Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto calls for ‘closest ever partnership’ of EU, Turkiye

The partnership between the European Union and Turkiye must be "closer than ever" to boost the continent's physical and energy security, and improve its ailing competitiveness, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Friday, after meeting his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan.
29. July 2023 7:53

Szijjarto told a joint press conference after the talks that it was a “great honour and friendly gesture… and proof of strategic relations” that Hungary was the first country Hadan visited after he was appointed foreign minister.

Turkiye’s weight in the world is larger than ever in the “new geopolitical and world economic era”, and the country is key to the physical and energy security of Hungary and the whole of Europe, Szijjarto said. “As with its politics Brussels is constantly increasing migration pressure on our southern border, it is highly important that Turkiye should mitigate it,” he said, according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

“Should Turkiye not take border protection seriously, should it not keep the some million migrants there, the pressure on the external borders of the EU, and so on Hungary, would become unbearable,” he said.

Szijjarto praised Ankara’s migrant policy, noting the financial burden posed by related border protection measures. “We can understand this problem because we have also spent several hundreds of billions of forints on border protection, and got only 1 percent of it reimbursed by the EU,” the foreign minister said.

Turkiye is also of paramount importance in terms of Hungary’s energy security, as most of Russian natural gas imported by the country arrives via the TurkStream pipeline, he said. Without that, meeting Hungary’s energy demands would become impossible, he said.

Hungary has received some 2 billion cubic metres of gas via TurkStream this year already, a great boost to winter reserves, said Szijjarto. Hungary’s gas reserves are 48 percent full, compared with the EU’s average of 25 percent, he said. Talks are under way on Hungary’s direct purchases from Turkiye, which would make Turkiye inevitable when diversifying Hungarian energy resources, the foreign minister said.

An agreement was also reached on a close cooperate in the nuclear energy sector, he said, highlighting the importance of experience exchange especially because the two countries are simultaneously constructing nuclear power plants that are using the same technology, he said.

Europe, with its waning competitiveness, needs cooperation with Turkiye, which could soon become one of the ten largest economies in the world, he said. Letting such a relationship wither would be a “huge luxury”, he added.

“That is why we call for returning to mutual respect and honesty in EU-Turkiye cooperation, and to forge a partnership stronger than ever…”, Szijjarto said.

Szijjarto also called for updating the EU-Turkiye customs union and to grant Turkish citizens a visa waiver as soon as possible.

The minister also touched on the war in Ukraine, saying that the conflict had “no solution on the battlefield” and thanking Turkiye for “the only successful mediation in last year’s grain exports deal”.

Regarding protests in Denmark and Sweden where demonstrators burnt copies of the Q’ran, Szijjarto said Hungary’s government saw the desecration of books and symbols of any religion as “unacceptable”. “Citing freedom of expression when holy books of any religion are being burnt is not only unacceptable but outrageously cynical. I think it is a reasonable expectation towards every government here in Europe that they prevent the desecration of religious symbols,” he said.

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