Only successful attempt to mediate war in Ukraine made by Türkiye: Hungarian foreign minister

Only successful attempt to mediate war in Ukraine made by Türkiye: Hungarian foreign minister

Ankara should also have 'enormous role' in creating an environment for peace talks, says Peter Szijjarto

By Dildar Baykan Atalay

ANKARA (AA) - Praising Ankara's efforts on the Black Sea grain deal as "the one and only successful attempt to mediate," the Hungarian foreign minister said Türkiye should have "an enormous role" in creating an environment for peace talks.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said Hungary as a neighboring country to Ukraine has faced serious and immediate impacts of the ongoing Moscow-Kyiv war since Feb. 24 last year.

Criticizing the "very strong war rhetoric" in the transatlantic world, he highlighted the urgent need for cease-fire and peace talks.

"We need here credible mediators and if you put into consideration what's happened so far, the one and only successful attempt to mediate was made by Türkiye and by the President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) himself on the grain agreement," said Szijjarto.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul last July to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began.

He said the grain deal was the only significant agreement that the two contradicting parties would make since the beginning of the war.

"So therefore, we do believe that Türkiye should have an enormous role in the upcoming period of time when it comes to creating the environment for peace talks," Szijjarto noted, adding: "We hope that this Turkish government can continue in office, and will continue its efforts to contribute to making peace in this world."

- EU reaction to Hungary over ban on Ukrainian grain

Hungary is among the EU countries that ban the import of Ukrainian grain, along with Poland and Slovakia, which is criticized by the EU, saying those decisions are "unacceptable."

About a question on Hungary's position in this regard, Szijjarto said the agreement is actually about the export of Ukrainian grain to needy countries, not about high amounts of grain exports to central European markets.

"Basically, what has been happening is a clear violation of the initial agreement," he said, adding it should have been fixed by the European Commission.

Szijjarto said they had to take steps on their own to protect Hungarian farmers and markets.

- Hungary's stance on Sweden's NATO bid

The Hungarian government has already submitted Sweden's NATO membership bill to the parliament, Szijjarto said, but added that their parliamentary group which is in a two-fold majority in the parliament is not ready yet to put it on the agenda.

Explaining the reasons behind this, Szijjarto said Swedish officials have "insulted Hungary and the Hungarian people" in recent years on a "continuous basis."

"They have accused us by not complying with common European values. They have accused us of violating the democratic standards. They have basically questioned the maturity of the Hungarian people to make a decision about their own future and they have questioned the legitimacy of the elections."

Sweden applied, along with Finland, to join NATO last year. Finland's NATO application was accepted and Stockholm is yet to realize its commitments made to Türkiye in order for Ankara to ratify its membership to the alliance.

- Accession of Türkiye to EU

Also in response to a question about Türkiye's accession process to the EU, Szijjarto said there are some countries "who may not be brave enough to announce their positions face to face."

However, he underlined that Hungary would like to create the best possible cooperation between the EU and Türkiye.

Türkiye as a "strong, stable, and rich country" and with its "strong position on security," is in the vital interest of the EU to cooperate with, he added.

"But unfortunately, because of dogmatic political reasons, there's a rejection towards that, you know, initiative of ours as well. But this rejection is not a reason for us to give it up. So, we will continue to urge for a much tighter, much more effective cooperation between Türkiye and the European Union than now."

- Enhanced Strategic Partnership

Türkiye and Hungary have increased the dynamism of bilateral relations since the current Turkish administration has been in power, Szijjarto stressed.

"I remember when this administration has taken over, the trade volume was less than $1 billion and now we are very close to $4 billion," he noted, saying there were no Turkish investments in Hungary, while a series of Turkish companies are currently investing in Hungary."

He went on to say that the Enhanced Strategic Partnership means even more coordinated political cooperation and tighter cooperation in the economy.

"Our approach to important issues is absolutely similar, and we strengthen the positions of each other," added Szijjarto.

- Hungarian's observer status in OTS

In response to a question regarding ties with the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) in which Hungary has observer status, Szijjarto recalled that his country opened the European Representation Office of the OTS and created the Drought Prevention Institute of the OTS in Budapest.

Saying that the world should not be building blocs, so a possible Cold War period is avoided, he stressed the important role of the OTS in creating a bridge between Asia, the Caucasian region, Türkiye, and Europe.

"We think that this is something that is needed from the perspective of a better and more peaceful future. So, we always rely (on) and refer to the OTS as a bridge and as a hope for a peaceful future."

OTS members are Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, while the EU member Hungary, as well as Turkmenistan and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, have observer status.

On relations between Hungarians and the Turkic people, he said they are referred to as "the most Eastern Westerners and the most Western Easterners."

Hungarians are proud of their history, heritage, and connection to the Eastern world, he also said.

"We consider the Turkic countries, Turkic nations as brothers and sisters to us because we do believe that our common cultural heritage come from the common past," he added.

- Togg

Referring to Togg, Türkiye's first indigenous electric car, Szijjarto said it showed how the Turkish economy "has developed so much."

"Because in case of having a national automotive industry means that economy is on a next level."

He went on to say that he knows what kind of efforts must be made in order to reach such a position, producing its own car.

"I think that the Turkish people can be proud on themselves in legitimate way, because there's just a very limited number of nations in the world which can produce car in its entirety," added Szijjarto.

On his personal Togg experience, he said it is very comfortable, very modern, very quick, and very silent, suggesting that Ankara "should look at the Hungarian market as well, because if the price is considerable, ... this car can be competitive to the well-known Western brands as well."

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