Hungary may look like a rather odd country in the Organization of Turkic States, but there are some reasons why Orban feels at home among this diverse collection of autocrats.
Of course, one of these reasons is the distance from the civilized world due to the choice of Orban to partner with Russia.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán interrupted this year’s National Day celebrations on March 15 because he had to pack for a trip south to attend an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) in Ankara, a loose alliance of Turkic-speaking Islamic countries consisting of four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan – plus Turkey, with Hungary, Turkmenistan, and Northern Cyprus having observer status.
This is a grouping where Hungary, an EU and NATO member with a strongly pro-Christian policy in recent years, is undoubtedly an odd member. But it is also where Orban feels more and more at home.
He addresses his OTS colleagues, mostly autocrats, not as friends but as “brothers.” And they meet regularly: only four months ago, Orbán, two of his ministers, and a delegation of 60 businessmen arrived in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to attend the ninth OTS summit.
Orbán is trying to find new allies in other parts of the world as he comes under pressure from Europe for his pro-Russian stance amid the EU sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine. However, this could turn out to be a catastrophe for Hungary. Supporting Russia might lead to Hungary’s degradation along with the Kremlin instead of progressing with Europe.
This could lead to sanctions being imposed on Hungary and reduced economic ties with the EU. For Hungary, relations with Europe are fundamental, and Hungarians should consider whether they want to choose the path of stability with Europe or decline with Russia.