Until the European Union and Turkey reach a new deal to stem migrant flows, Turkey cannot be expected to halt the flow of migrants towards the bloc’s external borders, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Thursday.
Migration pressure on the Greek-Turkish border is unlikely to ease until Brussels begins taking Turkey’s requests, needs and concerns seriously, Szijjártó told a press conference after a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Szijjártó said migration pressure towards Turkey was on the rise, adding that some 1.5 million Syrian internally displaced refugees had set off for the country. He said that according to Cavusoglu, Turkey was also facing increased migration pressure from the directions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Szijjártó noted that Turkey stopped 455,000 migrants last year.
He said a new deal between Turkey and the EU was especially important given that uncontrolled mass migration presented serious health risks at a time when every government measure is aimed at minimising close contact between people.
Szijjártó also said the EU and Turkey were at odds over a 6 billion euro aid package promised to Turkey to help it cope with the refugee situation, with the two sides disagreeing on how much of that aid the bloc has paid out. “What’s certain is that it’s not 6 billion,” Szijjártó said, adding that it was time for Brussels to reach an agreement with Turkey that would “settle the matter once and for all”.
Concerning energy affairs, Szijjártó said there was a realistic chance that Hungary could start importing a significant amount of natural gas via Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia from next year.
Regarding the coronavirus outbreak, Szijjártó said a Hungarian company had ordered eight tonnes of textiles from Turkey for the production of face masks. He said Cavusoglu had promised that Turkey would approve the order and ship it to Hungary before the end of the week.
Currently, 112 Hungarians are quarantined in 12 countries around the world, he said, 86 of whom are in Austria. Four of those in quarantine have tested positive for the virus, he added.
The minister added there are 4,500 Hungarian citizens who had registered for consular protection abroad.