AP: Orbán will hold talks with a number of leaders, including Erdogan, during the World Championships in Athletics

Renew: 18/08/2023 21:21
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Budapest – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is preparing to receive the leaders of Turkey, Serbia, Qatar and a number of Central Asian countries during the upcoming World Championships in Athletics, which starts on Saturday in Budapest. It was written today by the AP Agency, according to which these bilateral diplomatic negotiations are proof that the Central European country is moving towards eastern influence.

According to the AP, Orbán, who is characterized by an aggressive attitude towards his Western counterparts, will meet, for example, with the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or representatives of Serbia and Bosnia during the nine-day sporting event.

In an interview with Hungarian radio, Orbán described these leaders, many of whom had witnessed a decline in democracy in their countries, as friends of Hungarian politics. He also stated that this athletics championship would be a forum for bilateral negotiations with businessmen from all over the world, including China. “If there is a major world event, then the country will invite its friends,” said Orbán, adding that such events “are more or less a series of hidden diplomatic meetings.”

The composition of the guests, among whom were not the leaders of Hungary’s allies from the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance, reflected Orbán’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with autocracies in the Balkans and Asia, writes AP. The diplomatic strategy of Hungary’s prime minister, who has been in power since 2010, relies heavily on partnerships and trade agreements with countries such as Russia and China, according to the agency.

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hungary – unlike its neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe – maintained close contacts with Moscow, increasing Russian gas and oil supplies, refusing to provide weapons to Kiev or allow the transfer of military aid from other countries through its territory. This attitude – along with years of alleged rule-of-law violations and retreat from democracy – has largely isolated Hungary from its Western partners.

Partnerships with countries outside the EU and NATO are therefore important in Budapest, according to the AP. According to Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjárt, a large part of Orbán’s meeting will focus on securing natural gas supplies to the country. The most important meeting awaits him with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he will discuss security, defense and economic cooperation, according to the statement.

Turkey and Hungary remain the only NATO member states that have not ratified Sweden’s entry into the North Atlantic Alliance. Hungary’s government said it would return to the issue at its next parliamentary session, which is scheduled after the summer holidays in September. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan recently said that parliament in Ankara will discuss Sweden’s request in October, in its first regular meeting after the summer holidays.

Orbán is also due to meet with the pro-Russian leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik. Along with his allies, he has long promoted the separation of Republika Srpska from Bosnia and, in addition to Orbán, he has also worked closely with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hungarian government diplomacy athletics

Roderick Glisson

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