateral trade flow of 6 billion dollars. Highlighting the importance of industrial and technological investment projects, the Minister said the Turkish Government is supporting Hungarian investors and would like to strengthen Turkish-Hungarian market expansion in third countries via financial cooperation. The representative of the Turkish Government promised Hungary support with relation to the establishment of a natural gas transport route from the south, while, as he stated, Turkey is counting on Hungary’s assistance with relation to possible EU accession and customs union negotiations. Following the meeting, the minutes of the Committee meeting were signed, as well as an action plan between the Hungarian Export Promotion Agency (HEPA) and the Turkish state agency for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.