Szijjarto in Dublin: Hungary-Ireland cooperation 'extensive' in several areas

Foreign minister condemns Ryanair forced landing in Belarus

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Tuesday condemned the forced landing of a Ryanair plane by authorities in Belarus, saying that forcing a commercial airliner to land "without any reason whatsoever" was "unacceptable, especially since the airliner in question was travelling between two European Union countries".

Speaking to MTI on the sidelines of an EU summit in Dublin, Szijjarto welcomed that “the EU finally took united, swift, determined and forceful action. We are happy to see the fast decision making on response measures which we fully support,” he said.

Belorussian authorities on Sunday intercepted a Ryanair airliner travelling from Athens to Vilnius, and forced it to land in Minsk citing a bomb threat. The airliner was accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet to the airport, where two passengers, Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner, Sofia Sapega, was arrested. Protasevich was a former editor-in-chief of Telegram channel NEXTA, which Belarus has declared extremist.

The EU decided at the summit on Monday to ban Belarusian flights from entering EU airspace and using EU airports, and called on EU airline companies to avoid Belarusian airspace. Further sanctions are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the MEPs of ruling Fidesz issued a statement on Tuesday, also condemning the forced landing of the Ryanair passenger plane.

They said in their statement to MTI that “such atrocity” was unacceptable in Europe.

“Forcing a plane to land in a move that disregards any human circumstances and laws, and threatens the safety of its passengers is unacceptable,” they said and stated their support to an immediate release of Protasevich and his girlfriend. The MEPs hailed the common position EU heads of state and government adopted on Monday on the matter.

Hungary-Ireland cooperation ‘extensive’ in several areas

Cooperation between Hungary and Ireland is “extensive” in economic ties, investments, education and peacekeeping, the foreign minister said in Dublin on Tuesday.

More than 100 value-added Irish companies employing around 10,000 people operate in Hungary, Szijjarto told MTI. Fresh Irish investments are round the corner thanks to Hungary’s advantageous tax environment, he added.

The minister highlighted the importance of cooperation in education, noting that more than 300 Irish students are admitted to Hungarian universities each year. Also, 46 language schools have joined a scheme that allows Hungarian school students to travel to Ireland to study English with government support, and 9,000 are likely to take up the opportunity, he said, adding that Hungary’s diplomatic presence in Dublin will be bolstered accordingly.

Szijjarto noted that Hungarian and Irish soldiers serve together in the UN mission in Lebanon, and both countries put a premium on peacekeeping.


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