Washington and Brussels have now joined international humanitarian organizations in their recognition of Hungary’s efforts to aid refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in New York on Friday.
The war has sparked a humanitarian crisis in Europe, and it is Ukraine’s neighboring countries — mainly Poland and Hungary — that have to bear the burden of taking in refugees, Szijjártó said. Even European and American leaders recognize the remarkable efforts of volunteers, civil, charity and church groups and state institutions, he added.
“It’s no coincidence that even in Washington and Brussels, where we’re constantly criticized, they’re either not saying anything about us publicly or they have to admit that along with Poland, we bear a huge burden,” the minister said.
Szijjártó said he had discussed humanitarian issues with leaders of the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations children’s agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization, all of which he said were paying close attention to Hungary.
He said the International Red Cross has set up a regional base in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, partly because Hungary does not allow the transit of weapons across its territory and is therefore a safe location for humanitarian activities. UNICEF already has a presence in Budapest with a 370-member headquarters, Szijjártó noted, adding that the WHO has said it is “very pleased” to see that the Hungarian authorities offer not just accommodation and care for refugees but also vaccination against Covid.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó said he did not want to comment on the tone and personal remarks of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Thursday message to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, but warned that fulfilling Zelensky’s requests and demands would pose “major security risks”.
“I accept that Ukraine and the security of the Ukrainian people come first for the Ukrainian president,” Szijjártó said. “But for us it’s the security of Hungary and the Hungarian people that’s most important.”
“If we allowed the transit of weapons, if we delivered weapons and sent troops to Ukraine, we’d be dragging Hungary into the war,” Szijjártó said, pointing out that the Hungarian government did not support an embargo on Russian crude oil and natural gas, as it would mean that “there wouldn’t be any heating, any petrol and industry couldn’t function”.
“We are, of course, sticking to these decisions, regardless of what anyone says, regardless of anyone’s personal remarks and regardless of any attacks against us from the outside or within Hungary,” the minister said.
Featured photo via Szijjártó’s official Facebook page