Authoritarian Turkish President Recep Erdoğan could have hardly asked for a better coup. Apparently launched by a faction within the military at night (an odd time to launch a putsch in a country where these have, in the past, usually happened in the morning and involved the arrest of political leaders), the coup was put down within about five hours; but not before at least 161 people were killed and almost 3,000 soldiers arrested. President Erdoğan, who had a tense relationship with the military, which sees itself as safeguarding secularism and the Turkish constitution from a political leader whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) is more socially conservative and allows for a greater role for Islam in the state, can now proceed with what he has wanted to do all along: purge the military. With some 3,000 soldiers and military personnel arrested, and with the president promising swift and merciless retribution for all those involved in the failed coup, European Union and American leaders who were quick to declare support for the democratically elected, but hardly democratic Turkish leader should be worried. In 2013, when 3.5 million Turks protested against the government’s censorship and excessive use of police force, the heavy-handed response resulted in 11 fatalities and 8,000 people injured.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government was not only quick to announce that it fully supports President Erdoğan, but enthusiastically added that those who led the coup were terrorists and that Hungary seeks closer ties with the Turkish government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, gave a press conference at Liszt Ferenc International Airport in Budapest, the morning after the coup. He noted that 175 Hungarian citizens presently residing in Turkey have registered with Hungary’s consular officials in Ankara and Instanbul in the hours following the unrest. Consular officials have opened a 24-hour hotline in Turkey and the minister is encouraging all Hungarians in the country to remain indoors, in their place of residence, and to register with Hungary’s consular staff, if they have not already done so.
“If possible, we must now seek even closer ties with Turkey’s democratic-elected government and president,” said Mr. Szijjártó, who had just arrived back in Budapest from a trip to Mongolia. He added that Hungary is pleased to note that the current Turkish president is “the guarantee of stability.” Mr. Szijjártó then proceeded to suggest that those involved in the coup were terrorists, noting that “the event can be considered a terrorist attack.”
Mr. Szijjártó added that while there was fighting in the street immediately next to Hungary’s embassy in Ankara, nobody was hurt in the mission.
On another, but equally relevant topic for Europe and the world: the Orbán government, speaking about the horrific terrorist attack in Nice, which killed 84 people on Thursday night, Lajos Kósa, the leader of Fidesz’s caucus in parliament, declared that terrorism and migration are connected. “What else has to occur for the European Union’s leaders in Brussels to realize that their migration policy is unsustainable?”–asked Mr. Kósa.
As we know (and as Hungary’s government knows as well), the terrorist attacker behind the tragedy in Nice was a 31 year old French national of Tunisian origin by the name of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. He had nothing to do with the current migrant and refugee crisis.