“We must assure that Christian communities in Syria and other parts of the world, who have lived there for a thousand years, but have been driven out because of their religion, can return home”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in New York on Thursday evening at a debate held within the framework of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Hungary, in collaboration with other UN member states, has organised its own event on the topic on Friday, entitled Freedom from Persecution: Christian Communities and Religious Pluralism in Danger. The United States, the Vatican, the Philippines, Lebanon and Iraq are also involved in organising the event. Mr. Szijjártó’s Thursday programme also included a bilateral meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. The Foreign Minister explained that as a Christian country, Hungary feels it has a responsibility for the fate of Christian communities, and is sad to see that these communities are being threatened with total elimination in many places around the world.

“We must prevent this”, he underlined, pointing out that Christians are the most persecuted religious community on Earth. The event on Thursday was mainly concerned with the possible need to hold people responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity with relation to events during the Syrian armed conflict within the framework of the so-called International, Independent and Impartial Mechanism (IIIM). With relation to this, Mr. Szijjártó stated that Middle Eastern stability is clearly in the interests of Europe, and a prerequisite for restoring stability is the punishment of those responsible for the crimes committed there. “It is only in this way that we can guarantee that the same crimes are not committed again”, he added. As he explained, since 1990 Hungary has been strongly supporting international efforts aimed at punishing those who grossly violate international law and humanitarian regulations. This was also Hungary’s policy during the Yugoslav wars.

Hungary is currently also a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and has an accentuated responsibility for assuring that the perpetrators of crimes receive due punishment. The Minister also spoke about the fact that the situation in the Middle East has a major effect on Central Europe, in addition to which our region had to struggle with many difficulties and challenges to achieve its freedom, and to achieve its democratic system and the guaranteeing of civil liberties. “We also had to fight off external intervention attempts several times, and the region proved to be the playground of superpowers on several occasions. The Middle East is now going through a similar ordeal in many respects”, Mr. Szijjártó stated.