Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria needs to be viewed with Hungary’s national interests in mind, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told pro-Fidesz news channel HírTV on Wednesday ahead of the Fidesz party meeting following the local elections.
“This is not a conflict that’s distant from and irrelevant to Hungary where we can choose sides based on sympathy,” he argued.
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More than three million migrants and refugees have fled from Syria into Turkey, the prime minister said, adding that Turkey would have to decide what to do with them over the coming weeks.
Either the Turkish authorities could decide to return them to Syria or to set them off toward Europe, Orbán said. “If Turkey chooses the latter option then these people will arrive at Hungary’s southern border in huge numbers.”
He said this was why he recommended that the European Union should provide financial aid to Turkey so that it could build cities in Syria with a view to sending the migrants and refugees there. Otherwise, Orbán added, these people will end up in Europe and Hungary is in a different situation than the European countries that are not adjacent to the Balkan migration route. “They’re safe because we’re protecting them,” he said.
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The prime minister warned that the current developments in Syria could soon have consequences in Hungary as well, given that it is an EU border country.
Orbán said there were currently 90,000 people trying to make their way to the EU via the Balkan route, adding that their numbers would soon reach 100,000.
“And if Turkey adds hundreds of thousands more to this wave, we’ll have to secure the protection of the Hungarian-Serbian section of the border by force,” he said.
Featured photo illustration by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press Office