Four Hungarian Hostages In Gaza - Hungary Issues Warning on Middle East Situation

  • 30 Oct 2023 6:52 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Four Hungarian Hostages In Gaza - Hungary Issues Warning on Middle East Situation
The government is aware of four hostages of Hungarian nationality or origin in Gaza, including two children, and the government is doing all it can to get them to safety, while there are no reports of any Hungarian deaths, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister said.

All Hungarian citizens staying in Israel on a temporary basis have been offered the chance to leave, while everyone who requested this has been brought home, according to a ministry statement quoting the minister before he left for Yerevan.

He noted that Israel is in the process of identifying hostages, adding that the government recently received three inquiries related to persons of Hungarian origin and Hungarian citizenship among the hostages.

Two persons were identified as Hungarian citizens on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, while information about a person of Hungarian origin emerged on Thursday, he said.

Hungary is in constant contact with the Israeli task force set up to free the hostages and the authorities, as well as with the affected families, he said.

Szijjártó said the government had taken all possible steps to free them and “we sincerely hope that the Israeli authorities and organisations playing a role in their release are successful.”

Szijjártó: Israel Conflict Must Not Become Interstate War

The international community must do everything it can to prevent the conflict in the Middle East from escalating into an interstate war, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Luxembourg.

European Union member states are sharply divided on the crisis in Israel, Szijjártó said after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council.

The Hungarian government’s position on the matter, he said, was clear: killing thousands by firing thousands of missiles at a country and taking hostages was “unacceptable and inexplicable”. “So we consider it self-evident that Israel does indeed have a right to defend itself,” Szijjártó said.

“The European Union must stand by Israel as firmly as possible, since it is a victim of a terrorist attack.” “At the same time, we also think that the international community should make efforts to avoid escalation,” the minister said.

“If an escalation can’t be avoided, a broadening of the Middle East conflict could create a situation which could poison the life of the Middle East and the wider region for many years and possibly decades.” The most important goal, Szijjártó said, was to prevent the conflict from escalating into a formal interstate war.

“We hope all members of the international community will act responsibly,” he added. Szijjártó also underlined the importance of making sure that the conflict did not hurt the stability of other countries in the region, particularly those such as Egypt, helping to halt migration towards Europe.

“If it were not for Egypt acting responsibly, if it weren’t keeping illegal migration at bay, Europe would be faced by a migration wave from the south-east, which would pose an almost insurmountable security challenge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Szijjártó assured Olivér Várhelyi, the EU commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, of his support in connection with “attacks” levelled against him. “We believe it is totally normal and expected in this situation to monitor the transfer of all forms of EU funding if there’s a chance that it could end up in the hands of terrorist organisations,” he said.

The minister also expressed concern over the “alarming” images seen on the streets of certain western European cities. “The modern-day anti-Semitism that has emerged in western European countries is a cause for serious concern, as is the fact that demonstrations in support of terrorist organisations are permitted in various western European cities,” Szijjártó said.

“This is inconceivable on Hungary’s territory,” he said. “It is not permitted to organise demonstrations in support of terrorist organisations in Hungary.”

“We regret that western European countries think differently about this, and we regret that modern-day anti-Semitism has reared its head in western Europe,” Szijjártó said, adding that this was an “obvious consequence” of the absence of joint European action against migration.

The minister said that as long as illegal migration was “encouraged” from Brussels, western Europe could expect the continued formation of parallel societies as well as a rise in anti-Semitism.

Szijjártó: Escalation of Israel Conflict 'Could Take Us Extremely Close to Third World War'

The potential escalation of the conflict in Israel from an anti-terror operation to another interstate armed conflict “would take us extremely close to a third world war”, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in New York.

Arriving at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Szijjártó said several of his European and North American counterparts would be present at the session given the level of concern over the conflict in Israel.

“It has to be made clear that Israel has been a victim of a brutal terrorist attack, because the act of firing thousands of missiles on the territory of a sovereign country, killing a large number of civilians and taking hostages cannot be interpreted any other way,” he said, according to a ministry statement. And Israel has a right to take action over this brutal attack, he said, underlining that “Israel does indeed have a right to self-defence.”

Szijjártó added, at the same time, that most countries wanted to avoid that the fight against terrorism should escalate into an interstate war, which he said would be “a real global security tragedy”.

“A war in Ukraine, terrorist attacks in Africa and a potential escalation of a conflict in the Middle East to an interstate war combined would take us very, very close to something we’d call a third world war,” he said.

Szijjártó said he had spoken earlier with his Egyptian, Jordanian and Emirati counterparts, pointing out that these countries were all key to the stability of the Middle East region. He highlighted the importance of the support of the Arab countries whose “reserved, constructive and positive approach” he said had played a crucial role in the region’s security and stability.

