Partnership between Hungary and Israel is “stronger than ever” and the two can always count on one another, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at a joint press conference with Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday.
Hungary, Szijjártó said, staunchly stands up for Israel and calls for a “fair and balanced attitude” towards the country in international forums. Hungary, he added, would never support biased decisions against Israel.
The minister insisted that Israel and Hungary were among the countries most under attack by international organisations and the media. He said many countries wanted the interests of the two countries to be in opposition to one another, but bilateral cooperation was at its zenith.
He said Hungary, as a central European country, was interested in peace and stability in the Middle East. Notwithstanding the efforts to achieve this, all have failed, he noted, adding that the White House plan may serve as a basis for a process that leads to peace and security. This, he said, required patience, trust and support for dialogue based on the White House plan.
Szijjártó said the coronavirus epidemic had created challenges that put Hungarian-Israeli cooperation into “a new dimension”. He said Europe was vulnerable and should build strategic capacities for protecting itself against the coronavirus which enabled it to procure vital equipment. Hungary, he added, manufactures “world-class” ventilators in cooperation with Israel which can be exported.
Israel, he said, is Hungary’s top trading and investment partner in the Middle East. The kosher food industry, the development of self-driving cars and space cooperation are important areas of cooperation, he added.
Fifty Israeli students will be allowed to study in Hungary, he said, adding that Hungary was a safe country for the Jewish community and Jewish tourists. Agreements were signed on the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme and on closer cooperation between Hungarian and Israeli space research.
Ashkenazi called Hungary “an important friend of Israel”, not only in the European Union, but also in the UN and other international organisations, adding that both countries were committed to enhancing their cooperation.
Szijjártó is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Izhar Shai, the minister of science and technology, in Jerusalem.
Featured photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI