Helping Christians in Syria is Europe’s duty, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Human Capacities stated on Tuesday in Budapest in his welcome speech delivered as part of the conference series of the Pázmány Péter Catholic University on persecuted Christians.

Bence Rétvári pointed out before the address of Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo: Christians in Syria are being persecuted because of their faith and European norms and values. A hundred years ago 20 to 30 per cent of Aleppo’s population was Christian; only 10 per cent is today.

In the past few years some half a million Christians have been forced to leave their native land in order to flee the terrorist organisation Islamic State. Meanwhile immigration is causing political and social problems in Europe, it is slowing down economic growth, lowering living standards, and is a source of shock for societies, he pointed out.

The Hungarian Government believes that help should not be given through big international organisations that are lacking in transparency, but through local churches and communities. This can work, not the quotas, the Christian democratic (KDNP) politician stressed.

Mr Rétvári said that rather than integrating us, we should integrate others. The goal is not to give up the European form of life, but to preserve it, he added.

Regarding the Archbishop of Aleppo, the State Secretary said: he did not leave members of his congregation behind even at the time of the siege of the city, facing risk to his own life, he distributed water and food among the needy.

Jean-Clément Jeanbart said in his speech that the once thriving 7,000-year-old city has been a disaster zone for more than half a decade, innocent people are suffering from senseless violence, and the country has been torn into parts. For Christian people the top priority is to restore peace, and to allow Christianity to survive in the very place where it came into being thousands of years ago.

The Archbishop of Aleppo believes that Syria is a victim of a carefully planned campaign. What happened was not the doing of the local population, but a destructive campaign. With Turkey’s intervention the situation has become much more dangerous, and the West has sold the Middle East to theocratic states for financial gain.

Jean-Clément Jeanbart warned that while people in Europe can live according to their own convictions, in places where supporters of fundamentalist Islam are in the majority they will always come first.

The Archbishop added: he heard from fundamentalist Muslims that their strategy is to outgrow other groups and to become a majority by maintaining a higher birth rate.

“I am afraid many are unaware that Islamic fundamentalists do not believe in democracy. Their faith dictates that they should favour one another, regardless of who is right or wrong. To combat this, we need a kind of positive secularism so that both Christians and Muslims can feel at home. Coexistence means: live and let live, the Archbishop said.

Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo Jean-Clément Jeanbart asked Europe to help Syrian Christians remain in their own country.