Szijjártó said it was critical not to allow the terrorist attack against Israel to destroy the progress and the hope for peace brought about by the Abraham Accords. Meanwhile, Szijjártó praised Egypt’s help in keeping illegal migration at bay, saying that instability in the region would put Europe under “unbearable” pressure.

Another reason why Egypt was a key player, he added, was that it was the only direction to leave the Gaza Strip by land. An escalation of the fight against terrorism in Israel to an interstate war would destabilise several countries, and Europe could easily find itself under a level of security pressure that, when coupled with the security pressure from Ukraine, would be impossible to handle, the minister warned.

Meanwhile, Szijjártó said the ministry was in constant touch with the 15 Hungarian citizens trapped in Gaza. All of them are fine, and the government is working hard to find the physical, legal, and security possibilities for their evacuation, he said.

“This is only possible within the framework of a major international agreement and broad international cooperation,” Szijjártó said. “We’ll see when this will become possible,” he said, noting that Cairo had recently given the Hungarian nationals permission to enter Egypt’s territory, but they were ultimately turned back for security reasons.

Orbán: Hungary Backs Israel's Right to Self-Defence

Regarding Israel’s war against Hamas, the prime minister said Hungary supported Israel’s right to self-defence as well as actions aimed at making sure a terrorist attack similar to the one committed on Oct 7 by Hamas “never happens again”.

Speaking ahead of a two-day European Union summit, Viktor Orbán also said that humanitarian aid must get to where it is needed. Israel and Egypt, Orbán noted, are located in the Mediterranean region, and if either became unstable Europe would be on the receiving end of waves of migration.

To avoid this, Israel and Egypt must be stabilised, since the region’s stability was in Europeans’ interests, he said.

Responding to a question about Georgia, Orbán said that hopefully the EU summit would adopt a final communique in support of granting the country candidate status.

Gulyás: Government Condemns Attack on Israel

Hungary continues to condemn the attack on Israel in the strongest possible terms, the head of the Prime Minister's Office told a press conference.

Hungary’s government recognises Israel’s independence, Gergely Gulyás said. The international community must do everything in its power to avoid escalation, he said. Europe has a vested interest in the region’s countries preserving their freedom and security, he said.

Unless Egypt and other countries are helped, “hundreds of thousands or even millions can make their way to Europe”, Gulyás said.

Hungary draws a clear line between exercising the freedom of assembly and demonstrations in support of terrorism, he said. Hungary has banned all sympathy protests for terrorism, he said. Illegal migration is behind the “alarming phenomenon of thousands or tens of thousands hailing terrorists…”, Gulyás said.

Altogether 445 Hungarian citizens have been rescued from Israel and brought home so far, he said. Hungary has done a lot to evacuate Hungarians who were in danger, he said, noting however that 15 Hungarian citizens were still stranded in the Gaza Strip.

All of the Hungarians are fine, Gulyás said, adding that Hungarian diplomats stayed in constant contact with them.

Szijjártó: 'Age of Danger', 'Humanity Lurching from Crisis to Crisis'

Global security is at a post-Cold-War nadir and the world is enmeshed in danger, lurching from crisis to crisis, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, told a session of parliament on Wednesday.

A new world order is emerging following successive crises and the outcome is unknown, Szijjártó said, “but it’s almost certain Europe won’t have a stronger role than previously.”

Last year China’s GDP overtook that of the European Union, while the United States’ share of global GDP fell from 30% to 25% and EU’s dropped from 22% to 17%, the ministry quoted Szijjártó as saying. EU competitiveness is steadily decreasing, he added.

Also, Europe’s security environment is also more and more fragile, exacerbated by its “completely flawed” handling of the war in Ukraine, which, he said, globalised the conflict rather than isolating it. Growing arms deliveries prolong the war when talk should be of peace, he added.

Regarding migration, Szijjártó said Hungarian border guards now faced a new paradigm of criminal groups shooting at them from across the border with automatic weapons. “Brussels thinks we should let these people into Europe…” he said.

Meanwhile, calling Hungary a “meeting point of Eastern and Western economies”, he said it was in Hungary’s interest to forge “connections and cooperation” rather than succumb to attempts to stymie relations, “because this is the only way to effectively handle crises in the world.”

Underlining statements he made earlier, the minister said it was important to “speak clearly” about Israel’s right to self-defence.

“Israel was hit by a … brutal terrorist attack, so now it is in the interest of the entire world to successfully fight against terrorism” while making sure this fight “does not turn into a war between countries”, as this would have “utterly unpredictable consequences in the Middle East”.

He also reiterated concern about the future of the Abraham Accords, and underscored an earlier statement expressing worry about “anti-Semitism rearing its head in western Europe”.

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