On Monday, the Hungarian Foreign Minister traveled to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where he met with his counterpart, Sergei Aleinik, with whom they held a joint press conference. The most important task now is to save lives, Péter Szijjártó said, adding that this requires an immediate ceasefire and the start of peace talks, without which there will be no peace in Ukraine.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó said that the number of victims of the armed conflict in the neighboring country is constantly increasing, more and more people are forced to flee, and many families are torn apart. He stressed that the Hungarians are in favor of peace, a fact he underlined several times during his talks with the Belarusian minister.
Szijjártó said that he asked his Belarusian counterpart to do everything possible to promote peace and to prevent the prolongation and escalation of the war. He added that he was aware of the international context and knew that many people would attack him for having been in Minsk today and meeting the Belarusian minister.
My fellow politicians in the West, the international liberal media will all tell you how bad it is that I was here today and had talks with my Belarusian counterpart. I would like to say one thing. The Hungarian position has always been clear: the channels of communication must be kept open,”
he said, adding that if the channels of communication are closed, the hope for peace is abandoned.
The Hungarian Minister then regretted what he called a “growing war rhetoric” and called again on the international community to focus on peace-building. According to him, Hungarians have already paid a high price for the conflict in their neighborhood: more than a million refugees have left Ukraine through Hungary, and everyone is feeling the effects of war inflation and skyrocketing energy prices due to the EU’s misguided sanctions policy.
He pointed out that both Hungary and Belarus have offered their own territory and capacities for peace talks between the parties. He added that it does not matter where these talks take place, as long as they do take place, because without communication and diplomacy there will be no end to the war.
Finally, Szijjártó said that
they had also discussed the development of cooperation in areas not affected by sanctions, such as agriculture, food and pharmaceuticals, sectors in which Hungarian exports are already significant.
In addition, the parties exchanged transport licenses, thus removing legal obstacles for Hungarian and Belarusian companies to export to each other’s countries.
He also said that although they did not discuss domestic issues, they stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of national minorities, guaranteeing religious freedom, and agreed that the Hungarian government would increase the funds for the renovation of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Stanislaus in Mogilev.
Belarus is currently sanctioned by the European Union and the United States for being involved in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. There is also concern about violence by Belarusian authorities against protesters after the 2020 presidential election, human rights violations, and the instrumentalization of migrants for political purposes and hybrid attacks at the EU’s borders.
Featured photo via Facebook/Péter Szijjártó