Hungary, a “committed and loyal” NATO member, “would not want another cold war or animosity between East and West”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Szijjártó told the Hungarian press that the peoples of central Europe were aware that “calm, peace, civilised cooperation and dialogue based on mutual respect are good”.
“Promoting our own interests and values, we must seek mutually beneficial cooperation rather than enemies,” he insisted, noting the global challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic. “We now have to protect the health and lives of people, which makes the importance of international cooperation greater than ever,” he said.
Szijjártó pointed to challenges concerning illegal migration and warned that migration trends offered opportunities to terrorist organisations to send activists to Europe. Fighting terrorism and helping countries in North Africa and the Middle East develop their security capacities should be in NATO’s focus, he said. Szijjártó said efforts against the Islamic State militant group should be continued in Iraq, adding that a new coalition government in Libya could help eliminate “terrorism closely linked to migration”. Stability in the Sahel region could ensure control over illegal migration from Sub-Saharan territories, he said, and also asked his counterparts to continue supporting the Western Balkans, which he said was “the ante-chamber to Europe’s security”.
The minister noted that Hungary was stationing 420 troops in Kosovo, and was planning to send another 100 soldiers to that country. Hungary took over the commandership of the Kosovo mission in November, he added.
Szijjártó also said that Hungary would soon fulfill its commitment made in 2014 to raise its defence spending to 2 percent of GDP. He added that Hungary had already reached its goal of increasing the proportion of development within defence spending to 20 percent.
On the subject of Ukraine, Szijjártó said Hungary’s north-eastern neighbour “keeps making political and legislative decisions which make the life of ethnic Hungarians in Transcarpathia more difficult”. He said that despite Ukraine’s earlier pledges, “things are not going in the right direction”. As long as Ukraine “systematically violates ethnic minority rights, Hungary will not grant approval to a ministerial level NATO-Ukraine meeting”, he said.
“We are loyal to the alliance and we expect our allies to be loyal to us concerning an extremely important issue,” Szijjártó said.
featured image via Péter Szijjártó’s Facebook page