Turkey has to immediately end its recently launched military campaign in northwest Syria, withdraw its forces from the area and respect international humanitarian law, Donald Tusk, the outgoing president of the European Council has said in his last speech addressing the European Parliament.
“Any other course means unacceptable human suffering, a victory for Daʼesh and a serious threat to European security,” Mr Tusk stressed.
While the EU Council president did not mention him by name, the criticism was directed at Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who was the only EU leader to openly support the Turkish offensive.
Mr Tusk’s statement comes after Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, vetoed a resolution aimed at condemning Turkey’s actions and eventually let it passed only after tensions in the region escalated.
Following a US military pullout from Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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.
Speaking in an interview on October 20, Johann Wadephul, the deputy parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany’s ruling party said that the Hungarian government’s support for the offensive questioned the country’s membership in the European bloc.
“We would like Hungary to make it clear which team the country plays in or it might be faced with leaving the European Union one day,” the CDU politician told German broadcaster ZDF, adding that Hungary is only reaping the benefits of being an EU member state without fulfilling its obligations.
On October 17, the Hungarian PM, who argued that the Turkish offensive was needed to reduce migration pressure on Europe, said that Hungarian authorities might use force if Turkey sends the four million Syrian refugees it currently accommodates to Europe instead of relocating them to their home country.