Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Foreign minister: CoE would have needed ‘courage’ to confront Russia stance

The Council of Europe would have served as a "great platform" for brokering peace, but by excluding Russia, the opportunity "for us to confront them directly with our opinions" has been lost, the foreign minister said in his address to a meeting of his Council of Europe counterparts in Strasbourg on Friday, adding that such a course of action would have required "courage".

Hungary, a country “living in the shadow of the war in Ukraine for more than two years now”, is committed to the cause of peace, Peter Szijjarto said, adding that saving lives was a top priority for the Hungarian government. “And the way to save lives … comes through a ceasefire and peace talks,” he said. “The last two years have brought evidence that there is no solution on the battlefield. What you have on the battlefield is dead people and destruction. And among the dead people there are many Hungarians.” He noted the ethnic Hungarian minority of Ukraine, many of whom had been sent to the front lines and were killed.

Szijjarto insisted that “none of the two parties can win this war, therefore we need to use … a diplomatic toolkit”, adding that Hungary was against “the over-politicisation of international organisations”.

The Council of Europe “would have served as a great platform for making attempts to make peace, but we have made a decision here and we have excluded Russia”, the minister said, adding that by doing so, the CoE had passed up the opportunity “to confront them directly with our opinions”. “And I would like to urge everyone not to continue committing this mistake,” Szijjarto said. He added that the suspension of Azerbaijan’s mandate in the parliamentary assembly had also been “a huge mistake”, and called on the body to restore the rights of the Azeri delegation.

Meanwhile, the minister noted the role of the CoE in protecting the rights of ethnic minorities and said he hoped that the EU’s new officials after the June 9 elections would also respect those rights.

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