Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto: Hungary-Israel cooperation at all-time high

Political and economic relations between Hungary and Israel are stronger than ever, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Budapest on Wednesday, adding that the two countries were also discussing opportunities for energy cooperation.

Cooperation between Hungary and Israel has always been based on mutual respect, and Hungary has always supported the Jewish state’s right to defend itself and guarantee its security, Szijjarto told a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen, according to a ministry statement.

“We condemn all the terrorist threats and attacks that Israel has had to face in the recent period, and we equally condemn the practice in international political organisations that involves the adoption of one-sided, biased statements of condemnation against Israel based on an unfair approach,” the minister said.

He said the “anti-Israel political stance” was in many cases also present in western Europe. “That is why we have had to veto several joint European statements in the recent period which were clearly biased, dishonest, unbalanced and unfair towards Israel,” Szijjarto said. He vowed that the Hungarian government would continue to push for a balanced and fair approach to Israel within the United Nations as well.

Szijjarto said the security of the Middle East was closely linked with the security of Europe, meaning that peace in the region was also in Hungary’s national security interest.

After decades of unsuccessful attempts, the Abraham Accords are the only agreements that offer hope for long-term peace, Szijjarto said, adding that the Hungarian government considered it a global security interest for even more Arab countries to normalise their relations with Israel.

“We ask the European Union and the international financial institutions to ensure financing for developments and investments that can be agreed within the framework of the Abraham Accords, as a form of encouragement for their expansion,” the minister said.

Szijjarto strongly condemned terrorism, calling it “unacceptable” that Palestinian organisations linked to terrorist groups were eligible for support from the European Union.

He said he and Cohen had agreed at their talks that Hungary will support Israel in the international lawsuit the Palestinian Authority has filed against it.

Szijjarto said he had also told his Israeli counterpart that Hungary rejects all forms of anti-Semitism. “We are proud that Hungary is home to central Europe’s largest Jewish community,” he said.

“We are concerned about the modern form of anti-Semitism having reared its head in western Europe,” Szijjarto said. “One source of this phenomenon is mass illegal migration, which poses a particular security challenge for the continent,” he added, underlining the importance of combatting unregulated immigration.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said bilateral economic cooperation was at an all-time high, with trade turnover having reached a record 750 million US dollars last year, and grown by 38 percent so far this year.

There are 250 Israeli-owned businesses employing more than 4,000 people in Hungary, he said, adding that economic cooperation also extended to areas like the security and the space industries.

The minister said they had also discussed ways for Israel to contribute to Hungary’s energy security.

Hungary’s government is putting in significant efforts in the interest of diversification, he said, adding that this was aimed to involve new resources. Israel can play a role in this, but more infrastructure developments are needed for it to deliver natural gas to central Europe, he said.

The sides also signed a declaration of intent on higher education cooperation.

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