Hungarian rhapsody for Turkic Council
Hungary’s participation in the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States (shortly, the Turkic Council -founded by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkey) as an observer last September received almost no attention in Western media outlets. The EU public opinion was most probably too occupied with the preparations for the EU parliament voting to sanction Hungary by suspending its voting rights due to Hungary posing a “systemic threat” to the EU’s founding values.
According to a statement posted on the Hungarian government’s website on Sept. 3, Prime Minister Victor Orban participated in the 6th Summit Meeting of the Turkic Council held in Kyrgyzstan. Orban’s speech at the summit was released on the website. “We are Hungarians, and we speak Hungarian. This is a unique and strange language, which is related to the Turkic languages. We have always closely followed the cooperation between countries of Turkic identity. Among you we are the people who have moved farthest West, and who also converted to Christianity. So we are a Christian people living in the West, standing on foundations of Hun-Turkic origins; the Hungarians see themselves as the late descendants of Attila,” he stated. He further expressed that “Hungary respects and nurtures its Turkic roots… In Europe Hungary is often described as the most westerly of the people of the East. Earlier this was meant as a slight – intended to express disdain and condescension. However, due to the fantastic achievements of your countries – due to the economic and political development of your countries – being referred to as an Eastern people should now be taken as praise.”
Orban’s speech includes an assessment on world order. He asserts that “It has been proven beyond doubt that the old world order – with its dogma that capital and knowledge flow from West to East in search of cheap labor – has come to an end. We are living in a new world order, and its history is fundamentally determined by the development of the rising states in the East.”
According to the press release of the Sixth Summit of the Turkic Council, “Presidents… signed the Decision on Granting Hungary the observer status at the Turkic Council.” Furthermore, at the informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the Turkic Council held on the margins of the 2017 U.N. General Assembly, the application of Hungary for the observer status at the International Turkic Academy was also approved.
Orban, in his speech to the Hungarian National Assembly on May 10, 2014, said: “Hungary is part of the Western alliance system, NATO and the European Union… We are, however, members of these alliances and not hostages.” He also stressed: “We are placing economic connections at the center of our foreign policy; we will continue the Eastern Opening.”
It seems that Hungary, under the skilled and an unconventional leadership of Orban, has been perceiving arrogance from its Western allies in recent times and has thus cleverly decided to use to its kinship bonds and the Turkic Council as a launching pad for the country’s “Eastern Opening.” This demonstrates that the emerging new world order with its multipolar structure allows countries to explore new avenues of cooperation when confronted with difficulties from their usual partners.
* Teoman Ertuğrul Tulun is an analyst at the Center for Eurasian Studies (AVİM)