A closer partnership than ever before is needed between the European Union and Turkey, as this would also help improve the continent’s physical and energy security and its deteriorating competitiveness, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in Budapest on Friday.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, the minister said it was a great honor and a friendly gesture that Hakan Fidan’s first trip after his appointment was to Hungary, and this, he said, was proof of the strategic relationship between the two countries.
He pointed out that in the new geopolitical and global economic era, Turkey is more important than ever before, as it is crucial for the security of Hungary and Europe as a whole, both in terms of physical and energy security.
“We Hungarians are in a special geographical situation, with war in the east and migration in the south posing security challenges. The fact is that when we face the migration challenge from the south, we see that the Brussels policy is constantly increasing the migration pressure on the southern border, so there is a great need for Turkey to reduce this,” he stressed.
If Turkey did not take its own border protection seriously, if Turkey did not keep the millions of migrants already living there, it would put unmanageable pressure on the external border of the European Union, and therefore also on the external border of Hungary,”
In this context, he praised Ankara’s policy to stem the flow of migrants, also entailing a heavy financial burden. “We can understand this because we have already spent hundreds of billions of forints on the protection of our southern border, of which the European Union has reimbursed a total of one percent,” he said.
Péter Szijjártó then pointed out that Turkey’s role is also crucial for Hungary’s energy security, as Russian natural gas now largely comes through the Turkish Stream pipeline, without which supply would be completely impossible.
This is further proof that energy supply is a physical issue, not a political one, nor an ideological one,”
The minister welcomed the fact that already this year, more than two billion cubic meters of natural gas have arrived in Hungary via this transit route, greatly helping to prepare for winter. He pointed out that the storage capacity in Hungary now covers more than 48 percent of annual consumption, compared to the EU average of 25 percent.
He pointed out that Turkey is a key player in the diversification of supply, as it is not only involved in the supply of natural gas from Azerbaijan, but direct purchases from Turkey are also negotiated.
He added that
close cooperation had been agreed to in the field of nuclear energy as well, especially given that Turkey and Hungary are building a power plant with the same technology and the same contractor, so it is important to exchange experience.
The politician stressed that Turkey could become one of the world’s ten largest economies in the future, and that the EU therefore badly needs this cooperation, as the continent’s competitiveness is steadily weakening and it would be a “huge luxury” to let close ties with an emerging neighbor go to waste.
“This is why we are calling for cooperation between the EU and Turkey to be based once again on respect and sincerity, and for a closer partnership than ever before between the parties, as this would help to improve Europe’s physical and energy security and our competitiveness,” he said,
stressing the importance of modernizing the customs union and granting visa-free travel as soon as possible.
Finally, he touched on the war in Ukraine, expressing his gratitude to the Turkish leadership, which alone has been able to mediate successfully between the parties in bringing the cereals agreement to a successful conclusion last year.
In response to questions from journalists, Szijjártó replied that
the Hungarian and Turkish governments had kept each other informed about the ratification process for Swedish membership of NATO, and would continue to do so in the coming period.
He said that the date of the vote would be decided by the majority in Parliament, and that the government had already put forward its proposal.
With regard to the Koran burnings in Denmark and Sweden, he stressed that
the Hungarian government considers the desecration of books and symbols of any religion unacceptable.
“To invoke freedom of expression when burning the holy books of any religion is not only unacceptable, but also outrageously cynical. And I think it is a legitimate expectation of every government, every state, every country here in Europe to stop the desecration of religious symbols,” he said.
Featured image: Facebook/Szijjártó Péter