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Hungary's Orban Praises Turkish Offensive In Syria, Says It Will Help Prevent Refugee Flood

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (file photo)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has praised Turkey’s military incursion in Syria and said it will help prevent another flood of refugees seeking to flee to Europe.

The far-right leader on October 25 said the European Union should give financial assistance to Turkey to help develop infrastructure in the new Turkish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria.

Otherwise, he told Hungarian public radio, "more than 3 million migrants" could leave Turkey and head to Europe on the Balkan route.

"A hundred thousand will then go to Greece from Turkey, from Greece to the Balkans, and from the Balkans to either the Hungarian or Croatian borders," he said.

Ankara launched the military offensive on October 9 to push U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces back from its border and to create a "safe zone" -- where it plans to settle some of the 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey.

Turkey's assault against Kurdish fighters, whom Turkey regards as terrorists, began after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region earlier this month.

Russia and Turkey have agreed to joint patrols in areas previously controlled by the Kurdish forces and their U.S. allies.

Turkey was subjected to some harsh criticism at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on October 24.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Turkey's incursion "unwarranted," yet the NATO members recognized there was little they could do to punish their strategically important ally.

Orban has developed close links with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who personally thanked Orban for his "support" at a meeting in Kazakhstan last week. The two are to meet in Budapest on November 7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Hungary next week.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa