Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said an immediate ceasefire and peace talks are needed in Ukraine, as the number of victims and destruction will only grow as the war continues.
At a security conference in Minsk, Minister Szijjártó said Europe and Hungary had already paid a high price for a war they were not responsible for. Hungarians want peace as soon as possible and do not agree with those saying that the conditions for peace would improve over time, he said, adding that the solution to the war was at the negotiating table, not on the battlefield. Channels of communication must be kept open, “lest we give up hope for peace,” he added. Minister Szijjártó said his faith in peace had prompted him to accept the invitation to the conference, “risking, of course, condemnation from certain parts of Europe.” In his speech following addresses by Sergei Aleinik and Sergei Lavrov, his Belarusian and Russian counterparts, respectively, Minister Szijjártó said that in order to find solutions to Europe’s challenges and to avoid the deterioration of its situation, the war in Ukraine must be ended through a ceasefire and peace talks. Further, “civilized dialogue” must be restored between East and West, and political discourse must return to dialogue based on mutual respect and common sense rather than “debates based on ideology and politics”, he said. The model of European economic growth, based on a combination of cutting-edge western technology and relatively cheap eastern energy, had collapsed, he said. Consequently, natural gas costs four times as much in Europe as in the US and electricity three times as much as in China. Europe had also made pragmatic issues such as energy supplies a hostage of political and ideological discussions, he said. While some called for decoupling the European and Chinese economies, Hungary achieved success by becoming a meeting point of interdependent economic players, he said. The wars in Ukraine and Israel, he said, had plunged global security into its worst state since the end of the Cold War, Szijjártó added. Meanwhile, the EU was also struggling with a dramatic fall in competitiveness, he said, as China had grown to have the second-largest annual GDP worldwide. As Europe’s share of the world GDP has fallen to 17% today from 22% in 2010, China’s grew from 9% to 18%, he said. Hungary has a vested interest in a safe and strong Europe. “For that, we need peace and connectivity,” Minister Szijjártó said.