Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto – Photo: Facebook

Szijjarto calls on EU to take firmer action against terrorism

Peter Szijjarto, Hungary's foreign minister, has called on the European Union to declare the Houthis a terrorist organisation and to help the Yemeni government strengthen its coast guard.
3. February 2024 5:45

The funds necessary for this are available in the European Peace Facility, Szijjarto on Facebook on Friday.

Unless the European Union and Western countries take firm action, Szijjarto said, “European economies and businesses will have to reckon with this factor of uncertainty for a sustained period.”

“The Western world sat on the fence for a long time and unfortunately did not recognise the seriousness of the threat posed by the Houthis. Thus in recent weeks traffic accounting for 15 percent of world trade was endangered off the coast of Yemen due to the attacks of the Houthis,” Szijjarto said.

Szijjarto noted that the Houthi rebels were constantly attacking cargo ships and the duration and the costs of maritime freight trade from Asia to Europe have increased significantly, as these ships now have to bypass the entire African continent.

He said this was an increasingly serious problem for several Hungarian businesses, too, since deliveries are not arriving on time, and shipment costs are also increasing.

“The world cannot let this organisation of rebels endanger the freedom of world trade to such an extent. The European Union must also take steps, since it would not be good if the economies of the European Union were to experience even more difficulties in addition to the challenges they are already facing,” the minister said.

The foreign ministry said later that Szijjarto on Friday held talks with nine of his Asian counterparts, including Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi, Yemen’s Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, Madagascar’s Rafaravavitafika Rasata, Philippines’s Enrique Manalo, Thailand’s Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Cambodia’s Sok Chenda Sophea, Brunei’s Erywan Yusof, Bangladesh’s Muhammad Hasan Mahmud and Laos’s Saleumxay Kommasith.

Szijjarto posted several updates about his talks on Facebook throughout the day. Concerning Indonesia, he said bilateral trade with the Southeast Asian country reached a record 280 million dollars last year.

Since Indonesia is becoming an increasingly important player in the global economy, this record trade turnover has a clear positive impact on Hungary’s foreign trade as well, he said. He also welcomed that more than 1,500 Indonesian university students have applied for Hungarian scholarships this year.

Szijjarto said Indonesia had submitted its application for OECD membership, which Hungary supported because it was a boost to the organisation. He said the OECD was “one of the increasingly few international organisations” where fairness, impartiality and being free of ideologies “are still considered values”.

In his post about Madagascar, Szijjarto said this had been the first-ever meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

“At the same time, we share more common issues than we would think…” he added. He noted that Madagascar had been the guest of honour at Hungary’s Travel Exhibition last year, and that Hungary was contributing 40 million forints (EUR 104,300) to an afforestation scheme on the island.

Meanwhile, Szijjarto said that the centre of gravity in the global economy had shifted from West to East, adding that the EU’s interest lay in “building the closest possible economic cooperation between East and West”.

That was why, he said, Hungary would focus on developing as close ties as possible with Southeast Asia during its EU presidency in the second half of this year.

He vowed to speed up talks on a free trade agreement with Thailand, restart those talks with the Philippines, re-enter into talks on a partnership and cooperation agreement with Brunei, start talks on such a deal with Bangladesh, support Cambodia applying the most-favoured nation treatment in its trade with the EU and sign an investment protection agreement with Laos.

According to the ministry, Hungary has invested 125 million dollars into developing Laos’ water industry and electronic administration. In Cambodia, more than 300 students have applied for Hungarian scholarships, while last year’s trade turnover with Bangladesh came to a record 100 million euros. Meanwhile, Hungary has agreed to boost its food exports to Thailand and the Philippines, the ministry said.

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