According to der Spiegel and other media outlets, Hungary first torpedoed the European Union’s declaration condemning the Turkish military intervention in north-east Syria. While Hungarian diplomats denied this, PMO Chief Gergely Gulyás said they had agreed “in a written compromise.”
According to the German weekly which refers to several EU diplomats, Hungary was the only member who issued a veto while all other EU countries agreed. This resulted in the delay of the issue of the declaration which has eventually been accepted – with Hungary’s support – in the evening. By then, Turkish forces had already launched their attack which resulted in several casualties.
The final, agreed-upon declaration (which can be read in its entirety here) calls “…upon Turkey to cease the unilateral military action. Renewed armed hostilities in the northeast will further undermine the stability of the whole region, exacerbate civilian suffering, and provoke further displacements. Prospects for the UN-led political process to achieve peace in Syria will be more difficult.” It also says that “unilateral action on Turkey’s part threatens the progress achieved by the Global Coalition to defeat of Da’esh [ISIS].”
US President Donald Trump revealed on Monday that the US would withdraw its forces from a Kurdish-controlled zone in northern Syria. Kurdish forces, together with Syrian opposition troops (SDF), helped a US-led Western coalition to beat ISIS in Syria. The withdrawal prompted Turkish president Erdoğan to attack this area, a decision accompanied by the protest of several international actors.
Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn commented on Hungary’s decision that “it can’t be that a country like Hungary repeatedly blocks the EU on its own,” adding, that “if we can not even come up with a statement together, we’re not even a dwarf in foreign affairs, we’re nonexistent.”
Hungarian diplomats, however, denied the news. The Hungarian government’s official EC Commissioner nominee, Olivér Várhelyi, labeled the information “fake news.” At his regular press briefing on Thursday, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás stated that they “didn’t want to disrupt the unity of V4 and the EU, and therefore agreed in a documented compromise. Peace is the aim, and the Hungarian government rejects war as a tool used to sort out differences between countries. At the same time, the Hungarian Government is of the firm opinion that if Turkey takes steps to return the 4 million refugees from its territory to their own country, it must be supported,” he added.
featured image: illustration; via MTI/PM’s Press Offcie/Balázs Szecsődi