“Christian communities, as too are others, are in terrible danger in the Middle East because of the activities of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organisation, which wants to eradicate them”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said at a conference entitled Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East in Madrid on Wednesday.

In his speech, the Minister stressed that it is the duty of the international community to help Christian families who have fled the conflict to return home.

DownloadPhoto: Árpád Szabó/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

As he explained, this is a critical and fundamental issue, the realisation of which requires the existence of two conditions: firstly, the guaranteeing of peace and security by the United Nations in administrative zones, and secondly the rebuilding of destroyed areas, which requires real and determined programmes, and every country, Christian or not, must take participate in providing this assistance.

“There is no time to waste”, the Minister stressed.

In his speech, Mr. Szijjártó emphasised: “In addition to enabling people who have been forced to flee to return to their homes, another important task of the international community is to assure that the International Criminal Court (ICC) examines and punished the crimes committed against religious communities”. He recalled that the Hungarian Government had called on the UN Security Council to urgently address the matter.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister said one of the most important tasks of the international community was the fight against ISIS, which is one of the “most brutal” terrorist organisations in history.

He pointed out that Hungary currently has a 150-strong military contingent fighting against the Jihadists, but Hungary’s Parliament is planning to increase the number of Hungarian soldiers in the Middle East to 200 by 2019. The Iraqi government asked the member states of the United Nations for assistance in the fight against the Islamic State in June of 2014. Hungary joined the multinational mission in 2015 at the request of the United States and following the authorisation of the National Assembly. The bill adopted by Parliament in 2015 concerned the stationing of a contingent of a maximum of 150 Hungarian soldiers (300 during shift changes) in Iraq, with a mandate valid until 31 December 2017. According to the bill put before Parliament this April, the Hungarian Defence Force would have a contingent of 200 (400) military personnel stationed in Iraq, performing partner capability building, military assistance and advice, guarding and troop accompaniment duties.

DownloadPhoto: Árpád Szabó/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mr. Szijjártó also briefed those present on the Hungarian Government’s decisions aimed at supporting Middle-Eastern Christians: Hungary is providing 1.9 million euros to help the reconstruction of the homes of 200 Iraqi Christians, is providing 470 thousand euros in funding to enable the purchasing of medicines by hospitals that are treating the Christian community, is donating 400 thousand euros for the construction of a Christian school, and is spending 500 thousand euros on humanitarian aid within the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. In addition, Hungary is providing funding of one million euros each to the Syrian Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Furthermore, Hungary is also providing 100 scholarship places to enable the children of persecuted Christians to study at Hungarian institutions of higher education.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister also reported on the fact that the Hungarian Government had established a separate state secretariat to monitor the situation of Christian communities in the region.

“We always speak out when we become aware of any kind of persecution of Christian communities in the region”, Mr. Szijjártó declared.