May 04 2019

Hungary says EU should offer Turkey ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’

If Turkey’s full membership to the European Union is impossible, then the bloc should instead offer Ankara a "comprehensive strategic partnership," Hungary's foreign minister said on Friday, the Associated Press reported

Peter Szijjarto said during a joint press conference with his Turkish counterparts Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the Hungarian capital that his counterparts from some of the larger EU members rejected Turkey's membership at closed-door meetings, but did not 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?" the AP quoted Szijjarto as saying. 

"If membership is impossible ... let's talk then about a comprehensive strategic partnership which will add to Europe economically, in terms of defence and in trade," the Hungarian minister said. 

Turkey has officially been a candidate to join the EU since 1999. Accession negotiations started in October 2005 but stalled in 2016 shortly after the two sides reached agreement to stem the refugee crisis, despite accelerated membership talks being one of the deal’s conditions.

Turkey also has a customs union agreement with the EU which came into effect in January 1996 and the bilateral trade between two sides has increased to $150 billion from $37 billion over the 23 years since. Turkey also sees the upgrading of the customs union a priority to further extend the bilateral trade relations to areas such as services, public procurement and sustainable development.