“The Hungarian government rejects the approach that often appears on the part of the international community, according to which Christian phobia and any form of anti-Christian sentiment is acceptable”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at the second International Conference on Christian Persecution on Tuesday in Budapest.

“Amid the current international political framework, it requires courage to openly talk about the fate of Christians, and those who accepted the invitation to attend this conference have also demonstrated extreme courage”, Mr. Szijjártó pointed out. “This is despite the fact that the facts are on our side”, the Minister said, explaining that during the past year 2625 Christians have been arrested without any legal basis and over 1200 Christian churches have been attacked worldwide.

In his evaluation, the international community is incapable of suitable handing the situation, and often behaves in a hypocritical manner. “They often suggest that talking about Christian communities is a kind of discrimination and differentiation”, the Minister pointed out, declaring: “We have and will continue to reject the approach on the part of the international community, according to which Christian phobia and any form of anti-Christian sentiment is acceptable”-

Mr. Szijjártó also spoke about the fact that crimes against Christian and other communities cannot remain unpunished. “Because this would promote and encourage people to commit further crimes and attacks”, the Minister emphasised, also criticising the UN Global Compact for Migration. “The Compact suggests that countries have only three choices, and can only decide to be the source, transit of target countries of migration. The UN says nothing about countries that want neither”, the Minister said in his English language speech.

“Every country has the right to decide whether it wants to be one or neither of these”, he highlighted. “Just as everyone also has the right to live in the land of their birth and to live a secure life there in their own homeland”, the Minister emphasised. “This is the foundation on which the Hungarian government is building its policy when it supports Christian communities”, he declared, indicating that more and more countries are approaching this issue similarly to Hungary. He thanked the United States for sending a high-ranking delegation to the conference.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil spoke about the fact that the number of Christians living in the Middle East has fallen significantly, with the majority leaving their homelands and the number of Christians living in Lebanon falling by two thirds. “If Christians disappear from the land of Christ’s birth, there will be no longer be any point in protecting them”, he pointed out. The politician called for cooperation between East and West in the interests of eradicating terrorism.

The United States President’s domestic policy advisor Joe Grogan read a letter from Donald Trump in which the President welcomed the participants of the conference. According to the letter, the U.S. President highlighted the fact that the United States has always “vehemently” defended the freedom of religion in harmony with people’s faith. He praised the efforts of the Hungary Helps Program and expressed his gratitude to the Foreign Ministry for sharing the U.S. administration’s efforts in the interests of furthering religious freedom. “We all have a responsibility to protect these rights”, Donald Trump emphasised.

In a video message, United States Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Hungarian government in the interests of assisting persecuted Christians.

EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU Ján Figeľ declared that freedom of conscience, speech and religion must be maintained and preserved as civilizational achievements. He called for more dialogue between religious and secular actors, also stating that the roots of violence and intolerance must be handled in the countries involved.

Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bonnie Glick emphasised the importance of reinforcing Christian communities. She also mentioned the agreement on the harmonisation of rehabilitation projects to be concluded with the Hungarian government.

MEP György Hölvényi spoke about the fact that governments must cooperate with Churches, because without them it is impossible to take action in the Middle East.