FM: International community should prevent Middle East conflict from escalating into interstate war

The foreign minister said European Union member states are sharply divided on the crisis in Israel.

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

Speaking in Luxembourg after a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the foreign minister said European Union member states are sharply divided on the crisis in Israel. 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,” Minister 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, Minister 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.