Hungary’s foreign and trade minister Péter Szijjártó has said that it is in the country’s national interest to support Turkey’s military offensive in northwest Syria as it will help to solve the migration crisis, the Hungarian press has reported.
Speaking at the Turkic Council in Baku, Azerbaijan, Mr Szijjártó reiterated his government’s position to support Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The Hungarian national interest is to avoid another several hundreds of thousands or several million migrants appearing at the Hungarian border, as well as to avoid their forceful removal,” he told reporters.
Following a US military pullout from northwest Syria, the Turkish president last week launched a military campaign ostensibly to eradicate terrorism. However, the Turkish army has also been targeting Kurdish fighters, who fought on the US side against Islamic State, the terrorist organisation destabilising the region.
The Turkish president said that the aim of the offensive was to return around four million Syrian refugees, who are currently in Turkish refugee camps, to their homeland. At the same time, however, local NGOs reported that several Kurdish civilians had been shot dead by Turkish forces.
The Hungarian government came under harsh criticism after it was the only European country to veto an EU resolution that would have condemned Mr Erdogan’s move to target Kurdish citizens.
“If these four million migrants head to Europe, then they will have to be stopped at the southern border of Hungary and it would be better to avoid that,” Mr Szijjártó stressed.
Also during the Turkic Summit, where the Turkish president thanked Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán for his support, the Hungarian leader announced that Hungary’s close-to-government Eximbank would be providing a roughly 400 million US dollars loan package for bilateral cooperation with the countries of the alliance to boost foreign trade.
In response to Turkey’s decision to target the Kurds, Czech foreign minister Tomáš Petříček announced that the country would join other EU countries in suspending weapons exports to the Turkish government, against whom the European bloc is now considering introducing sanctions.