Hungary says EU shouldn’t ‘mislead’ Turkey about membership
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The European Union should stop “misleading” Turkey about its prospects of membership in the bloc and instead offer it a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” Hungary’s foreign minister said Friday.
Peter Szijjarto, who was hosting his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that his counterparts from some of the larger EU members reject Turkey’s membership at closed-door meetings, but don’t say so publicly.
“If this is the position of certain countries, then why don’t they talk about it publicly and why do they mislead the Turks with something that isn’t going to happen?” said Szijjarto.
“If membership is impossible ... let’s talk then about a comprehensive strategic partnership which will add to Europe economically, in terms of defense and in trade,” Szijjarto added.
Szijjarto also praised Turkey’s role in preventing some 4.5 million migrants, mostly Syrians, currently in Turkey from migrating to Europe, saying “Europe’s security today begins in Turkey.”
Cavusoglu told reporters that Turkey and the United States are trying to work out a date for a possible visit to Turkey by President Donald Trump, amid a deepening rift between the NATO allies over Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. The U.S. says the S-400 system poses a threat to the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program of which Turkey is also a partner.
“Turkish-U.S. relations are not just linked to the F-35 or S-400,” Cavusoglu said. “We have several regional and bilateral issues to discuss, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.”
Cavusoglu repeated that Turkey does not believe that the Russian system would pose a threat to the F-35 fighter jet program, and added that Turkey has proposed the establishment of a joint committee to review any possible risks.
Cavusoglu also thanked Szijjarto and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for “representing Turkey’s rights everywhere.”
Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.