Turkey, Europe

Turkey is guarantor of EU security: Hungary

Hungary’s top diplomat urges EU to take softer line on issues with Turkey, recognizing its key role in EU security

Agnes Szucs   | 10.01.2020
Turkey is guarantor of EU security: Hungary Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Peter Szijjarto ( Erkin Keçi - Anadolu Agency )

BRUSSELS

Hungary’s foreign minister asked the new EU foreign policy chief to use softer language on Turkey, as it safeguards European security, Peter Szijjarto told reporters in Brussels after an extraordinary meeting of EU ministers on Friday. 

“We have a way more complex relationship with Turkey,” Szijjarto said he had told Josep Borrell, who took up his role as the EU's top diplomat in December.

Stressing Turkey’s pivotal role for the EU, including the 2016 migrant deal between Turkey and the bloc, he added: “Turkey is the guarantor of EU’s security, it halts migration and is a member of the NATO as well.”

Even as Turkey and the EU have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, Hungary has traditionally praised Turkey’s role in EU affairs.

At their meeting, EU foreign ministers discussed recent developments in both Libya and Iraq. Prior to that, various European leaders and EU officials urged a diplomatic solution and rejected what they called “foreign interference” in the Libyan conflict.  

Libya, Iran, Iraq

Borrell on Tuesday criticized the military aid Turkey offered to Libya’s UN-recognized government as “foreign interference that the EU rejects.”

Turkey says it is helping Libya’s internationally recognized government at the request of Tripoli, also arguing that interference by other countries has not drawn criticism.

On Jan. 2, Turkey’s parliament passed a motion allowing the government to send troops to Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been besieged by forces of Khalifa Haftar. The warlord supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates has made significant advances in recent weeks.

Since the ouster of late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

According to Szijjarto, Turkey and Russia are the key actors in Libya.

“The EU is currently not a player, but is trying to get back into the game,” he added.

He said the EU’s most important goal is to make the international community respect the UN arms embargo.

At the meeting, Ghassan Salame, the UN special representative for Libya, briefed EU ministers on the growing threat of terrorism that the influx of fighters from Syria and Sudan pose, saying around 700,000 migrants in Libya might soon decide to leave for Europe due to the conflict.

The EU foreign ministers also discussed the U.S.-Iran tension and Iraq’s security situation in the wake of last week’s U.S. killing of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani in Iraq.

Borrell was given a strong mandate to contribute to de-escalation in the region and reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to a regional political solution. He expressed his regret on the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, but said he hoped Iran would return to the deal.

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