“Protecting its external borders is a more important interest and task than ever before for Europe”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday.

Mr. Szijjártó, who is in Kuwait attending a meeting of foreign ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State, told MTI by telephone that the parties value the results achieved so far and have discussed further action.

“Thanks to the military success of the coalition against ISIS, the terrorist organisation has lost 98 percent of the territories it had previously occupied”, he pointed out, adding that: “This may be good news, but it has also brought with it further challenges”.

“The terrorist organisation has switched tactics, and on the one hand it is attempting to occupy new territories, but it is wants to send its European foreign fighters, who went there to fight on the side of the Islamic State, back home. Some five thousand people have gone there from Europe and three thousand people there who are citizens of the European Union are still there”, the Foreign Minister said, adding that: “The Islamic State wants to send them back to Europe to commit acts of terrorism here”.

“For this reason, in its current state the terrorist organisation represents another security threat to Europe, because another wave of migration ‘would to all intents and purposes fling open the gates of Europe’ before these terrorists that they want to send back home”, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted.

“For this reason, successfully protecting its external borders is now a more important interest than ever before for Europe” because it is only in this way that we can prevent the Islamic State from sending the three thousand foreign fighters that have come here back to Europe”, he explained. “If these people succeed in returning to Europe then they could commit more acts of terrorism there”, he added.

The Minister also spoke about the act that it is also important to help Christian communities to return to their homes, because of they are unable to return then the Islamic State or another terrorist organisation could reoccupy those territories and launch new attacks from there.

“Hungary has already done its part” in view of the fact that it has increased  the size of its military contingent from 150 to 200”, he stressed. The increase in military personnel is underway and the new contingent will arrive at the end of February, he told the press. “In addition to security and guard duties, the soldiers are now also involved in major training activities, and not just in the Kurdish region, but throughout Iraq”, he added.

“In addition, Hungary is providing all possible assistance to ensure that people who have been forced to flee their homes are able to return”, Mr. Szijjártó stated.

“Hungary has provided half a billion forints (EUR 1.6 million) via the Interchurch Aid charity organisation to fund the resettlement of Iraqi refugees, has provided 580 million forints (EUR 1.85 million) towards the renovation of damaged houses in an Iraqi city, and has provided a further 145 million forints (EUR 460,000) in aid to fund the pharmaceutical requirements of an Iraqi hospital”, he listed. “In addition, we are providing a total of 620 million forints (EUR 2 million) to Syria’s Christian Churches to enable them to keep Christians who have had to flee or who are disadvantaged in place or help them return home”, he added.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)