The regional programme support office of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism will be based in Budapest, Hungary’s foreign minister announced on Thursday at an international conference.
Péter Szijjártó made the announcement at the opening of a two-day conference entitled “Prevention of radicalization to terrorism through holistic policy responses and risk mitigation”.
Szijjártó told reporters on the conference’s sidelines that the new office will be tasked with coordinating the fight against terrorism in the region. Hungary already hosts the regional headquarters of several specialised UN organisations, he said.
The minister said Hungary was “an active and successful” participant in the international community’s fight against terrorism. The UN has recognised this by co-organising the regional conference in Budapest in advance of a global anti-terrorism conference in New York next year.
Hungary not only talks about the importance of fighting terrorism but acts accordingly, Szijjártó said in his opening address. The country has 200 troops serving as part of the global coalition fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq. Hungarian units also serve in missions in Mali, the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, and will soon be deployed to Lebanon to help restore and maintain security, he said.
Szijjártó said the international community should concern itself with “inspiring” new waves of migration but should instead create safe living conditions for those who have been forced to leave their homes.
He said mass waves of illegal immigration had plainly created an opportunity for terrorist organisations to “send in and out” their fighters around the world, and stopping such migration waves was an important tool in fighting terrorism.
Over the past years, the international community has made substantial progress in fighting terrorism, Szijjarto said, adding that it would be a mistake to declare the fight over, however. Terrorist attacks are becoming “harsher and even more ruthless”, he said, adding that the fight against radicalisation “must continue”.
Last year, more than 15,000 innocent civilians lost their lives in more than 9,500 terrorist attacks around the world. Terrorist attacks are becoming more common in Europe, committed by “terrorists mainly with a migrant background”, Szijjarto said.
So far, Hungary has spent 40 million US dollars on aid to persecuted Christians in the Middle East, he noted. Hungary has also participated in rebuilding hospitals and schools so that the dispossessed can return to their homes, he added.
Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary for the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, told the conference that terrorism in all its forms remained a pressing and evolving global challenge. “[Terrorism] seeks to rip apart the social fabric that binds our shared humanity.” Terrorism risks destabilising entire regions by spreading across borders, Voronkov said, calling for joint preventative action. The rule of law and human rights must be strengthened, he said, highlighting the importance of prevention.
Szijjártó and Voronkov signed the agreement on establishing the UN regional programme support office in Budapest at the conference.
In the featured photo: Vladimir Voronkov and Péter Szijjártó. Photo by Balázs Mohai/MTI