V4, Europe and Turkey - HATICE KARAHAN

V4, Europe and Turkey

I wish everybody a pleasant Eid al-Fitr. As I wish, on these holy days, to reach many more future eids in peace, brotherhood and solidarity, we will be rapidly returning to the hustle and bustle as of tomorrow. One of the topics to be followed in the week’s agenda by both the business world and economy is going to be the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Ankara visit. In this context, in addition to the official meetings, a Turkey-Hungary Business Forum – that is expected to see broad participation – is going to be held. The trade volume between the two countries has exceeded $2.1 billion, according to 2016 data, however, when we look at the development in the last few years, we also see that the relationship is on a slow rise. Yet, there is a $5-billion goal that was previously mentioned on many occasions. In this context, there is no doubt that closer cooperation is needed for relations to reach to a more active phase.

During our meeting with Hungary’s Consul General to Istanbul Balazs Henrich and Deputy Consul General Tamas Torma in recent weeks, we discussed that progressing with focus, particularly on certain strategic areas, in accordance with this aim, would be rational. At this point, I am of the opinion that it is important for the two economies to establish a win-win strategy by utilizing the common areas of focus or different expertise. The technology issue in particular, should be, in this context, one of the focus points.
Hence, the meetings to take place this week are going to be an opportunity in terms of developing Hungarian-Turkish economic relations. As I mentioned before as well, Hungary is one of Central Europe’s rising economies.

The Visegrad Group

In addition to this, there is benefit in taking a more comprehensive look at the matter. Hence, Budapest is going to be in an important rush immediately after its Ankara visit. If you ask what that rush is, it is the V4 term presidency that will be starting as of July 1.
As you know, V4 is a unity formed by Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and is identified as the Visegrad Group. It offers a political, economic and cultural platform for cooperation to the countries under it. All members of this group, founded in 1991, have, in time, become EU members and integrated with the union. However, within the scope of the Euroregion, we only see Slovakia as a member. Meanwhile, in accordance with the solidarity they show despite their differences, there is benefit in underlining that the V4 has become a strengthening bloc within the EU whose opinions are important in recent years. This point is significant especially in terms of the decision processes in the European Parliament.

In the new period, during which especially the Brexit process will start and Europe’s future will be opened to debate, the V4’s opinion and stance is going to be important for the EU. We also remember that in the recent past, members of the group in question among which some Eurosceptic objective voices were heard, gave messages on the integrity of the EU ahead of the Rome Summit in March 2017. In addition to this, it is seen that the V4 is not very open to, for example, a multi-gear EU idea. In this context, in the new destination Europe is about to take, the group makes its intention and demand in terms of being positioned as equal members obvious.

As Hungary takes over

While these days the V4 is gaining prominence for the region in this aspect, of course, every presidency term has its own specific excitement. It is possible to say that Hungary, which is going to take over the new presidential term for a year in the upcoming days, is going to take steps that will strengthen both integration in the V4 and ties with the EU. While the EU aspect of it is of particular significance for Turkey, it should be remembered that the perspective of the group that is focused on global cooperation presents an opportunity.

Because, while it is possible to politically assess cooperation with third countries that will continue in the new V4 term, it will be significant to shape this dimension economically as well. In this context, in addition to developing mutual trade ties, it needs to be remembered that a V4 agenda (of which Germany is a very close economic partner) that will take the digital revolution in the industry as its focus is going to be critical for the group in question. Eventually, being able to preserve the power to compete in Europe, which is aiming to re-industrialize, is going to hold top level importance for V4 countries – an issue that closely concerns us. For a striking example, see the automotive industry.

To summarize it, Turkey may take advantage of strengthening cooperation with the V4 within the scope of relations with the EU. Of course, at this point, while there is no doubt that the group is expected to show a constructive and supportive approach on topics such as fighting terrorism and the refugee crisis, there is benefit in thinking over the potential reflections of a reviewed and spruced-up Turkey-V4 relationship spanning EU integration and the economy. 


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