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Hungarian minister thinks cooperation between Brussels and Ankara should be deepened

Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, has made a statement confirming his country’s support for Turkey against terrorist attacks, Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit reported on 4 March. Szijjarto criticized and set Hungary apart from those European voices which he accuses of showing too much interest in the legal rights of those involved in the 15 July coup, and called for more cooperation with Turkey.

The Minister’s words will come as a welcome show of support for President Erdogan’s government, whose relationship with the European Union has become increasingly fraught over recent years. In November 2016, the European Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to freeze the EU accession process for Turkey on account of the country’s post-July 2016 coup crackdown.

Meanwhile, issues related to migration remain both complex and tense, with EU member states nervous about the potential influx of refugees from Turkey, which hosts close to 3 million. This is a particular area of concern for Hungary, which lies on a land route taken by refugees through Europe and has sparked controversy with its hard-line stance towards them.

Evaluating his country’s relations with Turkey in a conversation with the Hungarian news agency MTI, Szijjarto emphasized that Hungary remained Turkey’s friend and ally, and extended support for the government’s response to the 15 July coup attempt.

Szijjarto also stressed that his country drew no distinctions between any bodies accepted by the international public as terrorist organizations, stating that “a terrorist organization is a terrorist organization, and must be fought against.” Turkey is currently involved in a number of conflicts with groups registered as terrorist organizations, including the PKK and ISIS.

The Minister commented more generally on Turkey-EU relations, emphasizing the need for deepened cooperation and emphasizing the importance of stability in Turkey for both Hungary and the EU generally. “Europe’s stability starts in Turkey,” said Szijjarto. “Therefore the cooperation between Brussels and Ankara should be deepened, for while Turkey’s competitive power is recovering in a dynamic fashion, the EU’s is breaking down.”

Mike Kenson

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