Turkey and Hungary have made good cooperation during the coronavirus pandemic, the Turkish foreign minister said Thursday.

Speaking at the Hungarian Ambassadors Conference in Budapest, Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Only countries with strong institutional capacity and public trust were able to deal with the crisis more effectively, as we both know in Turkey and Hungary.”

Cavusoglu said COVID-19 spread around the world “at a time when the multilateral system was already very weak,” adding that it took 100 days for the UN Security Council to take the pandemic on its agenda.

Everyone is concerned that the pandemic may trigger a new migration flow, he noted.

The pandemic has also deepened the inequality around the world, added Cavusoglu, saying: “According to the World Bank, an additional 100 million people fell to poverty because of the pandemic.”

He said migration will always be a part of our lives as long as the push factors forcing people to risk their lives continue to exist.

Although the irregular migration should be controlled more effectively, “we must now address the root causes of migration. Poverty, underdevelopment, climate change, conflicts, and civil wars are just a few of them,” Cavusoglu added.

Turkey filters threats from EU’s neighborhood

Cavusoglu recalled his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto’s words during a visit to Ankara in December: “Turkey’s security is Europe’s security.”

The Turkish foreign minister also said Europe is not living in an ivory tower, yet it is also shielded from most of the crises that exist in its neighborhood.

“It is because Europe starts in Turkey, and because with its strong institutions and state capacity, Turkey filters threats and shocks from Europe’s unstable neighborhood,” he said.

Some members abuse EU solidarity

Cavusoglu also thanked Hungary for rejecting calls to impose sanctions on Turkey, during the EU leaders’ summit in December.

“The truth is, some members abuse the EU solidarity to further their narrow interests. The result is both the EU and Turkey miss the chance to make a real strategic change,” said Cavusoglu.

He recalled Turkey’s efforts to manage migration to Europe in 2015, saying: “It is thanks to our cooperation that one of the biggest challenges in the history of the EU was managed.”

“Remember also that Europe owes its prosperity to the security umbrella provided by NATO during the Cold War, when Turkey has served as a strong ally in the eastern and southern flanks. The list is certainly longer,” he added.

Cavusoglu said there is a new opportunity to turn the page in Turkey and EU relations before the EU Summit in March.

“As [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made it clear, the EU accession is our strategic objective. And this cannot be a solo performance.”

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