Commentary: Hungary is practicing smart diplomacy in talks with Erdoğan

The alternative to discussions is shooting.

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: László Szőcs

Several opposition groups may have protested on Thursday against the official visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Hungary. but these groups are offering dangerous alternatives to reasoned diplomacy.

Where there are no talks, there is shooting, former German Social Democratic politician Egon Bahr once famously said.

This quote is topical now after the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) protested against Erdoğan’s visit. The opposition not only complained about high-ranking officials receiving Erdoğan but also over the fact that police did not allow them to mount a street exhibition of photographs labeling Erdoğan a “half-Asian dictator” and a “war criminal”.

No doubt about it, these are strong words from the opposition. But it is also somewhat understandable why the DK could not swallow this visit. The opposition party itself has no proper notions of either democracy or coalition-building. In a democratic state such as Hungary’s, the country’s leaders decide who to receive, not callers from phone-in radio shows. At the same time, police must ensure public order, especially during important diplomatic visits.

Furthermore, Hungary and Turkey are both parts of a larger coalition fighting the Islamic State in the Middle East. Turkey also has the second-largest army in NATO, an alliance much praised by the DK.

Just like during the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the opposition is using reasonable diplomatic policy to attack Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, seemingly forgetting that only international courts have the right to establish who is a war criminal.

It is true that Turkish domestic politics and the country’s intervention in Syria raise a number of questions, but these questions are being raised by the officials whose job it is to do so and in the proper diplomatic forum. During Erdoğan’s visit to Berlin last year, there were no less than nine demonstrations and his visit next week to Washington is also expected to be highly controversial.

But let us not pretend that Trump is meeting with Erdoğan because the Turkish leader has a winning personality. They are meeting because the two largest NATO countries have much to discuss regarding the dangerous situation in Syria.

Similarly, Hungary also has its stake in Syria’s ongoing conflict, including its strong interest in preventing millions of migrants from flooding Europe. Hungarian foreign policy has a basic tenet: The country has always lived in a triangle defined by Berlin, Moscow and Istanbul. That is a reality that Hungary has to live with despite what the opposition may naively believe.

The word diplomacy is not a dirty one. Liberals should consider adding the word to their dictionary. They would also do well to remember that if the world were a perfect place, we wouldn’t need diplomats, only spa workers, ski trainers, and fitness instructors.

Title image: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a joint press conference in Budapest on Nov. 7. (MTI/Zsolt Szigetváry)


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