The foreign minister said it is in Hungary’s national interest for the EU-Turkey customs union to be updated.
After meeting Turkish industry and technology minister Mustafa Varank in Ankara, Péter Szijjártó told a joint press conference that Hungary wanted free and fair trade, which would be best served by the most comprehensive possible economic and trade cooperation between the bloc and Turkey. The ministr noted that Turkey’s economy is the world’s 18th largest and it was on track to becoming among the 10 largest.
Despite the global economic downturn, Hungarian-Turkish trade has remained buoyant this year, estimated to be worth 3 billion US dollars by year-end, he said. In terms of central European energy security and the diversification of Hungarian gas supplies, Turkey is an important partner, he said, adding that Hungary will be able to buy Caspian gas from the south via Turkey once the 15km pipeline over the Hungarian-Serbian border is ready from October 2021.
Meanwhile, Hungary’s Eximbank has established a 100 million US dollar credit line to finance bilateral business cooperation, and VakifBank will soon have a presence in Hungary. Also, Turkish Airlines Cargo, one of the world’s largest air cargo companies, will increase the number of flights from Budapest to Istanbul from three to four times a week, and it is also making Budapest its eastern European headquarters. Further, an agreement on transport permits and a reduction in waiting times for lorries has also been signed, the minister added. The two ministers today signed the minutes of the 7th meeting of the Hungarian-Turkish Joint Economic Committee.
According to MTI, the minister added that the European Union’s security is still largely in Turkey’s hands He said Brussels should pay Turkey in full the 6 billion euros it committed to under the 2016 migration agreement. According to Turkey, the EU has paid 3.8-3.9 billion euros so far and according to Brussels, slightly more than 4 billion euros have been transferred, he added.
The EU must meet its contracted obligation in order to have the right to expect Turkey to keep under control some 4 million migrants staying in its territory, he said.
Without Turkey’s help, the Western Balkans would be fast overrun by hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants and they would make their way to Hungary’s southern borders, Minister Szijjártó said.
Hungary will certainly protect its borders but it would be best to avoid such a situation, he said. Hungary pursues a clear migration policy and is unwilling to take in illegal migrants, maintaining the right to decide with whom Hungarians want to let in and live with, he added.
Hungary is ready to help the EU and Turkey develop more successful relations and to help Turkey and certain European countries resolve conflicts through talks, he said.
The minister said the pandemic heightened the dangers of migration, which he said were a health as well as a security risk. Uncontrolled migration involves the risk of the virus spreading fast, Minister Szijjártó added.
Photo credit: Magyar Hírlap