After meeting Turkey’s education minister, Mahmut Özer, on Friday, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said the government’s goal was to make Hungarian higher education competitive internationally, so it must be made attractive to foreign students. At a joint press conference, Szijjártó said the government had been working on making its higher education system competitive since 2010, and Hungary is now the 12th most popular foreign destination for Turkish students, with more than 1,000 attending courses here this year. Also, 16 Hungarian universities have Turkish partners with a constant exchange of lecturers and students. Two universities run a Turkology department, while Hungarian studies are available at Ankara University, he noted. Cooperation will be broadened to encompass secondary education as well, with an improvement in the quality of vocational training on the cards, he said. The sides signed a higher education cooperation agreement for the period 2023-2025. The government is increasing the number of scholarship places available to Turkish students from 150 to 200 each year, and medical and nuclear training is also included in the agreement. Szijjártó called Hungary-Turkey ties “strategic”, and, referring to the war in Ukraine, said relations were all the more important in current times of uncertainty. Turkey, he added, was the only country to have taken “promising steps towards peace” by shepherding the deal to resume grain deliveries to Ukraine, and he said Hungary requested that Turkey carry on pursuing its mediation efforts with the aim of ending the war as soon as possible. Responding to a question about the withdrawal of Hungary’s Erasmus funding in 2024, the minister said “new symptoms of Hungarianophobia are starting to appear” in the European Commission. He dismissed the decision to suspend funds for Hungarian universities run by foundation as “outrageous and without grounds whatsoever”. Szijjártó said people with government positions and responsibilities sat on the boards of western European universities, yet in Hungary’s case this was seen as a problem, and he said this amounted to “double standards”. Further, Hungary, when drawing up its conflict-of-interest guidelines, had adhered to EC rules in their entirety, he added. Meanwhile, on the subject of the planned big increase in transit fees for oil shipments in Croatia, the minister said Hungarian oil and gas company MOL had concluded a temporary three-month agreement regarding the matter, and hopefully fair long-term agreement would be reached in the meantime. The government is prepared to turn to the European authorities if attempts in this direction do not succeed, he added.