“Hungary is practicing a strategy that helps Middle Eastern Christian communities who have been displaced from their homes to return to the land of their birth, and enables those who have remained at home to lead a life that is fit for human beings”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in Brussels on Monday at the third international conference on the victims of ethnic and religious conflicts in the Middle East.

In a statement to Hungarian journalists, the Minister said Hungary will be continuing the Middle East policy it has already begun, within the framework of which it has already provided in excess of three billion forints (EUR 9.5 million) for the construction of schools and the refurbishment of hospitals in the region, in addition to which it is running a scholarship programme for young Middle Eastern Christians.

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He drew attention to those who have been forced to leave their homelands because of their religion, and who continue to be persecuted today. Mr. Szijjártó said that with respect to the future a positive achievement would be if we succeeded in creating the opportunity for everyone, including Christians, who have been forced to leave areas occupied by the Islamic State terrorist organisation to return to their homes now that ISIS has been pushed back. He highlighted the fact that Hungary is contributing 200 military personnel to the global coalition’s successful fight against the Islamic State. Thanks to these military operations, ISIS has lost 98 percent of the areas it forcibly occupied, but this gives rise to a new challenge. Because the question is, will processes that help people return home begin in the region, or ones that give rise to yet more security challenges. If we are unsuccessful in helping the locals return home, then the vacated areas could once again become the bases of the terrorist organisation, Mr. Szijjártó underlined.

“Accordingly, the security of the region and Europe require the international community to help Christian communities return to the regions where they have lived for centuries. For this reason, Hungary is expecting the community to provide the security and financial guarantees necessary to enable them to return home, and for the situation to be suitable for everyday life”, he added.

The Minister highlighted the fact that Hungary is providing 460 million forints (EUR 1.46 million) to Lebanon for the renovation of 33 Christian churches and holy sites, and on-site work has already begun. As he explained, during his recent talks with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, he asked the representative of the Holy See to act in the interests of finding a solution to the situation of the Roman Catholic Lyceum in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș). Hungary hopes that a solution to the issue will be found before the beginning of the new school year in September. He also asked the Vatican diplomat to intervene to enable members of the Csango minority to attend holy mass in their native language.

“Hungary would like there to be peace in the Middle Eastern region, the prerequisite of which is the realisation of a peaceful two-state solution via negotiations, based on both Israel and the Palestine state. Accordingly, Hungary is supporting all international measures that facilitate this, but will not be supporting measures that only serve the generation of hysteria. Hungary does not believe it is right for the European Union to pass judgement and generate tensions with regard to the relocation of the United States embassy”, he said. “It is not right and it is not expedient for the European Union to voice its opinion and talk down to others with relation to every international issue”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister emphasised. Because it has been proven that with relation to creating peace in the Middle East, “statements that provide an opportunity for hysteria do not facilitate a solution, but only serve to further deepen the already deep trenches”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)