“The countries of the Visegrád Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia; the V4), have agreed that close cooperation of a strategic nature is required with Turkey”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a video published on this social media page on Friday.

Following a videoconference with the foreign ministers of the V4 countries on relations between the European Union and Turkey, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted: “During the coronavirus epidemic, we were also able to experience that good relations with Turkey can help protect against the virus”. Hungary also imported protective equipment and materials from Turkey.

“Cooperation with Turkey is also necessary because it will soon be among the world’s ten largest economies”, he continued. “The countries of Central European have open economies, and can obviously not allow themselves the luxury of leaving the world’s most rapidly developing economy out of our export markets”, he stated.

“We also have identical interests concerning energy issues that are closely linked to the economy”, he added. “The countries of Central Europe use nuclear energy to provide part of their countries’ electricity supply, and Turkey is also committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, in Western Europe and certain European institutions they are calling into question the importance of nuclear energy and the fact that member states should be allowed to use it”, he stated. “In our view, however, the distribution of energy sources within a country’s energy supply falls within a national sphere of competence”, he added.

The Minister said that in his opinion cooperation within the field of nuclear energy will form an important part of relations between Turkey and Central Europe, while the most important element of cooperation between the European Union and Turkey is curbing illegal migration. “If Turkey does not stop the waves of migration passing through it in the direction of Europe, and if migrants are able to break through the Turkish-Greek border, then they will appear at Hungary’s southern border within a matter of days”, he said.
For this reason, Mr. Szijjártó is calling for the European Union to pay Turkey the promised 6 billion euros because, as he explained, this is a small sum compared to the damage that would be cause by uncontrolled waves of migration.

The Minister stressed that migration no longer only poses a risk to security and culture, but in view of the coronavirus epidemic it now also poses a major health risk. He called on the foreign ministers of the other the Visegrád Group countries to confirm their standpoint according to which the countries of Central Europe will not accept quotas and will continue to refuse to admit illegal migrants. According to Mr. Szijjártó’s report, his V4 counterparts duly confirmed this.
Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that European institutions and Brussels “are once again concerned with developing a European compact for migration”. “Migration must be stopped, not managed”, he declared, adding: “Assistance must be taken to where the trouble is, meaning we must eliminate the root causes of migration”.

During the videoconference, the Minister reported on his visit to Malta on Thursday, during which he stated: “Hungary supports the Maltese proposal according to which the Libyan coast guard must be reinforced with the help of European Union resources, to enable it to prevent migrants from boarding ships bound for Europe”. He also reported on the fact that the European Union is renegotiating its agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Ocean regions, which according to the Minister the Western European countries also regarded as important because it affords a kind of “legal channel” for people who have come to Europe from these regions to work.
However, Mr. Szijjártó recommends the rethinking of Europe’s position and this agreement in view of the fact that hundreds of thousands of European have become unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and “European countries must primarily provide jobs for their own citizens”. The Minister also said that the Czech presidency of the V4 will soon be expiring, and Poland will be taking over the rotating presidency beginning in July.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)